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Stars Trade Back, Select Wyatt Johnston 23rd Overall; Acquire Two Additional Picks

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The Stars took a center with their first round pick after many speculated they would go after a high-end goaltender.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The Dallas Stars made the first trade to move back in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft tonight, sending the 15th overall pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for the 23rd overall pick, a second rounder, and a fifth rounder.

Generally, people felt that the return for moving down worked well in Dallas’ favor.

Detroit took goaltending prospect Sebastian Cossa with the pick, who was the WHL Central Division goaltender of the year. The other top goaltending prospect in the draft was selected a few spots ahead of Dallas’ new draft position at 23 when the Minnesota Wild traded picks 22 and 90 to the Edmonton Oilers to draft Jesper Wallstedt at 20th overall.

With the 23rd overall pick, the Stars selected Wyatt Johnston to add to their stable of prospects. Johnston didn’t play this season as the OHL didn’t put on competitions this season. (Johnston played for the Windsor Spitfires.) The only game action he got was going to play for Team Canada’s U-18 team at the tournament hosted in Frisco.

Scouting reports on Johnston indicate that he’s a player that has been willing to take on any role asked of him — and then shine with it, not unlike the U-18 showing indicated. Much like many Jim Nill draft selections, Johnston has high hockey IQ, one of the first characteristics Nill looks for in prospects. Though he’s not overly large, he plays a big game and doesn’t shy away from getting to the hard areas on the ice. Our own Derek Neumeier described the center as having “size, mobility, puck skill, and a sneaky good shot” and being “really solid defensively.”

The Athletic’s Corey Pronman projects Johnston’s ceiling as a second line center. You can learn more about Johnston’s game here.

Johnston said he had a few conversations before the draft and that Dallas was “pretty high on me”, as he put it. He previously played with Curtis Douglas, a Dallas Stars draft pick from 2018. Johnston told the Dallas media that he needs to improve on his strength and his skating to compete against the mature players at the NHL level.

Tomorrow, the Stars will have nine picks unless another move is made to trade some picks away in advance of rounds two through seven. In round two, they’ll have picks 47 and 48, followed by picks 73 and 79 in the third round, pick 111 in round four, picks 138 and 143 in round five, pick 175 in round six, and pick 207 in round seven.