For their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft (26th overall), the Dallas Stars selected hulking but mobile Czech defenseman Martin Vagner. According to the Stars directory of hockey operations, Les Jackson, Vagner may have slid in the draft because he struggled a bit in the second half of the season.
The 2002-03 was a rough year for the young defenseman. He saw his point totals slide after being expected to take on a bigger role on the team. Throughout the season he struggled with major inconsistency in all facets of his game. He managed to pull it together and played decently for Hull as they made a run at the Memorial Cup.
High contract demands and a lack of progress formed the Stars’ decision not to sign him and allow Vagner to re-enter the draft. This time he had to wait till the ninth round before the Hurricanes announced his name and made him their second Czech pick in the 2004 crop after another re-entry Jonas Fiedler.
Vagner is able to play well in the defensive zone thanks to his mix of solid size, skating skills and an above-average mobility. He has very good wheels for a big man and his effortless stride makes his skating smooth. A poised blueliner, Vagner joins the rush with solid timing, but still tends to misread the plays and is prone to the odd bad decision when moving the puck. He is average positionally, but displays solid creativity with the puck. He isn't afraid of mixing it up and occasionally he even drops the gloves. Vagner only needs to display his mean streak every game and show up every night. His booming slapshot from the point, which is accurate and fast released, can be counted to his strengths. But he has problems with putting the pieces of the puzzle together and even if he is talented, he failed to make significant progress during the two seasons from the 2002 draft and his sub-par showing at the Memorial Cup caused his stock to take a dive.
He recorded the 34th fastest time during the puck-control competition at the 2002 CHL prospects game (18.88 seconds)... He came in with the 27th hardest shot (85.2 MPH)... 34th in the 60 foot dash (3.24 seconds)... 33rd in the 150 foot dash (6.42 seconds)... 32nd-best full lap time (15.69 seconds).