Stars 2009 draft preview

By Mike Farkas

Top 10 prospects

1.    Ivan Vishnevskiy, D
2.    Jamie Benn, LW
3.    Fabian Brunnstrom, LW
4.    Ondrej Roman, C
5.    Philip Larsen, D
6.    Perttu Lindgren, C
7.    Richard Bachman, G
8.    Raymond Sawada, RW
9.    Sergei Korostin, RW
10.    Colton Sceviour, RW

The Dallas Stars hold the eighth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Team Needs

One need for Dallas is a reliable backup goaltender. It was a rough season for starter Marty Turco.  Despite the fact that Turco got shellacked for most of the year, now-ex coach Dave Tippett wasn’t too eager to call for a reliever.  When called upon, Tobias Stephan didn’t have the answer that Dallas was looking for (albeit in very limited action).  It wasn’t until the season was completely unsalvageable that rookie Matt Climie got the call to audition for a spot on the 2009-10 squad. 

Another need is for an impact rearguard. The Stars defensive depth was put to the test once again as veteran Sergei Zubov was lost for nearly the entire season.  Dallas used most of its defensive depth over the course of the year, including a late-season call-up for top prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy, who impressed.  If unrestricted free agent Zubov hangs up the skates for good, it leaves a big hole to fill.  The defense is made up of some younger pieces that have ranged anywhere from average to effective – the younger wave includes Matt Niskanen, Trevor Daley, Nicklas Grossman and Mark Fistric.  With Zubov getting a little long in the tooth and Vishnevskiy still untested, the Stars need for a top pairing defenseman looms large.  The depth is quite strong, but the impact rearguards are scarce at the moment. 

The Stars are strong on the left side of center, not only with the already intact NHLers but also WHL stars Jamie Benn and Ondrej Roman.  Down the middle, Swedish playmaker Tom Wandell got a couple chances to show his stuff at the NHL level and will get a strong look in camp.  Having Jere Lehtinen and Joel Lundqvist being the two most notable unrestricted free agents doesn’t leave room for a lot of turnover. 

Organizational Strengths

The Stars organizational strength is a myriad of forwards.  Goal scorers Jamie Benn and Fabian Brunnstrom lead the way, along with playmaker Ondrej Roman.  Future grinders like Raymond Sawada and Matt Tassone can be found a bit farther down the list.  While Perttu Lindgren, Sergei Korostin, and Tom Wandell could become decent depth down the line (Wandell sooner rather than later). 

Most of the Stars prospects are forwards (11 of the top 15), giving the Stars a good chance of churning out valuable future depth. 

Organizational Weaknesses

The Stars lack bluechip forwards; despite Benn’s recent WHL success, it’s unclear whether his scoring touch will fully translate to the next level.  Dallas has a distinct deficiency on organizational defense.  Vishnevskiy, Larsen and to a lesser extent Guillaume Monast are in the top 20, but after that there are only two other blueliners in the system. 

The Stars have little in the way of impact forwards waiting in the wings.  Guys like Sergei Korostin and Perttu Lindgren are hit or miss but Raymond Sawada and Matt Tassone are likely to turn out as a bottom-six depth.  A speedy, impact forward couldn’t hurt the Stars lineup, but that could be said about most clubs. 

The Stars don’t have any sure things in net.  Richard Bachman and Tyler Beskorowany didn’t progress as hoped this season and may have, in part, prompted the pursuit of Elitserien standout Jonas Gustavsson.  Nearly all the goaltenders in the organization had a rough go of it in 2008-09.  Bachman failed to follow up his widely acclaimed freshman campaign with a similar sophomore effort.  Bachman was lit up a few times by stronger competition and failed to produce a consistent brand of hockey expected this season.  An even more unflattering story came out of Owen Sound.  Beskorowany once again, he was left facing a barrage of shots nightly but wasn’t able to keep the Attack alive (winning just 11 of his 37 games played).  As the season went on, 2009-eligible Scott Stajcer began to receive more and more starts and eventually went on to become Owen Sound’s go-to guy in their quickly stymied playoff run.  Stajcer may have supplanted Beskorowany as the starter in Owen Sound or perhaps even punched his ticket out of town. 

Draft Tendencies

The Stars draft tendencies aren’t as certain as they would normally be. Dallas is on their third general manager since November 2007.  All are curious to see how the recently-hired Joe Nieuwendyk will handle the crucial 2009 draft.  Nieuwendyk and Co. will have at least five picks to work with (8th, 38th, 69th, 128th and 158th) or, depending on conditions, might have a sixth (183rd or 188th).  Recently, as an organization, the Stars have stayed out of the QMJHL (except when taking Russian defensemen in the first round, a caveat used to make the mock pick).  Besides that, they’ll take players out of virtually any other outlet, including U.S. high schools, Canadian Junior ‘B’ clubs, and Europe. 

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result at No. 8: Dmitry Kulikov, D