So the much heralded 2013 NHL Draft has come and gone and the Stars stayed still and used their picks to select nine new prospects to join the organisation. But who are they?
|1||10||Valeri Nichushkin||RW||Dynamo Moscow (KHL)||6"3||196||Russian|
|1||29||Jason Dickinson||LW/C||Guelph Storm (OHL)||6"1||179||Canadian|
|2||40||Remi Elie||LW||London Knights (OHL)||6"0||203||Canadian|
|2||54||Philippe Desrosiers||G||Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)||6"1||182||Canadian|
|3||68||Niklas Hansson||D||Rogle J20 (SuperElit)||6"0||163||Swedish|
|4||101||Nicholas Paul||LW||Brampton Battalion (OHL)||6"2||202||Canadian|
|5||131||Cole Ully||LW||Kamloop Blazers (WHL)||5"11||164||Canadian|
|5||149||Matej Paulovic||LW||Farjestad J20 (SuperElit)||6"3||187||Slovakian|
|7||182||Aleksi Makela||D||Ilves U20 (Jr A. SM-Liiga)||6"2||190||Finnish|
Valeri Nichushkin (Pronounced: Va-le-riy. Ni-choo-shkin), RW, 6"3, 196lbs, Dynamo Moscow, KHL (10th Overall)
First up is the pick that had Stars fans, and myself, jumping up and down. Valeri Nichushkin: arguably the best European player in the draft and at least in the top three of the entire draft talent wise. He fell to the Dallas Stars at No.10. For the Stars this is a huge steal.
Nichushkin solves the problem that the Stars have had in their prospect pool for the past couple of years, the lack of elite bluechip talent. Nichushkin is that. He is one of the most talented players to come out of Russia in recent years and it's likely the Russian factor had a lot to do with his drop through the first round.
Russian players are often stereotypically seen as offensive dynamos and nothing else. Nichushkin brings a well rounded, and impressive, two way game with good hockey sense. Though he does appear, according to scouts, to get tunnel vision occasionally. He skates very well and he can score. He hasn't ripped apart the KHL but he was playing as a 17 year old in the second toughest league in the world.
Nichushkin will end up either in the NHL or KHL next season. I don't know whether Jim Nill will want to rush him into the NHL but if he does I doubt it's in a top six position to begin with. Nichushkin has the size to be able to fill in a spot in the bottom six well while he learns the NHL game and prepares himself to step into the top six late next season or for 2014.
Nichushkin is going to be a great player. I love this pick and I think Nichushkin is going to look great in the NHL for a long time.
Jason Dickinson, LW/C, 6"1, 179lbs, Guelph Storm, OHL (29th Overall)
While some might consider Dickinson a reach at 29 it's probably around the point he would have gone if the Stars hadn't drafted him anyway.
Dickinson is the only centre that the Stars drafted this year but is a very interesting player. While there were other, arguably better/well known, prospects still available Dickinson represents something that the Stars appear to have aimed for this year. Boom bust prospects. Dickinson is definitely one of those.
The first thing that needs to be known about Dickinson is that he is streaky. His offensive game is streaky, and theres not really any other word for it. Hopefully this is related with his youth rather than an inherent weakness in his game. When he's scoring goals he will be scoring a lot of goals.
He's also got a big body and is willing to use it. He can deliver physically punishing hits but, again, this element of his game is inconsistent. When he does it he does it well.
His defensive game is pretty good, even with the inconsistent physicality, and his offensive tools are up there as well. He'd be a finisher rather than a playmaker but the Stars have quite a few playmakers in the prospect pool.
Dickinson has top six potential, he's got the tools but his issue is consistency. If he were to become consistent that Dickinson becomes a very good prospect for the Stars who could push himself into the spotlight amongst the Stars many above average prospects. If he doesn't improve his consistency then he could make a solid grinder if he makes the NHL.
Dickinson is high risk high reward. If he works out he will work out really well. The Stars need players like that.
Remi Elie, LW, 6"0, 203lbs, London Knights, OHL (40th Overall)
This was probably the most controversial pick of the entire draft, especially with players such as Nic Petan, Robert Hagg and Artturi Lehkonen still available. I hope though that people begin to view Remi Elie for what he brings to the Stars prospect pool and trust the Stars scouts for why they believed he would be better than other better known prospects.
Remi Elie was a rookie buried on one of the deepest and talented teams in the OHL. He played fourth line minutes and was able to step up well when injuries struck. He was noticed early on by various people as a potential sleeper and I think he could live up to that reputation.
Elie has proven he can play those bottom six minutes, being physical and being defensively responsible at the same time. He focuses on the little things and works incredibly hard. Having a good work ethic is very important for a young prospect, especially one who has only just finished his first season in the OHL.
Next season will see an increase in his point production because he will step up the lineup as other players graduate. He's got a good shot but more importantly he has the vision to see how a play will develop and he can adjust his play accordingly. With more time on the ice then he will score more points.
Remi Elie was drafted because of his potential. He's a rookie in the OHL and with his late birthday is going to play at least another two seasons in the OHL. He will have time to refine and mature his game and get those top minutes that will help develop him into an offensive threat.
It's too early to jump up and down on this pick, even if I would also admit it was a bit of a reach, because Remi Elie has the potential to be something good and has the natural skills and work ethic to be a good bottom six player if his offensive game never works out. He's a project pick and I therefore urge caution when addressing whether this pick was a bust or not.
Philippe Desrosiers, G, 6"1, 182lbs, Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL (54th Overall)
With Tyler Beskorowany's future with the Stars being murky at best and Maxime Lagace being less than impressive this season the Stars needed to firm up their goaltending pipeline. With Lagace likely graduating to the ECHL they would only have a single goalie, Henri Kiviaho, in the Juniors. It's possible that the Stars might sign Josh Robinson to an ELC as well to further improve the pipeline. Making sure there are plenty of goalies in the system is important for the long term success of a franchise.
While taking a goaltender in the second, and over other higher rated goalies, surprised some I think that Desrosiers was a good pick when it comes to goaltending picks. Especially when goaltenders are the most hit and miss of all players when it comes to the draft.
Desrosiers seized the starter job with Rimouski this season and didn't look back posting .900SV% in the most offensive league of the CHL. He plays with a lot of mental calmness for a young goaltender and doesn't allow mistakes to get to his mental game. He also impressed at the U18 tournament posting a .970SV% and took the starter job off a higher ranked goaltender, Spencer Martin.
He plays a game with very little movement and energy wasted and is very good at absorbing pucks and not allowing rebounds. Positioning is the name of the game when it comes to Desrosiers and he is excellent it, covering angles and stopping the pucks thrown at him.
There are a couple areas of his game that do need improving. Firstly his catching/blocking needs to improve and he rarely relies upon it to make saves. His puck movement as well isn't brilliant and he isn't going to be throwing the puck down the ice for the rush anytime soon.
Goaltenders are always projects and take a long time to develop. It might take a while but Desrosiers has some good potential on him and could become a decent goaltender at the professional level. The pick might have been slightly earlier than I would have liked but he has the tools to make an impact at some point in the future. There is no such thing as too many goaltenders in this league.
Niklas Hansson, RD, 6"0, 163lbs, Rogle J20, SuperElit (68th Overall)
Hansson is a player with some very interesting offensive talent and potential. He spent most of his season playing for the junior team for Rogle but at the end of the season earned himself a callup to the Elitserien. He became a trusted player for Rogle during their post season despite having only played 9 regular season games for them.
Hansson, like many sterotypical Swedish blueliners, is a highly intelligent hockey player who is also creative with the puck. He's flown under the radar compared to other touted Swedish blueliners but he has a lot of talent. His skating does need work however.
When it comes his offensive talent he has an excellent shot from the point and also has a knack for the perfect breakaway pass or long pass down the ice to help start the rush the other way. He can get his shot off very quickly and does pretty well on the powerplay.
Physically he isn't the type to hand out physically punishing hits but he does have the strength to protect and hold his own along the boards. He does get outmuscled by his bigger opponents but there is time for him to gain some more strength and possibly to grow a little bigger as well.
He does have an unfortunate habit of overextending himself but it's not hugely unsurprising for a young offensive defenseman to have this kind of problem. With time and refinement he could become a serviceable offensive minded defenseman. In a way he reminds me of the Stars own prospect John Klingberg.
I like this pick as it has a lot of upside and with the depth of defensemen the Stars have currently he will have the time to develop as needed in Sweden before making the jump to North America.
Nicholas Paul, LW, 6"2 202bs, Brampton Battalion, OHL (101st Overall)
Nick Paul is another one of those interesting picks that has potentially got a high reward but also a high likelihood of being a bust.
He's not a good skater by any means and it's something that he will need to rectify if he wants to make it in the NHL but he provides good physical play and the ability to be a good shutdown forward.
I like the fact that some scouts think that his offensive development is still coming and that with time could develop into something good. While I don't see him becoming anything beyond a bottom six player who can chip in offensively it's good that there is some room for development.
Every team needs those physical, defence first players in the era of the salary cap and I think Nick Paul fits that need while also providing room for some offensive development. Especially if he can get his skating up to scratch. He's another one of those players who is a rookie in the OHL and therefore he will have another two seasons to develop his game into something more than the shutdown role he has played currently this season.
At this stage in the draft Nick Paul was a solid pick to make.
Cole Ully, LW, 5"11, 164lbs, Kamloop Blazers, WHL (131st Overall)
Cole Ully is a smallish forward but one with some offensive upside. He had 50 points with the Blazers this season playing in between the second and third lines.
He is seen as a crafty forward with some good playmaking ability who can see and make the passes needed to create scoring chances. His shot can be a bit slow to be released but he can improve upon this over time.
The main problem with Ully is the fact that he is not a big forward and he is very slight. He can get punished physically and if he wants to make it at the next level he needs to get bigger and stronger. On the positive side despite his lack of size he is still willing to take a hit to make the play and to sacrifice his body to block a shot.
He also plays on the penalty kill unit for the Blazers, suggesting that he is defensively responsible and able to take care of business in his own end.
Again this is another one of those picks which could be highly rewarding, especially if he gets a bit bigger and his offensive talents continue to improve, but it's also likely that he will never play a game in the NHL. Especially if he doesn't improve upon his core strength.
He could make a serviceable third liner with some offensive upside but he needs a lot to go right in order to get there. At this point in the draft teams are going for upside and Ully has that.
Matej Paulovic, LW, 6"3, 187lbs, Farjestad J20, SuperElit (149th Overall)
This is going a shorter profile than others simply because there is so little recent information on him online or in any of the draft guides. He's a Slovak playing in Sweden and has spent most of this season playing with their J20 squad in which he got 24 points in 42 games.
There were comparisons, how accurate I don't know, a few years ago comparing him to Marian Hossa but the accuracy of that is questionable. It's likely that we won't know much about Paulovic and how he plays until he's at development camp in the next week.
I assume that the Stars scouts in Sweden think they have found a gem here as they went off most publish draft rankings with this pick. They have done this previously with Emil Molin and I trust the Star's Swedish scouts to know a potentially good players when they see one.
Aleksi Makela, LD, 6"2, 190lbs, Ilves U20, Jr. A SM-LIiga (181st Overall)
Makela is another pick that was unknown to us, though he was ranked 96th overall for European skaters by the Central Scouting Services. He comes out of the same organisation that Jyrki Jokipakka was drafted out of however and the Star's Finnish scouts have also been quite good at finding quality late in the draft from Finland.
He's another player that it's going to be a wait and see what they are like at development camp. When we find out more about him we'll let you know more.
I can't really make a judgement on him until I know what kind of game he plays.
Quick, General Thoughts:
The Stars have gone after wingers very heavily in this draft but they've also gone after those high risk high reward players that many Stars fans feel they have been passing up on in recent years in order to rebuild the prospect pool.
I feel like a lot of these players could become good but are just as likely, if not more, to not ever make a huge impact. They all have a lot of promise and there isn't really a classic 'safe' pick among this draft class meaning that it potentially could be pretty good or a complete bust in years to come.
It's far too early to make that kind of conclusion though, I am happy though that the Stars have drafted some serious talent and managed to acquire that bluechip prospect in Nichushkin that they have needed for several years.