In the SB Nation mock draft universe, Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill approaches the podium, knees weak and palms are sweating. There’s a name on the sweater already. He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready. He keeps on forgetting what he wrote down. The Montreal crowd goes so loud. He opens his mouth, and the words come out:
With the 18th pick in the NHL draft, the Dallas Stars select defenseman Lian Bichsel from the SHL.
What, you think they’d botch two names at the draft in the last five years?
In assessing the Dallas Stars’ depth, we here at Defending Big D determined that they were most likely to target a defenseman. Bichsel represents a player of good size that has been a two-way defenseman whose usage leans towards the defensive defenseman style playing in the competitive SHL as a teenager.
How you value his skill set and factor in his size has likely led to the wildly variant ranking across different publications leading up to the draft:
NHL Central Scouting: #9 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #15
Elite Prospects: #26
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #35
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #51
Let’s see what some of these scouting publications had to say about Bichsel:
“Bichsel defends the rush, the cycle and the net well, and that will always be his calling card. Some sloppiness can develop in his game when play caves in on him and pace ramps up though, and I worry about just how big he already is (225 pounds) and some of the challenges he might face if he ends up playing closer to 240 pounds (which isn’t at all out of the question).” - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“When you watch him on the ice he’s easy to dream on and imagine a world where he becomes the next Darnell Nurse or the like. He didn’t have a big statistical season though, and exactly how much offense/how pure a puck-mover he is versus men is the debate on him...” - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
“Swiss defender Lian Bichsel stands at a towering 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds and he knows how to use it with his physicality, and his long reach to disrupt plays. The two-way defender surprises with the amount of skill he possesses, from his long, powerful strides to his overall offensive awareness, he shows top-four potential.” - Josh Bell, Sporting News
The strengths of this pick for Dallas is that they get a two-way player that isn’t a liability in his own end. The fact that he often starts in his own end and has a way of ending games with a better Corsi For percentage than you would anticipate shows that he’s a key driver of offense. (In the Champions Hockey League tournament, he ended with a 56.9 CF% with heavy defensive zone starts, albeit in a limited third-pairing role.) Dallas desperately could use some of that in the system.
Of course, the size thing might actually be a bit of a question mark. There aren’t too many examples of large human beings that can get up and down the ice well if he were to top out at 240 pounds and grow another inch or two more (which could happen). Dallas was able to have success with a guy like Jamie Oleksiak before, so maybe they don’t find it as much of a question mark.
What do you think Dallas will look to draft for when they pick 17th in the draft on July 7th?
Check out the rest picks so far in the SB Nation mock draft:
1 - Montreal Canadiens - Shane Wright
2 - New Jersey Devils - Logan Cooley
3 - Arizona Coyotes - Juraj Slafkovsky
4 - Seattle Kraken - Simon Nimec
5 - Philadelphia Flyers - David Jiricek
6 - Columbus Blue Jackets - Cutter Gauthier
7 - Ottawa Senators - Joakim Kewell
8 - Detroit Red Wings - Matthew Savoie
9 - Buffalo Sabres - Connor Geekie
10 - Anaheim Ducks - Kevin Korchinski
11 - San Jose Sharks - Jonathan Lekkerimaki
12 - Columbus Blue Jackets - Frank Nazar
13 - New York Islanders - Marco Kasper
14 - Winnipeg Jets - Filip Mesar
15 - Vancouver Canucks - Liam Ohgren
16 - Buffalo Sabres - Brad Lambert
17 - Nashville Predators - Pavel Mintyukov