Jack Campbell remains the top prospect for the Dallas Stars

By Mike Farkas
Photo: Although his performance with the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) has been sub-par, Jack Campbell remains one of the top goaltending prospects under 20 years of age. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

Despite some struggles for the first-year junior prospect, Jack Campbell remains atop the Stars prospect pool. He’s followed by nearly-ready blueliner Philip Larsen who has made his way to North America after a successful foundation was laid in Sweden. The Stars top pick in 2009, Scott Glennie falls to fourth with the emerging dominance of Hockey East standout Alex Chiasson. The Stars crop has some excellent depth growing and waiting in the wings.

1. (1) Jack Campbell, G, 8.0C
Acquired: 1st round, 11th overall, 2010

USNTDP product Jack Campbell retains the number-one slot on Dallas’ prospect list despite a forgettable major junior debut. Things have evened out a bit after a horrid start for Campbell, but it still hasn’t been pretty. Behind a young, inexperienced, inconsistent defense, Campbell has puttered along to a 19-13-3 record with a 3.89 goals against average and a .883 save percentage. The aforementioned numbers compare rather unfavorably to less-heralded netminding teammates John Cullen and Troy Passingham.

From sports psychiatrists to personal issues, Campbell has been saddled with high expectations and has failed to meet them as a rookie. Still, his international resume is among the best in recent memory for a player his age and being the best against the best of his peers is a great sign. Campbell has a ton of talent and a great demeanor and the organization has the luxury of not rushing the young goalie into the pros with Kari Lehtonen holding the fort.

2. (3) Philip Larsen, D, 7.5B
Acquired: 5th round, 149th overall, 2008

Danish defenseman Philip Larsen has begun to craft his trade in North America and it’s been a pretty smooth transition all things considered. Larsen has brought some offense (16 points in 40 games) but his first priority is to adapt to the North American style of the game. He’s been steady defensively and moving the puck well out of his own zone. Larsen needs to bulk up in order to withstand the rigors of the speedy, physical game on this side of the pond. With that, he should gain some more confidence in his game and be a little less timid all over the rink.

One of many fifth-rounders that will appear on this list, Larsen is a smooth skater with good hockey smarts. He’s not a major league shooter and probably won’t be for quite some time but he has great vision on the power play and when initiating the breakout. He’s already been invited up to Dallas for a couple cups of coffee (six games this season, eight career) and should get a strong look at next year’s training camp but Stars fans shouldn’t be too concerned if he doesn’t make it right out of the gate next season either.

3. (4) Alex Chiasson, LW, 7.5C
Acquired: 2nd round, 38th overall, 2009

One of Hockey East’s most dominant power forwards, Alex Chiasson has turned the term "sophomore slump" on its head. He leads Boston University in scoring (13 goals, 31 points in 30 games) and is second among underclassmen in Hockey East scoring (Stephane Da Costa). He has not only exceeded on the scoresheet but also in his own end, rounding himself out nicely into a complete player. As he continues to grow as a player, he may soon out-grow the collegiate level.

Chiasson did a great job of dedicating himself to being an impact player over the summer by working hard on his skating and strength. The results are obvious. He’s a good skater for a power forward, who does good work below the dots and has a lethal shot. The Quebec-native is making great strides in both play and consistency and should be a fixture in the Dallas lineup in the not-too-distant future.

4. (2) Scott Glennie, RW, 7.5C
Acquired: 1st round, 8th overall, 2009

It was an anxiously slow start for Scott Glennie this year on a decimated Brandon Wheat Kings team. Of the team’s seven roughly-point-per-game players last season, the only returnee was Glennie. As the focal point of the offense, the star forward struggled to put up points on a consistent basis and was looking listless some nights. While he has picked up his game as of late, with just a handful of games left in the season, Glennie needed to pick up the pace to avoid posting a junior-career low in goals. His 32 goals and 80 points in 62 games are nothing to sneeze at but neither figure leads the Wheaties and many would expect better from a top-10 pick in his fourth year of juniors.

Drafted for his speed and his skill, Glennie exudes plenty of both attributes. He’s been working on improving his defensive game in an effort to help him prepare for his impending pro career. It’s been somewhat disappointing that Glennie has not manufactured points from dirty areas of the ice and has been, at times, invisible in big game situations.

5. (9) Reilly Smith, RW, 7.5C
Acquired: 3rd round, 69th overall, 2009

The breakout year from Reilly Smith has vaulted him up into the top-five prospects. Through just 33 games, Smith already has more goals (24) than he had points last season (20 in 44 games). The sophomore is the only 20-goal scorer on the Miami University Redhawks and is the highest scoring underclassmen in the CCHA. He has quickly snapped into the position of being one of college hockey’s premier underclassmen.

Smith is a very good offensive player with a dangerous shot. He has good wheels, good instincts and sees the game very well which leaves room for further improvement in the defensive end. Head Coach Rico Blasi already trusts the young forward to play in all situations. He has something of a slender frame, but once Dallas’ newly-appointed fitness guru (and legendary power forward) Gary Roberts gets hold of him, that will be a thing of the past.

6. (7) Tomas Vincour, RW, 7.0C
Acquired: 5th round, 129th overall, 2009

The young Czech winger turned pro in 2010-11 down in Cedar Park for the AHL‘s Stars and has been a positive force. The numbers are by no means overwhelming (five goals, 12 points in 44 games) but he’s been excellent along the boards and in the cycle. He’s been a quality physical presence and an active participant defensively. He has shown enough promise that perhaps, in small part, helped make the departure of similar forward James Neal (since traded to Pittsburgh) easier to swallow long-term. Vincour’s smarts and instincts have been a big help to Texas and even earned him a call-up to the big club where he has not looked at all out of place.

Vincour, always using his big frame to his advantage, is only in the lineup because of his injuries for now, but that may not be the case for very much longer. He is highly regarded within the organization and is another fifth rounder with a very bright future in the Lone Star State.

7. (8) Richard Bachman, G, 7.0C
Acquired: 4th round, 120th overall, 2006

Former Colorado College netminder Richard Bachman has graduated from the ECHL Idaho Steelheads to being a full-time starter with AHL Texas Stars. Through 41 games this season, Bachman is 21-14-3 with a 2.30 goals against average and a .924 save pct. – placing him firmly in the top-10 among AHL goaltenders with regard to all major goaltending categories. The numbers, while impressive for an AHL rookie, are inflated by some degree by the Stars defensive-minded tactics.

Bachman has a lot of athleticism in his game and high-quality reflexes. He has above average lateral movement and can get from post-to-post rather hurriedly. One of the biggest knocks on him is something that he can’t control: size. Bachman looks fairly slender in net and like most young goalies isn’t a profound master of positioning. With the play of Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft being signed through next season, it seems that Bachman will be in the minors for the foreseeable future.

8. (6) Curtis McKenzie, LW, 7.0C
Acquired: 6th round, 159th overall, 2009

Trending in the opposite direction of teammate Reilly Smith is Curtis McKenzie. After an impressive freshman campaign, McKenzie has fully embraced the dreaded sophomore slump. With just six goals and five assists in 32 games, he isn’t destined to get close to matching his point totals from last year. While he is continuing to bring a strong physical presence and conscientious defensive game, the scoring touch has gone AWOL. As such, McKenzie has largely been demoted to the bottom two lines. And to make matters worse, the intensity and effort level that made him a pleasant surprise last season is now inconsistent at best.

McKenzie is a solid body with a projectable frame that plays a gritty game but also shows some offensive pizzazz from time to time. He’s a good forechecker and can be an imposing physical presence. However, if this year is any indication, he’ll need to give a more consistent effort night in and night out regardless of where he plays in the lineup.

9. (13) Patrik Nemeth, D, 7.0C
Acquired: 2nd round, 41st overall, 2010

The development of rangy blueliner Patrik Nemeth has been accelerated and has surpassed expectations to this point. Not exactly a lock for the Swedish U20 WJC team, Nemeth plays a solid, if unspectacular, defensive game for his country. Initially, he wasn’t considered ready for Elitserien play but sure enough he’s logging top-four defensive minutes on AIK (SEL) as a 19-year-old. Nemeth’s steady, physical, no frills approach continues to be a valuable asset to his teams and he continues to improve.

The 6-foot-3 Swedish defender is a mobile defensive defenseman that plays a rugged physical game. He doesn’t have much in the way of offensive skills but can make safe passes with some efficiency. The Stockholm native is expected to spend at least one more season in Sweden.

10. (5) Ondrej Roman, C/LW, 6.5C
Acquired: 5th round, 136th overall, 2007

After a season back in the Czech Republic, Ondrej Roman is back in North America playing for the Texas Stars. More often than not, the playmaking Roman is occupying a second line spot in the American League. Roman’s numbers are not flashy – 12 assists and 19 points in 53 games – but as a rookie on a defensive-minded team they aren’t abysmal. The issue with Roman is assertiveness; he doesn’t necessarily need to initiate contact but he needs to be able to absorb a little better. A small frame and European style has led him to more of a perimeter game.

Roman is a very good passer with excellent vision. He has an accurate shot that he can place virtually anywhere but has a high tendency to pass the puck and will at times cost his team scoring chances due to his unselfishness. Roman has filled the shoes that Perttu Lindgren left, but maybe they have become a little too indistinguishable.

11. (10) Tyler Beskorowany, G, 7.0D
Acquired: 2nd round, 59th overall, 2008

Tyler Beskorowany is following the Stars prescribed path to the big show. After completing a decidedly average junior career on defenseless teams, the Stars first pick in the 2008 draft moved on to the ECHL where he has been very successful – much like his predecessor Richard Bachman. Beskorowany has gone 10-5-4 with a 2.35 goals against average and .928 save percentage – the goals against average is second best and the save percentage is the best in the NHL’s Double-A affiliate. Additionally, the 6-foot-5 rookie earned a spot in the ECHL All-Star game.

Beskorowany covers a lot of net, but could still work on keeping his frame fully-projected when moving from post to post. He has a nice glove hand and is handy with the stick. Like most young goalies (and some old) he could stand to cover up some holes in his technique and work on his rebound control. That said, Beskorowany is off to a promising start in his pro career and hasn’t missed a beat filling in at the AHL level for injuries.

12. (11) Perttu Lindgren, C, 7.0D
Acquired: 3rd round, 75th overall, 2005

Once again, Perttu Lindgren resides in Finland. Lindgren left North American hockey late last season to re-join Lukko Rauma (SM-Liiga A). And finally, Lindgren found the magic that he had during his rookie season. The one-time leader of the top Finnish league in points, Lindgren still has an impressive 20 goals and league-leading 41 assists. Lindgren struggled somewhat with the physicality and constant determination level that the North American game requires. Due to his success in Finland, it’s likely that he’ll capitalize on that and remain in Europe – the Stars don’t seem to have any urgency to bring him back over.

13. (20) John Klingberg, D, 6.5C
Acquired: 5th round, 131st overall, 2010

John Klingberg makes the biggest jump in the prospect rankings due to his relatively rapid development rate. He has been quite dominant in the J20 SuperElit league where has expected to spend much of the season and then moved up to the Elitserien with Vastra Frolunda where he has been used sparingly. Klingberg had a couple points for the Swedes as he represented at the U20 World Junior Championships.

Klingberg is a smooth, offensive-minded defenseman that has very good puck skills. He likes to rush the puck ahead and join the rush just the same. The younger brother of Atlanta prospect, Carl, will likely earn more ice time when he plays a more defensively sound brand of hockey. He also needs to add some weight to his frame.

14. (15) Colton Sceviour, RW, 6.0C
Acquired: 4th round, 112th overall, 2007

Second-year pro Colton Sceviour is developing his scoring touch after good experience as a rookie – not unlike the beginning of his junior career. He’s on pace to smash career highs in points and assists while his 11 goals already top his total from last year. Due to a rash of injuries, Sceviour made his NHL debut on February 5th in Philadelphia.

The 2007 draft choice is an industrious winger that is willing to do the little things necessary to win. He’s good defensively and is developing a good nose for the net. Sceviour is a good fit for the Stars as he’s a versatile forward and can play anywhere in any situation and not look terribly out of place. He plays a quiet, usually error-free game.

15. (12) Austin Smith, RW, 7.0D
Acquired: 5th round, 128th overall, 2007

Texas-native Austin Smith is the fifth fifth-rounder in the top-15 for Dallas as he wraps up his junior season at Colgate University. With just eight goals, 17 assists and 25 points, Smith is looking at career lows almost across the board. Like his team though, Smith has struggled and was even scratched at one point this year. Despite the lackluster totals, Smith is still second on his team in points behind Francois Brisebois.

Utilizing his speed and skill at the college level has come pretty easy for Smith but really needs to work on the grit factor and puck protection if he wants to exceed at the next level. He’s great at finding open areas of the ice and sniping the net but is still growing at other aspects of his game. It seems like a better-than-average chance that Smith will go the distance at Colgate.

16. (19) Aaron Gagnon, C, 6.0B
Acquired: Free agent, February 2nd, 2007

The oldest remaining prospect in the top-20 is also perhaps the most NHL ready. The Dallas Stars management tends to agree as evidenced by his 19 games already this season. Though he’s only posted two assists while playing on the fourth line with scant penalty kill seconds now and again, Gagnon is probably slowly earning a fourth-line spot for 2011-12. His ability to play on the PK and to win faceoffs are two niches that will can make players of his ilk NHL regulars.

Gagnon is not much more than a blue-collar fourth-liner and his numbers have suffered a bit at the AHL level likely due to his constant shuffling between Cedar Park and Dallas. He plays a smart defensive game and is willing to do what it takes in all areas of the ice to play in the NHL in a limited role.

17. (14) Hubert Labrie, D, 6.0C
Acquired: Free agent, September 18th, 2009

Gatineau Olympiques captain Hubert Labrie has been limited to just three games this season due to an injury that has kept him out of all the preceding contests. The diminutive defensive defenseman scored a goal in his season debut while providing a nice spark to the lineup with his heart and determination. To date he has three goals and one assist through three games. Despite his size, Labrie is a menacing force on the rink, using his excellent skating and hockey sense to play great defensive hockey while unleashing some surprisingly big hits.

18. (18) Alex Theriau, D, 6.0C
Acquired: 4th round, 109th overall, 2010

It’s been a slow, injury-riddled year for the young Duncan, British Columbia native. Alex Theriau will now join his third WHL team in three seasons – this time it’s the Medicine Hat Tigers. Compared to seven points and a team-worst minus-18 in 37 games in Everett, his four points and plus-12 in eight games with Medicine Hat is a good sign of an awakening. Although blessed with very good skating and good hockey sense, Theriau is somewhat sluggish, even shy, during games. He doesn’t play with a ton of energy but he can be an effective two-way player in the future. Once he shakes off his injury troubles and slow start and moves to a good team, Theriau may blossom quickly.

19. (NR) Sean Backman, C, 6.0C
Acquired: Free agent, March 30th, 2010

After going the distance at Yale University, Sean Backman turned pro with the Texas Stars and has been a solid addition to the somewhat-punchless scoring depth. With 18 points in 49 games, Backman is just two points behind Roman among team freshmen. With a shoot-from-the-hip style and a high work rate, the Yale grad has more or less replaced former prospect Chris Conner (PIT) in the organization. Both players play a similar style with a similar size and may have a similar career trajectory.

20. (NR) Matt Fraser, LW, 6.0C
Acquired: Free agent, November 18th, 2010

Undrafted winger Matt Fraser caps off the Stars top-20 list with an exclamation point. Through 57 games with Kootenay (WHL), Fraser has 29 goals, 64 points, and has surpassed the century mark in penalty minutes for the third straight season. He’s a leader in all areas for Kootenay and was noticed by Peoria (AHL) at the end of last season when they brought him in on a part-time tryout.

Fraser plays the game with truculence and bellicosity while exhibiting a strong nose for the net and a nice wrist shot. If Sean Backman replaces Chris Conner in the organization then Matt Fraser is supplanting Matt Tassone who has been derailed a bit by injuries. Fraser is a meat-and-potatoes type already with pro size. Fraser is a good organizational depth signing by Dallas with room to grow into a checking/role player in the big show.