If you’ve been paying attention to Gone Puck Wild lately, and shame on you if you haven’t, then you know school has begun as Wild fans brush up on their knowledge of the new teams within Minnesota’s division. This week, that new team just so happens to be ”the old team”–that’s right–the Dallas Stars. Going through Sunday, we’ll break down Dallas’ major additions and subtractions, strengths and weaknesses, prospect pool, 2013 draft class and team outlook.
We’ve already covered the big guns in Dallas’ prospect pool. Let’s take a look at the latest recruits added to the fold via June’s 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In one day, and seven “action-packed” rounds, the Dallas Stars added nine youngsters to their organization–including four in the top two rounds of the draft. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the crown-jewel of this year’s Stars crop is 10th overall pick Valeri Nichushkin.
In the months leading up to the draft, the race for 1st overall status seemed to be locked up between Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon and Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones. However, three other top prospects would eventually throw their hats into the ring for the title, including fellow Halifax forward Jonathan Drouin, Finnish Phenom Aleksander Barkov and the hulking Nichushkin. MacKinnon, Barkov, Drouin and Jones were off the board in that order by the time Carolina selected Swede Elias Lindholm at 5th overall, and Nichushkin fell right into the Stars’ lap at 10th. Talk about an incredible steal by Dallas.
Per Elite Prospects:
A winger with great size and pure skill, Nichushkin has drawn comparisons to fellow-Russian Alexander Ovechkin. He is an excellent skater with a combination of quickness and agility topped of with great top-end speed. Nichushkin has a very dangerous shot as well as very good playmaking-ability. Thanks to his size, strength and brilliant puckhandling he can power through the defence on his way to the net. Nichushkin still lacks consistency and either the will or vision to share the puck when there is no opening instead of trying to finish every play himself. (Matias Strozyk, 2013)
The thing that stood out for me about this kid was his dominant performance on home ice at the 2013 Ufa, Russia World Junior Hockey Championships. He had a goal and an assist with a plus-5 rating in six games, but was just a dominating presence in all zones of the ice. He was arguably Russia’s best player in the tournament, even with 2012 1st overall pick Nail Yakupov in the lineup.
Dallas may have just created one of the most talented future top lines in the Western Conference with the selection of Nichushkin and the acquisition of Tyler Seguin.
With the 29th pick of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Stars selected Canadian center Jason Dickinson of the OHL’s Guelph Storm. Dickinson is the kind of player that can do everything quite well, but he’s inconsistent. He’s got good size (6’1″ 179-pounds), skill and both defensive and offensive instincts, but he doesn’t use it to his advantage all the time. In other words, he’s raw and has all the tools, it’s just going to take some time for him to put it all together. Fortunately, Dallas will be more than happy to give him all the time he needs to put it together. A few more seasons in the OHL, a few in the minors and Dickinson will likely be a quality second or third line option in Dallas for a long time to come.
In the second round, Dallas would select two more Canadians–left winger Remi Elie and goaltender Philippe Desrosiers.
Here’s what Huw Wales of Defending Big D had to say of Elie:
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.
He did score seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points and a plus-7 rating in 65 games as a rookie on London’s fourth line. So there’s something to think about.
Desrosiers is an interesting selection for a few reasons: one being he was selected relatively high in the draft, and the other being there is not much depth in net in the Stars organization after top prospect Jack Campbell. Desrosiers is very good at absorbing pucks and not allowing very many rebounds, but does need to work on handling the puck and using the glove and blocker to make the save. He did take over the starting role in Rimouski, posting a 3.07 goals against average and .900 save percentage in 43 game in the offensive-minded QMJHL. With some quality development, he could be a legitimate contender for the starting role in Dallas at some point in the future.
In rounds three through seven, Dallas would take two defensemen and three left wings. The highlight of these picks would likely be third round selection Niklas Hansson (gee, I wonder what country he’s from?). In 39 games with Rogle Jr. of the SuperElit, the Swedish blue liner would score three goals and 20 assists for 23 points and a plus-26 rating.
According to Elite Prospects, Hansson is described as:
A raw talent. Hansson is an offensively skilled defenseman with very good hockey sense. He handles the puck comfortably, has good hands, a nice release and can set up plays. Strong on the powerplay. Capable skater with good mobility. Defensive game and decision making needs some improvement. (EP, 2013)
I swear, has anyone ever read or heard anything bad about any Swedish defenseman? If so, I’d like to know.
With two selections in round five and none in round six, Dallas selected three left wings in rounds four and five–Canadians Nicholas Paul and Cole Ully and Slovak Matej Paulovic.
With their final selection, the Stars tabbed Finnish defenseman Aleksi Makela. A bigger defenseman at 6’2″ 190-pounds, Makela spent last season with Ilves organization of Finland’s SM-Liiga. In 37 games with Ilves U20, he would score eight goals and nine assists for 17 points and a plus-3 rating. He would also play seven games with Ilves’ highest level team, scoring a goal and an assist for two points and a negative-2 rating.
While there wasn’t a single American drafted by the team from Texas (why I said that, I don’t know–just roll with it), this was no doubt a very talented and intriguing draft class for the Stars. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly it pays off for them.