With the playoffs underway, the Dallas Stars have proven adept at acquiring top-shelf NHL talent under General Manager Jim Nill, who has now been at the helm for three years. Other avenues of procurement have yet to pay such immediate dividends, but the Stars have some good players in every major league – including college hockey and the European leagues. Although some of the players are off the radar for the casual fan – and perhaps even management – others put together some encouraging work in the 2015-16 season.
The 2015 NHL Draft saw six defensemen from Finland selected for only the second time since the draft was reduced to seven rounds in 2004. Though none of those players were selected in the top two rounds — as current Pittsburgh Penguin Olli Maatta was in the 2012 draft class that was previously the largest — the 2015 draft class has increased the number of NHL-drafted defensemen playing in Liiga. This has helped to expand this list to a top 10 after listing just five players last year. Read more»
With the addition of former Mestis club KooKoo, Finland’s Liiga in 2015-16 will feature 15 teams for the first time in league history. But, while the Kouvola-based squad should enjoy an intense rivalry with neighboring SaiPa Lappeenranta in southeastern Finland, things aren’t likely to change at the top of the league standings. Read more»
With former GM Joe Nieuwendyk out and former Red Wings GM Jim Nill in, the Dallas Stars seem to be even more European-friendly than usual these days. A number of young European professionals in their ranks covered the entire success/disappointment spectrum over the course of the 2014-15 season. The NCAA ranks have largely thinned out due to graduation. Devin Shore and Michael Prapavessis, the only two remaining at the collegiate level, both had very strong finishes to their respective seasons and Shore has turned professional. Overall, the Stars’ European defense pipeline continues to be very sturdy.
Finland as a nation has produced several young defensemen in recent years. With many of those players now beginning to make their way in North America, including Dallas Stars‘ rookie Jyrki Jokipakka and St. Louis Blues prospect Petteri Lindbohm, the number of those players still plying their trade in the domestic Liiga has dwindled. Read more»