With hockey season right around the corner, the Stars’ writers at Hockey’s Future are putting their prognosticating powers to the test to try to pick the Stars’ prospects that will be of greatest note during the upcoming season. Geoffrey is Hockey’s Future’s first-hand Dallas Stars expert, and he has been able to closely scrutinize our young players at training and rookie camps these past few weeks. Though Keith lacks the first-hand view of training camp this season, he does have amazing prophetic abilities and lucid visions of the future. Instead of harnessing these powers to promote world peace or become a millionaire, Keith has decided to turn them to the (much worthier) pursuit of sports prediction.
Geoffrey’s picks for the All-Prospect Team:
F-Steve Ott: This feisty, talented forward will finally see pro action this year. He’s expected to spend most of the year with Utah and see a couple of call-ups unless he has an outstanding camp. He should perform well in Utah should he be there since he should have an important role being one of the most talented Stars prospects. Still, Ott is completely focused on making the Stars at camp, and he’s trying to add a little more bulk to his frame to increase the chance that he makes the NHL quickly. It might be unwise to bet against him.
F-Joel Lundqvist: This Swede has had his stock rise considerably since his draft with a strong rookie season in the Swedish Elite League. A hard worker with a high skill level, Lundqvist also has a nice sized frame that still needs a little more development physically. He’s got nice hands for both passing and scoring, so he should be an important player for his team. Odds are good that he should progress.
F-Mike Ryan: In his final year of college hockey, Ryan will be the key player for Northeastern. He’s stated that he wants to bring some glory to the program, and this is his final year to do so. He still needs some muscle on his frame to be an effective pro, but his talent and desire is undeniable. If he gains consistency this year, watch out for some very high offensive numbers.
D-Martin Vagner: The Stars’ first pick in the 2002 draft immediately became the team’s future on D. He’s a good defensive defenseman with great skating and mobility who has some offensive upside. Even if his offensive numbers don’t rise, he’ll be an important player for his team with his solid defensive play and smart passing.
D-Dan Jancevski: Jancevski will be a key player for Utah in his second year there. He’s already shown to be great defensively as well as a force physically. The question is whether he can increase his offensive output in the pros. Personally, it doesn’t seem to far fetched.
G-Jason Bacashihua: ‘Cash’ will enter into his first year in the pros as Utah’s backup for Corey Hirsch. ‘Cash’ is very motivated and should play well for Utah. Potentially, he may even be able to supplant Hirsch with solid, consistent play as Hirsch has a history of inconsistency.
Keith’s picks for the All-Prospect Team:
F-Steve Ott: An obvious pick, but one that needs to be made nevertheless. The agitator who once seemed like a smallish Verbeek-clone, has grown into a nice-sized hockey player with a mean-streak and great instincts. He is the Dallas Stars best and most valuable prospect now, and he shows a remarkable knack for showing up in the big game. Ott has every intention of making the big club this season, but the Stars depth and prospect conservatism is working against him. Morrow holding out could be a great thing for Ott, but even spending the season in Utah he is likely to have a big and positive impact for the franchise. Ott is on the cusp of truly great things, and the startling vision I had while staring into my cup of coffee this morning merely solidifies this truth.
F-Steve Gainey: But, you say, Steve Gainey is not that good? Right you are, but we are picking prospects who will make an impact this season and Gainey is definitely one of those whose time to succeed is at hand. He may be a checking line player, but the Stars biggest hole this season could be a winger for that final line. Many of the wingers we had there last season had “iffy” seasons, and the Stars may be willing to take the next step in Gainey’s development as a checker. Gainey is as ready as he’ll likely ever be, and he needs an audition.
Last night I had the strangest dream. In this dream, Gainey gets called up midway through the season and he brings the energy and youthful enthusiasm this team is sorely needed. He becomes a fan favorite and an excellent checker. Then, he rides off on his giant moose shouting “Viva la spatula!” and “Death to porpoises!”. (not sure what the last part means).
F- Anthony Aquino: When I picked the joker right after the queen of hearts, I knew Aquino was destined to play an impactful role in the Stars’ near future. Hearing that he dropped out of college to pursue hockey full-time was merely icing on the cake. Aquino may be younger than Ryan, but he shows very similar potential as an offensive player. More importantly, Aquino may have a bigger impact in the very near future because of his intentions. Aquino has declared that he will play hockey professionally this coming season at some level, and he is devoted every effort to finding his spot. Perhaps more importantly, if the Stars do not sign Aquino, he could theoretically escape next season due to a loophole in the system. The Stars must sign Aquino or lose him to unrestricted free agency when Aquino goes to Juniors.
Perhaps Aqunio won’t have a positive effect, but he will have a significant effect nevertheless. The Stars must either sign him as a player, trade his rights to someone who will, or let the valuable prospect escape. The Stars are in quite a potential predicament here, and their decision with Aquino may have a big effect on the organization.
D – John Erskine: Erskine is technically still a prospect, but my crystal ball says “not for long” (I have one of the talking kind). Erskine is big, has more potential upside than Helenius, and is becoming a more intelligent defensive player all the time. Even if he doesn’t become a regular, he will most certainly have high trade value soon. Perhaps more importantly, he’s big.
Did I mention he’s big?
D – Trevor Daley: I was quite surprised when my magical Mexican Jumping Slug spelled out Daley’s name in a trail of slime the other day, but on further review perhaps it isn’t so surprising after all. Daley is an unfocused, head case with a horrible attitude, but you cannot deny his extreme, raw talent. Daley was once projected as a first rounder, but (much like Clayton Williams) he found himself constantly slipping in the polls with every moronic action. Still, Daley’s affect on the Stars could be huge. Next year he could establish himself as an extremely valuable offensive defenseman or a nearly worthless prospect. But even I cannot predict what one of this draft’s most talented picks will decide to do with himself next season.
G – Jason Bacashihua: This guy seriously rocks. Not even the fact that Dan Ellis is a Capricorn and Jupiter is in regression can dissuade me from making so obvious (and necessary) a pick. If “Cash” is not the most influential prospect/goaltender on the Stars this season, I’ll wear a Bryan Marchment jersey to every Stars game next season.
We were pretty skeptical when the Stars picked him first overall, but now we are true converts. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a two-syllable last name, so there’s no way he could ever be starting goaltender in Dallas. What mantra would the fans chant when he plays well?
This article was written by Geoffrey Ussery and Keith Riskey.