With the Stars system graduating such players as Lehtinen, Langenbrunner, Mativchuk, and Hatcher, along with trades involving Iginla and Harvey, the cupboard was quickly emptied. However, in the past couple of years the Stars have had some solid drafts, and seem to have begun the restocking process. Following the “lower risk” philosophy of drafting, the best role player available has helped the Stars accumulate good defensive depth, and has given them a glut of feisty, two-way forwards. What this philosophy has not done however is provide them with true snipers and game-breakers, thus resulting in their need for high priced free agents to compensate. With this depth the Stars system has been ranked in the upper middle of NHL teams for the last two years, and will continue to be given much time and patience for further development.
Below are the Stars top ten prospects, with comments.
TOP 10 PROSPECTS
1. Brenden Morrow-LW 5-11 195lbs
Excellent two-way player with the ability to score goals, and create some for others. Has also developed quite a mean streak in juniors, willing to hit anything that moves, and to crash the net as well. Many scouts question if he is big enough to make it in the NHL with this style of play. He’s no worse than a 20-goal, tight checking 2nd or 3rd liner. What you see is what you get, and that isn’t too bad. He has an average skill level, excellent defensive awareness, and his intestinal fortitude. He has been mentioned in a few trade rumors of late, and has seen his stock rise around the league.
PORTLAND (WHL) GP-53 G-37 A-37 PTS-74 PIM-207 +/- -2
2. Jason Botterill -LW 6-3 210lbs
The one time college sniper is kind of hard to figure out at this point. Once heralded by many as the next great goal-scoring power forward on the horizon, Botterill has seen his stock slide over the last year or two. This was mainly due to injuries, and not playing regularly at times. However, some scouts have questioned his battle level and drive, sighting his average numbers in Kalamazoo. His shot, hands, body checking, and size (6-3 210lbs) are all NHL quality, and yet his numbers don’t reflect this apparent talent. Although his skating is not bad, it is not at the level that his other skills are at, as his stride seems quite laborious at times. In all, with a playmaking centerman he is a solid 2nd line 20-25 goal power forward, and without one he is a skilled 15-20 goal 3rd liner who can play some defense as well. While his stock is sliding somewhat, the Stars are still going to be patient with a player of his size and potential.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-39 G-8 A-13 PTS-21 PIM-75
STARS (NHL) GP-13 G-0 A-0 PTS-0 PIM-14 +/- -1
3. Richard Jackman -D 6-2 180lbs
One of the most skilled defensemen not in the NHL, and he knows it. That fact alone seems to be the only potential stumbling block in his quest for success. A Paul Coffey like skater, terrific passer and point man, a nice shot, and good instincts, he possesses a truly envious package of physical tools. On the flip side, his attitude is not nearly as polished or envious, and could very well effect his potential success in the NHL. Because of these problems he often tries to make high-risk plays, and relies too much on his talent alone, forgetting his defensive responsibilities at times. If he can break this trend, and add some more muscle, look for him to become a potential 40 point No. 2 caliber defenseman, similar to the Stars own Daryl Sydor.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-50 G-8 A-11 PTS-19 PIM-94
4. Roman Lyachenko – C 6-0 175lbs
A veteran of three WJC’s, and captain of this year’s gold-medal winning Russian squad, Roman appears on his way to the NHL soon. Known for excellent defense, and sound leadership, he has created a lasting impression on many scouts who have seen him play. The Hockey News called him the most underrated player at the 1999 WJC. Furthermore, most scouts have yet to see him truly display his full offensive abilities, as he is assigned a checking role in most tournaments. This doesn’t mean he is not offensively talented, for he shows a good set of hands around the net, but rather attests to the greatness of his defensive prowess. His offense is not only adequate, but is probably vastly underrated, somewhere in the mold of a Sergei Nemchinov. While his skating still needs some fine-tuning, Lyachenko looks to be a 15-20 goal checking- center with some offensive pop, a potentially great 3rd liner.
YAROSLAVL (RUS) GP-36 G-8 A-6 PTS-14 PIM-47 +/- +8
WJC (RUS) GP-7 G-3 A-2 PTS-5 PIM-0 +/- +5
5. Sergey Gusev – D 6-1 195lbs
Gusev posses a great first pass, good vision and shot, is very mobile, and looks to have improved his overall game. With these skills he has also shown himself to be a good point-man on the power play as well, and generally plays a consistent game in his own zone. On the other hand, Sergey’s weaknesses lie in his avoidance of physical contact, and his tendency to pinch in the offensive zone. These problems are due to his continued acclimation to the Northamerican style of play, although progress can be seen in these aspects. He appears to be a No. 6 defenseman with the deep Stars, but his talent is greater than that. Look for him to be a 20-25 point producer for now, which is good for the six slot on the Stars.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-10 G-0 A-6 PTS-6 PIM-10
STARS (NHL) GP-17 G-1 A-3 PTS-4 PIM-4 +/- +3
6. Marty Turco – G 5-11 175lbs
Even though Marty Turco is the all-time college wins leader, he has still opened a few scouts’ eyes this season. Playing in the “I” with the K-Wings, Marty has been amongst the league leaders all season in save percentage, goals against average, and shots faced. Then also account for his winning record on a sub-.500 team, and you have the Stars potential goalie of the future. While his stature is somewhat small at 5’11”, his main obstacle in becoming a NHL goalie will be whether or not Dallas keeps Roman Turek. If they keep Turek, then Turco will be a backup with Dallas, but if they lose him, then Marty has a decent shot at a No. 1 job. Known for good reflexes and positioning, Marty Turco could be a name that surfaces in the NHL in the near future.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-40 W-18 L-14 T-6 GAA- 2.57 SAVE%- .922
7. Jon Sim – LW/C 5-9 175lbs
At only 5-9 175 lbs many scouts wonder if this guy can make it at the next level. Blessed with excellent hands around the net, this little man just seems to make things happen. Whether it’s throwing a check, digging for a puck, getting under his opponent’s skin, or scoring a goal, he can do anything to win. Proof can be seen in his first year as a K- Wing, as he has ranked near the top in every rookie-scoring category in the league. Right now he is a perfect fit for the Stars second line. Even with his lack of size, he could make the Stars roster out of training camp next year. He just makes too much happen to not warrant playing on one of their top scoring lines.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-58 G-20 A-21 PTS-41 PIM-85
8. Jamie Wright – LW 6-0 175lbs
Another player that should be given more opportunities to play, but seems to be stuck in the “I”. Plays mainly a defensive game, utilizing his excellent speed to break up plays. While not the most creative player on the ice, he seems to be able to create some offensive chances, and shows a decent set of hands. Jamie doesn’t play overly physical, but will not avoid contact when it is presented. The Stars could use his speed and defensive smarts on their 3rd or 4th lines, along with his projected 10-15 goals per season. However, Jamie must show a little more in order to stick permanently with the Stars. Could find a roster spot tough to obtain since the system is becoming crowded with promising left-wings.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-47 G-15 A-11 PTS-26 PIM-70
STARS (NHL) GP-8 G-0 A-0 PTS-0 PIM-0 +/- -4
9. Brad Lukowich – D 6-1 170lbs
At about 6-1 170lbs, he must gain some weight in order to handle the rough going in the NHL. However, what he lacks in the weight department he makes up for in his mobility, and in his overall skill level. He also shows a knack for annoying opponents, and doesn’t back down from physical play either. Brad must become a little more consistent in his decision making in his own zone, and he also must distinguish himself from the other puck-rushing defenseman the Stars have in order to crack the lineup. The talent is there, but the Stars are too deep. He could easily play for someone else in the NHL though, unless the Stars decide to move one of their other D-men instead.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-59 G-6 A-18 PTS-24 PIM-83
10. Peter Buzek – D 6-0 205lbs
Most hockey followers have heard the story of Buzek’s car crash, shattered kneecap, and miraculous recovery. What most have failed to realize is his increased leadership presence, and his 30 min. plus of ice-time per game this season. These aspects make him appealing to the Stars, and have made him a legitimate pro-prospect. On the other hand, he still shows some decreased mobility form the accident, and limited offensive potential on the whole. Still able to make the good first pass out of his own zone, Buzek will be primarily a defensive defenseman judged on his plus-minus rating. Further more, he could find himself with another club since his contract expires at the end of the season.
K-WINGS (IHL) GP-57 G-2 A-13 PTS-15 PIM-62