Stars’ Late Season Mini-Report

By Geoffrey Ussery

Usually, the Stars farm system is rather quiet in terms of news. A few
players may have good years and shoot up the rankings, but there is not much
in
the noteworthy category going for them. This spring turned out to be a
little
different than usual. A few prospects (and former prospects) saw their names
in
the headlines in their respective countries. Let us take a quick look at
these
happenings.

Ryan, Aquino Traded

The two most skilled prospects on the right side, Northeastern captain
Mike
Ryan and the suspended Anthony Aquino, were both sent elsewhere at the trade
deadline.

A second round pick in 1999, Mike Ryan was traded with a second round
pick in
the upcoming draft, assumed to be the Stars’ own pick, for veteran forward
Stu
Barnes. A move to bolster the Stars for a playoff run, the Stars traded away
a
good prospect in Ryan, and if the second round pick was indeed theirs, a
very
late second round pick for a versatile forward in Barnes. While the Stars
did
unload who some consider their best goal-scoring prospect in the deal, they
gained an immediate asset for players that may never hit the squad. With the
Stars current depth and a few players pushing to join the team relatively
soon,
there was no guaranteed spot for Ryan. This move is definitely good for the
present, but time will tell exactly what they gave up in Ryan.

The other skilled RW, Anthony Aquino was sent to the Atlanta Thrashers
for a
6th round draft pick. Aquino, who left Merrimack to join the Oshawa Generals
of
the OHL, played a small number of games before being barred from OHL
competition
because of a pending appeal on a court case involving his departure from
Merrimack. After leaving the Generals, the whereabouts of Aquino were
unknown.
Then at the deadline, he was moved and promptly signed by Atlanta.

These two moves depleted the already thin depth on the right side in the
Stars’ system but are great for a team in win now mode. They got a good
contributor at cost of a good prospect and decent pick, and a late round
pick
for a forward who probably would not sign with the organization.

The Daley Drama

One of the biggest stories recently was surrounding superb prospect
Trevor
Daley. After a loss, then Sault St. Marie Greyhounds coach John
Vanbiesbrouck,
used a racial slur to refer to Greyhounds captain Daley in a meeting with
players while Daley was absent. At practice the next day, the players in the
meeting told Daley about the slur, who, after consulting his agent Bobby
Orr,
left the team. Soon after, Vanbiesbrouck admitted to using the slur and
stepped
down as coach and GM of the Greyhounds while remaining a minority owner.
Daley
then rejoined the team and finished out the season with the Greyhounds.
However,
in the team’s first playoff game, Daley injured his knee and was forced to
sit
out the remaining three games of his team’s playoff series as the Kitchener
Rangers swept the Greyhounds.

Mighty Miettinen

Finnish superstar Antti Miettinen, who made his way into the limelight
last
year with a breakout season, followed up with another excellent campaign in
the
SM-Liiga. Miettinen’s play was so excellent that he was awarded the Lasse
Oksanen Trophy naming him the SM-Liiga’s best player. The voting for the
award
was quite lopsided in the promising prospect forward’s favor. His 25 goal,
25
assist campaign had him a shade under a point per game, but he was a key
player
for the very strong HPK team that finished first in the regular season and
third
in the SM-Liiga playoffs. In the playoffs, Miettinen posted a goal and 7
assists
in the 10 games in which he played for HPK. Miettinen was suspended for 3
games
in the first round against TPS for a kneeing incident, so he did not play
each
game for HPK. After this season, it is possible that he will be signed by
Dallas
over the summer. Next up for Miettinen is probably the World
Championships.

Lundqvist a Champion

One of the other Stars prospects who had a very good year, Joel Lundqvist
of
Frölunda can add SEL Champion to his resume as Frölunda swept Färjestad in
the championship series. Lundqvist and his linemates started off the
playoffs
cold, but he and especially Carolina prospect Magnus Khanberg turned it up
and
played a pivotal part in the later series for Frölunda including the
championship series. Lundqvist finished 3rd overall on his team in playoff
scoring and 2nd in goal scoring. Lundqvist has improved quite a bit over the
season, and his production continued in the playoffs when it mattered most.
It
seems unlikely that the Stars are ready to bring him to North America at the
moment as he could probably use a little more development time, but the
possibility is there. Hopefully, he will be invited to join the World
Championship squad for Sweden, but the odds may not be in his favor since he
is
so young.