As exciting as the first round of the annual NHL entry draft is, most of the work during draft weekend is actually done on the second day, where the picks from Rounds 2-7 are made in one long, non-stop stretch of selections.
Over the past few weeks, David Castillo and I have been getting Defending Big D readers acquainted with some of this year’s draft-eligible prospects who could be targets for the Dallas Stars in the first and second rounds.
Today I’m going to wrap up the site’s pre-draft coverage with a look at some prospects who could be good options for the Stars in the later rounds.
Dallas currently has just four total picks in this year’s draft, with one in the first round and then one more each in Rounds 4, 5 and 6. With so few picks to work with, the Stars, moreso than recent years, will really need to hit on a couple of these to keep their prospect pipeline flowing.
Why were these particular players chosen for this spotlight? As I outlined a few weeks ago in my Dallas Stars draft preview, the organization would be well off to specifically target the following areas:
- Any clear-cut best players available
- Finesse, point-producing forwards
- Right-shot defensemen
- Swing for the fences with mid or late picks
- At least one goaltender
For a better idea of which prospects the Stars already have in their system, feel free to check out the most recent edition of Defending Big D’s Prospect Rankings, from back in February.
Important note: These views are entirely my own. They have been developed through personal scouting, research, and analysis of the team’s prospect pool. I have no firsthand or insider knowledge about which players the Stars are actually targeting in this range.
While there’s no guarantee that any of these players will still be available when the Stars make their selections in the respective rounds, they have ultimately been chosen based on an accumulation of various rankings, recent league-wide draft trends and other factors that suggest a high likelihood they will still be around. It should also be mentioned that high-ranked players who unexpectedly slide down the draft board should be heavily considered in these spots as well, but we won’t know who they are (if anyone) until the picks start going through.
Let’s dig in.
Round 4 — 111th overall
Mikhail Abramov — Center — Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
It’s not easy to go from playing hockey in Russia to doing so in the QMJHL, but Abramov had a productive rookie season in Victoriaville. He’s a cerebral forward who usually thinks pass-first, which is a bit of a shame because his wrist shot is quite a weapon in its own right. Plays a little too loose and lackadaisical at times, so he’ll need to tighten his game up a lot for the pros.
Martin “Hugo” Has — Defense — Tappara U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
A hulking Czech defender who is plying his trade in Finland, Has has been an international mainstay on the blue line for his home country for the past few seasons, something that will likely continue going forward. His calling cards are his size and his strength, although his mobility isn’t half bad and has the potential to improve. Puck control and distribution are weaknesses.
Patrick Moynihan — Center/Wing — USNTDP (USHL)
Buried on a deep USNTDP roster, Moynihan didn’t get the best opportunities to showcase his scoring abilities, so instead he worked on rounding out his game, making huge progress in the process. Still, he showed impressive flashes at times, and one can’t help but wonder what kind of offensive tricks he learned while being around so many highly talented teammates.
Here is the final goal for the U18s in the 2nd period, a shortie.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) March 27, 2019
Patrick Moynihan made a nice play along the half wall and at the point to clear the zone before firing a shot on net. Sean Farrell was credited with the goal as he crashed the net, but Moynihan led the line. pic.twitter.com/cHKTv8xDZK
Blake Murray — Center/Wing — Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
At this time last year Murray was considered a potential first-round pick in 2019, but his stock has fallen significantly since then. However, with a 6-foot-3 frame, light feet and a deadly wrist shot, he has enough interesting tools that he shouldn’t be allowed to slide too far. Scored 30 goals this past season and has the potential to do that in the NHL if he can just play with more urgency.
Ethan Phillips — Left Wing — Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
The Team West MVP at this year’s USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Phillips is a diminutive winger with excellent hockey sense and some nifty puck skills. Helped his Sioux Falls team win a USHL championship this season. He’s also an interesting story, as a Nova Scotian who chose to play prep school in the United States despite having some interesting roommates back home.
Keean Washkurak — Center — Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
A feisty, fearless forward with a non-stop motor, Washkurak is the type of player who is impossible not to like. Really excels as a penalty killer. His ability to contribute on the score sheet isn’t there quite yet, but Mississauga is a rebuilding team and Washkurak is one of their core pieces, so he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to develop his game in all areas the next two years.
Round 5 — 142nd Overall
Carter Berger — Defense — Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
How did Berger nearly double his point production compared to last season? Playing on a high-flying team with top prospect Alex Newhook probably helped. He’ll get a similar opportunity at the University of Connecticut on a young roster that should be exciting and hard to slow down. A confident, mobile, puck-moving defender, Berger won’t fall through the draft a third time.
Eric Ciccolini — Right Wing — Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL)
One of the OJHL’s top offensive players this past season, Ciccolini was a terror for opposing teams despite not having a lot of help around him, finishing with 19 points more than his next-closest teammate. With an impressive ability to control the puck he isn’t afraid to try to do things all by himself. Would have been nice to see him make more of an impact at high-profile events.
Maxwell Crozier — Defense — Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
The Calgary native joined the Stampede, earned an “A” being put on his sweater and led his team in playoff scoring en route to a league title — all in just his first season with the club. Crozier is a jack-of-all-trades blueliner who looks like a safe pick because of how well-rounded he is, but his development could take big strides at Providence College over the next few years.
Taylor Gauthier — Goaltender — Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Gauthier had an inconsistent 2018-19 season, which is kind of suiting given his erratic style of play. However, it’s easier to refine a wayward goaltender than develop the elite quickness and athleticism that Gauthier possesses in a less naturally gifted netminder. If facing lots of rubber is good for young goalies then his time in Prince George could really pay off in the long haul.
Trevor Janicke — Center/Wing — Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL)
A former member of the USNTDP, Janicke went from being a bottom-six player to “the guy” with the Flying Aces and really ran with the opportunity. The team’s captain, he led his squad in scoring and was trusted to play in all situations. He currently projects as a good bet to play in an NHL team’s bottom-six, but he has some tools that could help translate to more scoring success.
Ryan Siedem — Defense — Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL)
Another prospect who spent time with the USNTDP before joining the Flying Aces, Siedem played a big role on the club. His size, mobility and passing are all good, though none are particularly great. He does, however, have advanced composure and awareness in his own zone. Harvard has a good track record lately developing defenders, so Siedem should be in good hands.
Round 6 — 173rd Overall
Nick Abruzzese — Center — Chicago Steel (USHL)
The USHL’s leading scorer for 2018-19, Abruzzese was passed over in his first two years of draft eligibility but took a huge leap this year after his team made some franchise-changing adjustments to how they develop players. An undersized center with quickness, playmaking and creativity, you hope that he’s a late-bloomer who still has a lot of room to grow his game.
Ethan Browne — Center — Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Browne had a tough go of things this season, playing on a basement-dwelling club and suffering a season-ending concussion, but he’s an intriguing pivot who has flown under the radar a lot. He has a great touch on the puck, a good motor and impressive defensive understanding for his age. Already the No. 1 center for the Cougars, he’s going to get plenty of ice time going forward.
It was @TheWHL Highlight of the Night, but take another look at @ethanbrowne01 setting up @joshmaser88. | #NorthernUprising #WHL pic.twitter.com/ZZUpRPRTer— PG Cougars (@PGCougars) January 21, 2019
Aku Raty — Right Wing — Karpat U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Raty plays a smart, simple offensive game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering he’s pretty reliable and effective at it. He’s not flashy and none of his skills truly stand out, but he’s well-rounded and puts in an honest effort. Has had success internationally for Finland. His younger brother, Aatu, is already an elite prospect, so the two should be able to help each other develop.
Roddy Ross — Goaltender — Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Ross joined Seattle in early January, quickly won their starting goaltender job and never looked back by leading his team to an improbable playoff berth. He’s a smart, tranquil goalie who lets his size do most of the work. He’s an incredibly raw player who hasn’t had much high-end development help thus far, so just how much could his game grow if exposed to NHL resources?
Goaltender @roddy_ross of the @SeattleTbirds has been named the WHL Rookie of the Month for January!— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 31, 2019
DETAILS | https://t.co/WhGXlo7yMz pic.twitter.com/nw8bt5uj3y
Dmitri Sheshin — Left Wing — Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
A buzzsaw of a forward, Sheshin is a treat to watch because of how fast, how hard and how confidently he plays. Put up big numbers in Russia’s top junior league in a top-six role, and then looked fantastic in a bottom-six and penalty killing role at the U18s. His stature is a problem and you’d like to see his skating be a little cleaner, but this is a guy who makes a different on the ice.
Kirill Slepets — Right Wing — Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
A prospect who I actually wrote about in this same space two years ago, Slepets is something of an enigma, bouncing around different teams and leagues over in Russia. He did, however, put his name back on the scouting map after a stellar showing at the World Juniors, which included scoring a hat trick that helped his team win bronze. A speedy winger who is deadly on the penalty kill.