The future is always alluring to people, as if we forget about the past or present troubles and place our bets on the future being the time when we really realize our dreams and expectations. In the world of professional sports that adage is what keeps franchises eternally optimistic, that one young talent can swoop in and change the fortunes for the team and the fanbase. On June 22nd and 23rd, the epicenter of optimism for the 31 NHL franchises will be under the lights of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, and when the host team picks at 13, fans of the Dallas Stars can be optimistic in the pick’s fortunes.
Over the past weeks and in the weeks leading up to the coronation of the efforts and dreams of hockey’s next generation, fans of the Dallas Stars will be bombarded with prospect reports, theoretical mock drafts, and maybe even a trade proposal or two. However, where some see the 13th pick as a non-top ten pick (especially after picking 3rd a year ago) fans should be aware that the Stars are picking in a spot where productive, championship players routinely come off the board.
After hours of research, debate with fellow hockey minds, and overall productivity, I have compiled the top goaltender, defenseman, and forward that were chosen at pick 13 in the past 25-plus years.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere: 1995 (Hartford Whalers)
In hockey they say you build from the net on out, and that is exactly what we are doing in this instance. In 1995 the Hartford Whalers selected from the Halifax Mooseheads, the 6ft Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who would go on to play his first 8 NHL games with the Whalers, before being traded to Calgary in 1997. However, the early years of JSG are not why he made this all-star team, but rather his incredible run of play in the post-season from 2002-2008 for the Anaheim Ducks.
Starting in the 2002-03 season, the big net-minder from Montreal, Quebec, would begin a run that would see the Ducks reach new heights in the history of their young franchise. The spark came in the 2003 playoffs, in which Giguere would defeat the top seeds in the Western Conference, dragging the Ducks into the finals against the New Jersey Devils. That spring Giguere would post a 1.62 GAA, go save-for-save with Martin Brodeur, and even in a seven game defeat in the Final, come out with the Conn Smyth Trophy for playoff MVP.
The run would continue for Giggy, as the Ducks would revamp their roster and return to the Final in 2007, contributing the crowning achievement in Giguere’s career. In a season where he would post a 35 win season, and 2.12 (regular season) and 1.97 (playoffs) goals against averages, Giguere and the Ducks would capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in a five-game victory over the Ottawa Senators.
With 597 games played in his career, posting 262 wins, 216 losses, 25 overtime/shootout wins, and 50 overtime/shootout losses, a 2.53 goals against average, and 38 shutouts, Giguere simply carried teams to the playoffs and Finals when he was healthy. Health would be the biggest factor on the backend of his career, forcing him to assume the role of backup for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche. However, due to his success in the regular season and playoffs, when it was said and done for Giguere, the veteran goaltender had established himself as the greatest goaltender in Ducks history, and the best goaltender chosen at pick 13 in recent memory.
Derek Morris: 1996 (Calgary Flames)
Derek Morris would be drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1996 as a big, promising defensemen from the Regina Pats of the WHL. Morris would make his NHL debut a year later during the 1997-98 campaign for the Flames, establishing himself as an every night presence on the blue-line. In 82 games as a rookie, Morris would record 9 goals and 20 assists, for 29 points. Overall, Morris would spend five seasons with the Flames before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 2002, where he would record a career high 48 points.
Morris would ultimately find himself in Phoenix, after being traded by the Avalanche mid-season in 2003-04. As a member of the then-Phoenix Coyotes for ten of his remaining twelve years, Morris would remain a steady defender in the NHL and for a young, struggling Phoenix franchise. With the exception of stints in New York and Boston, Morris would play 544 games for the Coyotes, and help the franchise to a berth in the 2012 Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.
Morris’ style of play was large all around, a big defender who could throw a hit in the corner, and lean on forwards in his own end. He also proved to be extremely durable during a career that spanned 16 years, playing over 70 games ten times, and playing in all 82 games four times. His steady style of defense and chip in ability on offense made him a valuable asset to each team that he played on, and saw him post an impressive final stat line of 92 goals, 332 assists, and 424 points in 1,107 games played, ranking him in the top 100 of NHL defensive scoring.
Dustin Brown: 2003 (Los Angeles Kings)
Chosen in 2003 by the Los Angeles Kings, out of the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Dustin Brown has established himself as a proven winner over his fourteen year career with the Kings. Brown would make his NHL appearance during the 2003-04 season, scoring a goal and four assists in 31 games that season. More importantly, Brown would establish himself as a proven young player, whose physical style and compete level would make him an instant regular in the Kings lineup. After increasing his goal totals in 2006 and 2007, Brown would break out over the next five seasons recording over 20 goals in each campaign.
However, the best successes of Browns career were yet to come.
Brown would be named captain of the Kings in 2008, beginning his tenure as the winningest captain in Los Angeles Kings history. Brown would lead the Kings to playoffs in 2010 and 2011, before leading the franchise in 2012 to their first Stanley Cup championship in their long and storied history. In winning that championship, Brown would become only the second American to captain a team to a Stanley Cup, following Derian Hatcher’s 1999 Dallas Stars. Brown would again lead the Kings through the defending champion Blackhawks in 2014, back to the finals where the Kings would capture their second Cup in three seasons.
Brown has also been a pillar of American hockey on the international stage since his arrival in the NHL in 2003. Brown has appeared in four world championships for Team USA, capturing the Bronze medal in 2004. His key international accomplishment would come in 2010 when Brown would help the American Olympic team reach the silver medal in Vancouver. He would again be tapped for the 2014 team, where he would improve on the offensive side of the puck with two goals in six games.
Brown has established himself as one of the winningest players in the modern NHL. He time and again uses his physicality to find an edge and rattle his opponents throughout a game. His leadership qualities have led the Kings to multiple playoff appearances, and two Stanley Cup championships. He has also been able to chip in on a consistent basis on the offensive side of the puck with a stat line of 260 goals and 307 assists, or 567 points in 1,045 career games played to date.
While the players discussed previously have been selected as the best players to arrive in the NHL via the 13th overall pick, there are quite a few players who have made impacts on their teams in the past and present. These players, picked at 13th in the draft, have suited up for the Dallas Stars throughout the years with varying impacts — and impacts yet to be felt.
Ales Hemsky: He is a player who has carved out a good career after going just outside the top ten in 2001 to the Edmonton Oilers. He played a key role in the Oilers reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 and helped the Stars to a first place finish in the Western Conference in 2016. Injuries have certainly slowed his career, but his skill and intelligence on the ice are still a threat when healthy.
Philippe Boucher: Drafted in 1991 by the Sabres, Boucher had a nice career as a bottom six defenseman in Los Angeles for eight years, before finding his niche in Dallas starting in 2002. In his seasons with the Stars, Boucher would find a role in the Star’s powerful top four, and be a lightning rod on the power-play. In 2005-06 Boucher would breakout with 16 goals, half of which came on the power-play, while playing big minutes with Sergei Zubov. In 2006-07, he would shatter the mark from a season before with 19 goals and 51 points, while earning Norris consideration and an All-Star game appearance. Boucher would end his career in 2009 after winning his first Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Radek Faksa: Selected in 2012, Faksa’s journey to the NHL is as inspiring as it is unlikely. Moving away from home at a young age to chase the NHL dream, the Stars would take the young Czech from the Kitchener Rangers. Faksa would join the Stars in the 2015-16 season, appearing in 45 games and recording 12 points. He would also gain experience in the playoffs appearing in all 13 games for the Stars, scoring three goals and five points overall. Faksa has been a mainstay in the Dallas lineup ever since, becoming the club’s third line shutdown center in all situations on the ice. Faksa has also found his offensive touch with each passing season, improving his goal total from 12 in his first full season in 2016-17, to 17 in 2017-18. Faksa has the chance to be the Stars’ best player selected at 13 in franchise history, and he is a key part of the Stars lineup moving forward.
When the Stars take the stage at 13 in a month, the eyes of Dallas Stars fans will be forever cast upon the young man they select. It will be a day where pundits will begin to predict the timeline of the young player making his NHL arrival and when he does arrive, the type of player he will become. While the pick at 13 will not be a top three or even a top ten pick, the Stars can still get a player that can be a productive and important piece for the club going forward.