Dallas Stars 2011 draft preview

By Mike Farkas
Photo: Mark Scheifele went 14th overall in the Hockey’s Future staff mock draft. (Photo courtesy of the OHL)

Top 10 prospects

1. Jack Campbell, G
2. Philip Larsen, D
3. Alex Chiasson, RW
4. Scott Glennie, RW
5. Reilly Smith, RW
6. Tomas Vincour, RW
7. Richard Bachman, G
8. Curtis McKenzie, LW
9. Patrik Nemeth, D
10. Ondrej Roman, C

Team Needs

With Marty Turco now rendered as a fond memory as opposed to a Dallas netminder, the Stars may find themselves in a bit of a holding pattern in net. Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft are both under contract for the 2011-12 season and will likely remain as the NHL duo barring an unforeseen development. Richard Bachman and Tyler Beskorowany are quickly eating up their respective minor leagues and have never looked better. Meanwhile, Jack Campbell could be back in juniors but because he was drafted out of the USNTDP, he’s eliglble to turn pro if the Stars insist. In any event, the bases are largely covered once Bachman and the Stars agree to a new contract – which is very much expected.

The blue line is in flux. Alex Goligoski was brought in to add some mobility and puck-moving aptitude at the cost of James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Niskanen had worn out his welcome in Dallas and was more of a salary dump than anything else. Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley are locked up long-term, while Goligoski, Nicklas Grossman and Mark Fistric are under contract for the coming season. With that, there remains some questions as to who is the number one defenseman in the Lone Star State, further, do the Stars have a talent that could be considered a number-one. With ownership uncertain the ability for the Stars to add major pieces may be handicapped. Philip Larsen and the recently-signed Brenden Dillon will get long looks in training camp and may be called upon to handle some of the NHL workload, if necessary.

The forward corps is strong, but takes an undeniable hit with the loss of James Neal and the impending loss of Brad Richards. Wingers Loui Eriksson, Steve Ott, and Brenden Morrow as well as center Mike Ribeiro are locked up through at least 2013, which is comforting in the sense that it limits potential roster upheaval. Youngsters Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell have made positive impressions, certainly and will be counted on even more in 2011-12. Tomas Vincour‘s extended and unexpected call-up last season showed a lot of promise and he could very well make the team out of camp. Many of the Stars most ready prospects are character forwards that will fill in the bottom-six and most can be called upon as needed and Dallas won’t miss a beat.

Organizational Strengths

Dallas’ prospect cupboard features one a large group of depth forwards close to ready for the NHL. The organization has done a fine job supplementing their star players (homegrown in the case of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Steve Ott and formerly James Neal) with depth players that can step right in. The group of higher-end forwards that have not graduated is still ripe with talent, although it may be a few years before they will be impactful.

No longer a glaring weakness, their defense prospects have gotten stronger. It’s a far-cry from the weeks before the 2010 draft that saw 16 of the Stars top 20 prospects listed as forwards. European defensemen Philip Larsen, Patrik Nemeth and John Klingberg have developed very nicely and are projecting positively, with Larsen possibly looking at a full-time NHL gig next year. It’s not an ironclad strength as of yet, but great strides have been made. In net, they have three goalies that are moving up the ladder and their progression has likely negated the need for goalie to be high on their draft wishlist.

Organizational Weaknesses

The Stars used their first round pick, quite surprisingly, on goaltender Jack Campbell in 2010 and he has struggled a bit in his first junior season. Despite the iffy campaign, he’s the only Stars prospect that could be reasonably considered elite. While it’s been bolstered, a club can never have too many blueliners developing in the system – Dallas remains a little thin on the back line. Otherwise they have a very nice mix of prospects and are not lacking in the grit department.

Draft Tendencies

While a handful of general managers have been named in the last few years, the Stars still hold to a pretty steady draft strategy. They love selecting from the WHL and have had great success from there. Conversely, in the last seven drafts the Stars have only picked from the QMJHL once – Russian import Ivan Vishnevskiy, who was traded for Kari Lehtonen. In addition to having the WHL bookmarked, the Stars have been scouting fairly heavily in Sweden in recent years and it shouldn’t be surprising if that continues. Their scouts are not afraid to dive into lower-tier junior programs either, in fact, 1999 was the last time the Stars didn’t select from a Junior ‘A’ or second-tier junior program.

The Stars own the following picks: 14, 44, 74, 104, 134, 164, and 194. Though it’s likely that they will surrender their third round pick (74th overall) to New Jersey by not re-signing Jamie Langenbrunner.

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result:

No. 14: Mark Scheifele, C, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Scheifele brings a blend of size and skill to a group of center prospects that currently needs both. A playmaker by trade, he could down the road complement one of the Stars many talented young wingers.