1. Trevor Daley, D (2002 Draft Pick, 43rd overall) – Remaining atop the Dallas Stars prospects group yet again, Trevor Daley is the Stars’ best bet for the future among offensive defensemen. He’s capable of controlling the play from the point once he perfects his skills at an NHL level. Having lost his rookie status (played in 27 NHL games last season with the Stars), Daley will become a mainstay on the point, and look to veteran Sergei Zubov for training and advice as the season progresses. Daley’s recent arrest in Toronto, over alleged threats at a nightclub, should have little to no impact on his season, and he will look to take a spot on the No. 3-4 defense pairing.
2. Junior Lessard, RW (Free agent signing, 2004) – Dallas signed the 2004 Hobey Baker Award winner late last season. He arrived with plenty of hype, leading the NCAA in scoring with 61 points in 35 games, and helping his team reach the Frozen Four. With Scott Young, Valeri Bure, and Shayne Corson all vacating their spots on the Stars’ forward lines, look for Lessard to see plenty of time on the third or fourth line in his rookie NHL season.
3. Dan Ellis, G (2000 Draft Pick, 60th overall) – The trade of goaltender Jason Bacashihua to St. Louis was the final step for Ellis’ pursuit of the backup role with Stars. He spent last season juggled between the Dallas Stars, the Utah Grizzlies of the AHL, and the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. Ellis was back with the Steelheads for the playoffs, leading them to the 2004 Kelly Cup Championship. He is expected to become Marty Turco’s backup in the upcoming season as he is the most ready and most qualified of Dallas’ many goaltending prospects.
4. Antti Miettinen, LW (2000 Draft Pick, 224th overall) – Miettinen could show early this season that he belongs in the NHL, after a brief stay with the Stars last year. Scoring 30 points in 48 games with the Utah Grizzlies in 2003-04, he could make the jump up to the NHL.
5. Loui Eriksson, RW (2003 Draft Pick, 33rd overall) – The Swedish league rookie of the year in 2003-04 is a well-rounded player, possessing good size, speed, and toughness. Eriksson may need one more year overseas before making the jump to North American-style hockey. He is the best Stars prospect playing in Europe right now.
6. Shawn Belle, D (Trade acquisition, 2004) – Belle collected 29 points in 55 games for Tri-City of the WHL before being traded to Dallas just before the 2004 NHL Entry Draft for Bacashihua. Possessing a very powerful shot and good passing and skating skills, Belle could see a lot of action on the Stars blueline this season, splitting time with Trevor Daley and John Erskine.
7. Johan Fransson, D (2004 Draft Pick, 34th overall) – Dallas’ penchant for Scandinavian prospects may have given them another gem in Johan Fransson, the Swedish blueliner who was runner-up to Loui Eriksson for rookie of the year in the SEL. A very promising youngster who has great vision, he sets up scoring chances with precision passing. He will remain in Europe for now, and will not see action with any Stars affiliates for another year or two.
8. Jussi Jokinen, LW (2001 Draft Pick, 192nd overall) – A late pick in 2001, Jokinen continues to live up to the potential to crack Dallas’ roster as a young, energetic forward. He picked up 38 points in 55 games with Karpat of the Finnish Elite League last season, tied for second on his team. He needs to add some bulk to his frame, but otherwise has good offensive talent. He’s also a good faceoff man, a great asset for a player who is most often seen on the wing.
9. Vojtech Polak, LW (2003 Draft Pick, 36th overall) – This agile and speedy Czech winger split last season with Karlovy Vary and Sparta Praha, totalling 9 points in 45 games. Polak needs work on physical game and defensive techniques as he spends too much time focusing on finesse and impressive offensive skills. He has loads of potential, and is looking to perfect his game in Europe before testing them on North American ice.
10. Yared Hagos, C (2001 Draft Pick, 70th overall) – Hagos is a strong forward with good puck control, using his size very well in keeping control of the puck and fighting off opponents. He had a decent season in 2003-04, racking up 20 points in 48 games, along with 75 PIM’s with Timra of the Swedish league.
11. Mark Fistric, D (2004 Draft Pick, 28th overall) – The 2004 first choice will take on checking role in Dallas once he works on mobility and agility. Fistric racked up 192 PIM’s in 72 games with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, adding 12 points as well. He was the recipient of the Pat Quinn Defenceman of the Year Award for his team. He’s showing hints of a Derian Hatcher-type player in the making; limited offensive skills, but crushing physical play and solid defensive prowess.
12. Tobias Stephan, G (2002 Draft Pick, 32nd overall) – The Swiss netminder had a very strong season with Kloten, registering a 14-11-0 record in 26 games, with a 2.33 GAA, 5 shutouts, and an assist as well. Still behind Dan Ellis and Mike Smith in terms of pro potential, Stephan will most likely spend another year in the Swiss league.
13. David Bararuk, LW (2002 Draft Pick, 147th overall) – This mid-round pick had a good year in the minors, split between the Utah Grizzlies of the AHL, and Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. He registered 27 points in total, in 68 games, and 14 points in 15 playoff games with Idaho, part of the Kelly Cup winning team. Has exceptional playmaking and puckhandling skills, but needs to fill our and work on defensive aspects.
14. B.J. Crombeen, RW (2003 Draft Pick, 54th overall) – Crombeen played with the Barrie Colts of the OHL last season, picking up 50 points in 62 games, and adding 12 points in 12 playoff games. He also tallied 154 penalty minutes during the regular season. He has both physical and mental toughness –showing up to win games and work hard. Crombeen has leadership qualities and improving offensive skills but needs to work on consistency in his offensive game. He will remain with Barrie for the 2004-05 season.
15. Joel Lundqvist, C (2000 Draft Pick, 68th overall) – Lundqvist had a decent season with Vastra Frolundra HC Goteborg of the SEL, registering 23 points in 49 games. He has resigned to play in Sweden, and will not make the jump to North America this year. Has a very solid all-around game, and is a hard-working player, utilizing his size and speed well.
16. Raymond Sawada, RW (2004 Draft Pick, 52nd overall) –Rookie of the Year winner Sawada collected 20 goals and 32 assists for 52 points in 54 games for the Nanaimo Clippers last season. He has the potential to be a lower-line energy player once his skills bring him up to the pros. He already has good size and a good attitude. Sawada will move on to Cornell University in 2004-05.
17. Matt Nickerson, D (2003 Draft Pick, 99th overall) – Nickerson picked up 179 PIM’s in 38 games with Clarkson of the NCAA. He has very impressive size, at 6’4 and 230 pounds an will eventually play the role of checker and enforcer for Dallas. He signed a rookie contract this summer.
18. Mike Smith, G (2001 Draft Pick, 161st overall) – Smith compiled an 8-11-0 record, .908 save percentage, 2.83 GAA, and 2 shutouts on a weak Utah Grizzlies team last season, and will battle Dan Ellis for the backup role in Dallas this upcoming season. He has excellent puckhandling skills and is very good with the puck. His 6’3 stature is a mixed blessing, as he has not yet learned to cover up holes in his stance, and cover certain angles. He also needs to work on corralling rebounds.
19. Artem Chernov, C (2000 Draft Pick, 162nd overall) – This Russian prospect totalled 19 points in 48 games with Omsk Avangard in 2002-03. Good on faceoffs and clutch situations, the shifty 5’11 forward has great vision of the ice, and is a talented playmaker. Chernov needs to improve physical game before making the jump overseas.
20. Dan Jancevski, D (1999 Draft Pick, 66th overall) – Jancevski had another strong year with the Utah Grizzlies, tallying 22 points in 80 games, and adding 171 penalty minutes. He has great size as a stay-at-home defenseman. He has a powerful shot, but does not bring much else to the table offensively, being a poor skater and puckhandler. The Stars are very deep on blueline right now, so Jancevski has his work cut out for him this season. He may see some NHL action if there are injuries.
George Bachul contributed to this article. Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.