Stars 2002 Draft Preview

By Geoffrey Ussery

Stars 2002 Draft Preivew

With the Stars’ season over already, fans of the team sit and ponder what the Stars are going to do during the offseason. The Stars moves are going to be more difficult to predict this summer as it is the first offseason with Doug Armstrong as the GM. Already, he pulled two surprises on fans first sending left winger Martin Rucinsky along with center Roman Lyashenko (*sniff*) off to the New York Rangers for left winger Barrett Heisten and center Manny Malhotra, and then sending fan favorites center Joe Nieuwendyk and forward Jamie Langenbrunner to the Devils for center Jason Arnott, right wing Randy McKay, and the Devils’ first round selection this year. Thus, it is no surprise that Stars fans are unsure what to expect at this years’ draft.

With the highest pick the Stars have had since they selected defenseman Richard Jackman in the 1996 Entry Draft and the #13 and #20 picks in the first round, there are many routes the Stars could take. They could hold onto both picks and use them to continue to fill a Stars system depleted by poor drafting in the mid-90s and repeated success in the late-90s. They could hold onto one pick and move the other in part of a draft-day deal to try to get some immediate help. There is even a slight possibility that they could move up in the draft if they are willing to part with a key player or prospect.

In the Stars’ system, there is a relative lack of offensively gifted wingers, especially at right wing, and two-way or offensive defenseman. The Stars have some very good defensive defensemen in the system in Dan Jancevski, Jeff MacMillan, and Andre Lakos. There are some promising offensive players in the system, but many are still a few years away from making the league. As well, many of the Stars’ talented center prospects can play left wing, so drafting a right wing, a position which is currently highlighted by Anthony Aquino, may be in the cards.

This year’s draft is not considered particularly strong. There are three or four highly regarded prospects near the top of the draft, with another small strong group following them, but after that, the draft is full of rather even prospects that could go anywhere depending on each team’s preferences and needs. Each player in this group has a few good strengths coupled with a few weaknesses.

The 13th Pick
Here are some brief profiles of players worthy of consideration that may be around at the #13 spot:

Vladslav Evseev-RW-6‘2“-195 lbs.-09/10/1984
Once a consensus Top 5 pick, this big, extremely talented RW has fallen in the final CSB and other rankings due to inconsistent performance and injuries this year as well as the emergence of other European players. Evseev is an excellent skater, a good passer, and a clever shooter. Possessing good hockey sense and leadership, Evseev has already developed many of those important “character” intangibles. He will even drop the gloves if necessary and plays a defensively conscious game. Still a bit immature by some reports, but he already has the size and fundamentals, and would he be an excellent choice for an organization needing a pure offensive talent on the wing if he fell to #13.

Alexander Semin-C/RW-5‘11“-175lbs.-03/03/1984
The speedy Alexander Semin has seen his stock rise rapidly over this year with several good showings at international tournaments including his 15 point in 8 game performance at the World Under-18 Championships. Semin is a dynamic offensive talent with good speed and skating, excellent stick handling, a good slap shot, and the rare ability to shoot accurately on the fly. If Semin winds up this far down in the draft, size and the necessity of much more development before being NHL-ready are the primary reasons. But this kid has so much talent, he definitely deserves a hard look-see by the Stars if he should fall to #13.

Denis Grebeshkov-D-6‘0“-170 lbs.-10/11/1983
This defensemen may be one of the most NHL ready players in the draft. He’s already very mature for his age level. He is a very intelligent and hard working player. In the Russian Superleague, he was not used in an offensive role, but Grebeshkov was able to showcase his offensive skills in international tournaments this year. Scouts say he posseses a hard, accurate shot and the hockey sense to be an effective powerplay quarterback. Still, he is also not as physical as he could be and needs a little more upper body strength.

Eric Nystrom-LW-6‘0“-185 lbs.-02/14/1983
The son of Islanders’ great Bobby Nystrom had a good freshman season with Michigan in the NCAA where he was named “Rookie of the Week” numerous times and was second on the team in scoring. Eric is a good two-way player with a good set of skills. He is also balanced skater. He is responsible at both ends of the ice and possesses good hockey sense and attitude. In this sense, Nystrom would be a much more traditional Dallas Stars pick: a solid two-way player with good leadership abilities. Eric has soft hands, and he could be an effective top-line player at the NHL level if he continues to develop. Still, Eric is many years away from the NHL so (like most picks) this is one that won’t pay off for quite awhile.

Sean Bergenheim – LW- 6’0” – 185 lbs. – 02/08/1984
Bergenheim is a left wing steeped in a Jokerit system in Finland known for producing fast skating wingers. This season Bergenheim earned a debut in the highest level of Finnish hockey league where he scored twice in 11 games. Though not a playmaker, Bergenheim is a talented puckhandler and can score from the wing using his immense speed. Though still unproven at higher levels, Bergenheim would be an interesting pickup for a team that loves to draft Finns. Speed is his biggest asset, and he deserves a look-over by the speed-deprived Stars.

Daniel Paille-C-6’0”-195lbs.-01/22/1984
Though he doesn’t necessarily fit in a category of the Stars short-term needs, Paille is a nice centerman prospect who jives well with the Stars traditional philosophy of drafting. Paille is a good all-around player who is effective on the ice in nearly all situations. Though not a brilliant defensive player and not much of a finisher of the booming body check, Paille’s timing and quickness make him a good penalty killer and his speed and moves make him an excellent resource in the transition from defense to offense. In Juniors, Daniel has become a point per game player and he has demonstrated the kind of leadership and hard work of a potential captain. Offensively, Paille can handle the puck well at full speed and is known to showcase his nice selection of flashy moves from time to time.

The 20th Pick
Some players of interest that may be around at the #20 spot are:

Johnny Boychuk-D-6’2”-205 lbs.-01/19/1984
Johnny Boychuk is a physical defenseman with blooming offensive ability. He’s a fearless player who can thrown big open-ice hits and will drop the gloves. He likes to play along the wall. He has a cannon of a shot and has decent passing ability. He also has above average speed, good positioning, and good mobility. As well, he is a more traditional Dallas pick.

Alexander Steen-C-6‘0“-185 lbs.-03/01/1984
Alexander Steen is a teammate of Stars’ prospect Joel Lundqvist. Steen saw Swedish Elite League action this season with Frolünda. Steen is an excellent skater with good skills. Though not physically that developed yet, Steen plays fearless hockey and does not shy away from contact – an excellent sign. Steen is only 17 years old, but with a great work ethic and flashy play he has already earned a spot playing in the competitive SEL.

Adam Henrich-LW-6‘3“-220 lbs.-01/19/1984
Henrich is one of the more impressive packages in the draft when considering fundamental skills and size alone, but he is so inconsistent and sometimes disinterested that some question his ability to go to the next level. Henrich is a large player with decent speed. He has excellent stickhandling skills, great hands, and a booming slapshot. Is quite a gamble, but should he get his head on straight he could be a good to great power forward in the NHL. His combination of size, skill, and mental makeup conjures up comparisons with current Star Jason Arnott.

Ondrej Nemec-D-6’0”-190 lbs.-01/27/1983
Nemec is a skilled offensive defenseman. He has good vision on the ice, and can pass well or carry the puck on his own. He is an effective powerplay quarterback with a hard, accurate, deflectable shot. He is a little undersized, but will no shy away from physical, nasty play. His skating still needs some work, however, and he is a bit inconsistent.

Martin Vanger-D-6‘2“-210 lbs.-03/16/1984
Vanger is a big, strong-skating defensive defenseman. He is a poised player who plays an intense game without going out of the way for a big hit. He plays well along the wall, and has excellent defensive positioning. He is a good passer, but doesn’t just take the puck and go. He also tends to get undisciplined at times and passes rather than shoots. Despite his size, he could be more physical. Vanger is another more traditional Stars pick.

Jonas Johansson-LW-6‘0“-185 lbs.-03/18/1984
Johansson is speedy and has good offensive skills, but is not very physical or strong. His work ethic may need improving. Johansson is ranked high because scouts believe he has a lot of talent, but Johansson saw very limited ice time this season and his lack of visibility will hurt his draft spot. If Stars scouts have the inside scoop on this kid, they may take him as a sleeper. Its possible he may even slip to the second round.

By: Geoffrey Ussery and Keith Riskey