Jack Campbell number one in top 20 for Dallas Stars

By Mike Farkas
Photo: Drafted 14th overall, Jamie Oleksiak brings a rare blend of size and moblity to the Stars blue line. (Photo courtesy of DJ Powers/HF)

After several graduations a few seasons ago, the Stars have built their prospect pool backup to a very impressive point. They still lack major blue-chippers but they have a lot of talent and a good mix of prospects in the system that can fill various roles at the next level. They’ve advanced their cause big time in terms of adding quality defensive and goaltending prospects.

1. (1) Jack Campbell, G, 8.0C
Drafted1st round, 11th overall, 2010

Goaltender Jack Campbell remains the top prospect despite a less-than-stellar start to his OHL career. His below average numbers were a product of a very poor start that he never quite fully recovered from and a fledgling defense on a young Windsor team. Campbell was prone to some untimely goals that cost him dearly at times. He did help Windsor get deep into the playoffs before being run into the ground by the OHL Champion Owen Sound Attack. Once again he represented the United States on the international junior stage and once again he was stellar. He was named the WJC tournament’s best goaltender (1.70 goals against average, .941 save percentage) and earned the United States a bronze medal in the process.

The athletically-gifted goaltender has great reflexes and a high compete level. He’s never out of a play and has the ability to steal games. Like many young goaltenders, he needs to continue to work on his technique and consistency. He’ll have the opportunity to compete for a spot in the professional ranks, but the Stars may utilize their option to return him to Windsor – a path which may be best for both parties at this point.

2. (2) Philip Larsen, D, 7.5C
Drafted 5th round, 149th overall, 2008

Danish defenseman Philip Larsen embarked on his first full professional season in North America in 2010-11. He did not look a bit out of place in 54 AHL games, where he registered 18 assists and 22 points while being a plus-3. He notched five points in six playoff games, but that wasn’t enough to keep Texas (AHL) from being eliminated in the opening round. He saw an NHL call-up for the second season in a row and didn’t disappoint. He does clearly needs to work on his strength and physicality level in order to make a bigger impact at the NHL level. Otherwise, he displayed good smarts and puck movement.

Larsen is likely headed back to the AHL to start the year but will be counted on as one of the first call-ups in case of injury up in Dallas. Larsen has a lot of pro experience for a 21-year-old and he continues to show a lot of promise as he moves up the ladder quickly.

3. (3) Alex Chiasson, RW, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 38th overall, 2009

As expected, Chiasson saw a big jump in ice time and opportunity at Boston University during his sophomore year and he did not disappoint. In 35 games, he doubled his career high in goals to 14 and tallied a team-best 34 points in all. He became a pretty imposing force at times and some of the smaller defensemen at the Hockey East level struggled to contain him. He’s been improving all facets of his game, including his skating and his defensive awareness and effort. So long as he keeps his compete level and willingness to improve on high, Chiasson will be a force to be reckoned with in his junior season and subsequently, his professional career.

Chiasson is a big, offensively-gifted forward that make things happen with the puck on his stick. He has a big frame that, if used correctly, can really make him an effective player deep in the offensive zone and near the net. He will return to Boston University for his junior season ready to take on the very best that opponents have to throw at him.

4. (NR) Jamie Oleksiak, D, 7.5C
Drafted: 1st round (14th overall) in 2011

The Stars used their first pick in 2011 on big, rangy defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from Northeastern University. Already a massive individual, Oleksiak is very mobile despite his enormous frame. At 6’7 and north of 240 pounds, Oleksiak has the potential to be dominant. With former Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin leaving for a position with the Maple Leafs, Oleksiak has decided to move-on as well – he’s off to Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League. The Toronto-native also decided that he’s on board with Hockey Canada and will attempt to represent the Canadians at the next World Junior Championship tournament.

With his colossal stature, Oleksiak certainly can deal some bone-crushing hits but he can also play a positionally-sound defensive game that relies on his big reach. Despite his low point totals at most levels of play, he does have good puck-moving skills but tends to end up in more defensive situations on more defensive teams. The move to major juniors may allow him to explore his offensive game a little further and develop it a little better. The problems with his skating are minimal, like most big men, he needs to work on his technical footwork in tight areas – including his ability to turn and pivot on a dime.

5. (4) Scott Glennie, RW/C, 7.5C
Drafted 1st round, 8th overall, 2009

Scott Glennie wrapped up his junior career just as it started – with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Glennie got off to a slow start with the departure of a lot of offensive weapons that were stockpiled by the 2010 Memorial Cup hosts. Eventually, Glennie found his groove and ended up just barely edging out career highs in goals (35) and points (91) in 70 games. He failed to advance Brandon or Texas (AHL) past the first round in their respective playoffs (10 points in six WHL playoff games and a single goal in six AHL contests).

The speedy goal-scorer has a nice wrist shot that he likes to utilize from anywhere on the rink. He is expected to move back to center at the AHL level and show off some of his vision. In order to be a successful pro, Glennie will need to improve his work rate and determination and up his toughness quotient when the chips are down in big situations. The Stars hope that the move to the pros will get Glennie on the right track for stardom.

6. (5) Reilly Smith, RW, 7.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 69th overall, 2009

Twenty more goals in six less games doesn’t sound much like a sophomore slump. Reilly Smith‘s use on the top line with senior standouts Andy Miele (PHX) and Carter Camper (BOS) paid huge dividends for the Mimico, Ontario native. He was a First-Team CCHA All-Star with 28 goals, 26 assists and 54 points in 38 games at Miami University. His efforts clinched a CCHA championship for the Redhawks as well. Forgetting about the fact that he’s doing it as an underclassmen, Smith was seventh in the nation in points and fourth in goals in 2010-11.

Still slight in frame, Smith should see plenty of time in the weight room as a junior so his offensive potential can be utilized at higher levels. He skates well and has very nice offensive awareness. He’ll now be counted on to pilot a top scoring line and it will be interesting to see if he can generate the offense under that kind of pressure.

7. (6) Tomas Vincour, LW, 6.5B
Drafted 5th round, 129th overall, 2009

Another successful fifth round pick from the Dallas organization is Czech import Tomas Vincour. Vincour made the jump from the WHL to the NHL last season unexpectedly. Though he started in the AHL (where he was originally slated to go), injuries moved him into the Dallas lineup for a quarter of the season. He manned the checking lines and worked the forecheck and cycle game quite well up in Dallas. He developed quality scoring opportunities, although the one goal, one assist stat line doesn’t suggest he had much of an impact. He played a well-rounded game and didn’t try to do over do it with the ice-time and linemate combo that he was dealt. In the AHL, he was able to grab 12 points in 44 games but only one assist in six playoff games.

Vincour is a powerful winger that has a good knack for finding the net. He can play a bang-and-crash game and cycle the puck with effectiveness. Problems with his skating stride were well-documented in juniors, but were largely overblown. He’ll never be terribly quick or agile, but he can get around the ice enough. Vincour has a shot to make the NHL roster out of camp, but the Stars might utilize his two-way deal and seek to develop his offensive game in the minors for another season.

8. (9) Patrik Nemeth, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 41st overall, 2010

The sudden emergence of Patrik Nemeth on the highest levels of the Swedish hockey scene has been a pleasant surprise for fans of both Dallas and Sweden. Not only did Nemeth crack the Elitserien roster of AIK, but he even found himself playing top-four minutes on the back end. Despite a nagging injury, he also represented the Swedes at the World Junior Championships.

At 6’3, Nemeth has the frame to be an imposing force. However, he’s still working out the kinks positionally now that he’s moved up to a higher level. In time, the physicality should come. He’s a fine skater, but he won’t be a big puck-rusher or anything of the sort. His offensive ceiling is somewhat limited, but if he can continue to deliver fine outlet passes then he’ll be in good shape at the NHL level. He’s still a bit of a raw prospect as a whole and will return to AIK in 2011-12 to continue to work on his game.

9. (7) Richard Bachman, G, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round pick, 120th overall, 2006

Richard Bachman emerged as the clear-cut starter in Texas (AHL) when Brent Krahn was felled, once again, by injury. Bachman performed exceedingly well behind the defensively responsible Stars. He finished top-five in all five major goaltender statistical categories (wins, goals against average, save percentage, shutouts and saves) among AHL netminders and he did it as a rookie.

Bachman employs a good deal of athleticism into his game to make up for his somewhat diminutive height. His reflexes can bail him out when the defense in front of him has a breakdown. While he shows a lot of promise, Bachman had a sophomore let-down at Colorado and will need to overcome a potential sophomore slump under a lot of pressure from Tyler Beskorowany, his backup, who is nipping at his heels every step of the way.

10. (NR) Brett Ritchie, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 44th overall, 2011

Sizeable winger Brett Ritchie had his season cut short on the young Sarnia Sting (OHL) club due to various ailments including a bout with mononucleosis. At times seeing top line minutes, Ritchie garnered 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points in 49 games played. He also represented Canada at U18 World Junior Championships tournament where he put in seven points in as many games. Ritchie has battled with consistency in his young career and his level of determination has been questioned during such slumps, however, with pro prospects on the horizon, a chance to be a beneficiary and finisher for skilled Russians Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov and a shot at representing his country at the World Junior Championships, I’d say Ritchie has a lot to strive for this season.

Ritchie is a big winger that can use his body well to protect the puck and win board battles. At times, Ritchie can check out of the physical game and stick to the perimeter but when he’s on, he’s tough to handle physically. He has a good wrist shot and a high skill level. He should make a big impact at the junior level in 2011-12.

11. (13) John Klingberg, D, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 131st overall, 2010

From Carl’s little brother to Elitserien and now to SM-Liiga defenseman, John Klingberg was something of an afterthought even on the Swedish hockey scene, much less international scene. Like many Stars fifth round picks recently, Klingberg has surprised a lot of people in a very short time. He jumped out of J18/J20 league split to playing 26 games in the Elitserien for Vastra Frolunda and still had the chance to dominate J20 SuperElit league (17 points in 13 games and 11 in seven during the playoffs – named playoff MVP for the latter effort). To top it all off, he played at the World Junior Championships tournament for Sweden.

A mobile, offensive-minded defenseman, Klingberg moves the puck well and can rush the puck himself quite aptly. He has good hockey sense and vision and can be an offensive spark plug. He still needs to get stronger as he is easily pushed around. His defensive game will take some time to round out, but his progression has been very impressive. He’s moved to Finland to play for Jokerit which will force him into a more straightforward, physical game.

12. (11) Tyler Beskorowany, G, 7.0D
Drafted 2nd round, 59th overall, 2008

After a somewhat forgettable junior career, Tyler Beskorowany moved to the professional ranks and put together a very nice performance. Beskorowany started with Idaho of the ECHL going 10-5-4 with a 2.35 goals against average and .928 save percentage and was named an ECHL All-Star. His save percentage very well could have led the league had he played enough games to meet statistical cut-offs. Due to injuries, Beskorowany served as Richard Bachman‘s backup for much of the year at the AHL level. In 18 contests, he went 7-8-1 with a 2.58 goals against average and .921 save percentage.

The 6’5 goaltender has been able to settle down a little after seeing some 40 shots a night in juniors. Texas’ more defensive style allowed him to avoid a barrage night in and night out and he responded very well. Like more than a few of his Stars netminding predecessors, Beskorowany can play the puck very well and make fine outlet passes. He’s still polishing some very raw talents and will likely get a shot to split time with Bachman in Texas in 2011-12.

13. (NR) Brenden Dillon, D, 6.5C
Signed as an undrafted free agent in March 2011

Brenden Dillon had a chip on his broad shoulders after being passed over in a couple NHL Entry Drafts. He returned to Seattle (WHL) as an overager and obliterated his career highs and got some looks from NHL scouts. In his previous three seasons combined, Dillon had three goals and 35 points in 208 games. In 2010-11 alone, Dillon registered eight goals and 59 points in 72 games. At the end of his junior career, he was rewarded with an entry-level contract with Dallas and saw a good amount of playing time at the AHL level when Seattle failed to qualify for the playoffs. Dillon did not look out of place and garnered rave reviews from teammates.

Now equipped with NHL-ready size (something we couldn’t say about five years ago, when he didn’t even have WHL-ready size), Dillon can throw his weight around well. He’s a mobile d-man that will likely end up taking on a more defensive role in the pros. He’s a heady player that sees the game well and doesn’t mind defending teammates if the situation warrants. He’s expected to get plenty of minutes in the AHL this coming season and might even see a cup of coffee in Dallas if necessary.

14. (14) Colton Sceviour, C/RW, 6.0B
Drafted 4th round, 112th overall, 2007

Colton Sceviour put together his second successful AHL campaign in a row and appeared in his first NHL contest in the process. Sceviour topped previous career highs with 16 goals, 25 assists and 41 points in 77 games as he moved back to centering a bang-and-crash third line. Sceviour was counted on to be a quality two-way player that could take important draws. He was only able to score one goal in six playoff games but he’s being groomed into more a defensive role player for the sake of his NHL future.

Sceviour plays with good energy and work rate and is carving out a pretty effective niche so he can be a regular NHLer. With Sceviour emerging as maybe the top of Dallas’ "plug and play" forwards, he should be looking at some more NHL looks in the not-too-distant future.

15. (8) Curtis McKenzie, LW, 6.5C
Drafted 6th round, 159th overall, 2009

It was a bit of a role reversal for Curtis McKenzie versus fellow Stars prospect Reilly Smith in 2010-11 at Miami University. While Smith flourished after only a decent freshman campaign, McKenzie struggled after a successful freshman season. He dropped from 27 points to 12 as a sophomore and saw his ice time reduced. The same hustle he displayed as a freshman was lacking in his sophomore campaign much to the chagrin of the Redhawks staff. McKenzie can grind it out in the corners and play a hard-nosed game to complement his fine skill level. He’ll need to earn back the trust of his coaches fully in order to take advantage of the big ice time that has been yielded by graduating seniors.

16. (NR) Troy Vance, D, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 135th overall, 2011

On the advice of a Dallas Stars scout, Troy Vance left the EJHL’s Philadelphia Revolution to ply his trade at a higher junior level – the QMJHL. The 6’5 right-handed defenseman joined the Victoriaville Tigres shortly thereafter and played quite well before Dallas snapped him up in the fifth round. While Vance is still feeling out the QMJHL‘s speed and skill level, he’s expected to emerge as a big, shutdown defenseman. He’s a bit of a raw skillset but once he gets more comfortable in Victoriaville he has the potential to be regarded as one of the league’s better shutdown blueliners.

17. (16) Hubert Labrie, D, 6.5C
Signed as an undrafted free agent in September 2009

Though a knee injury sidelined him for all but nine regular season games, Labrie came back rested and ready to dominate in the playoffs. He scored seven points in just nine games as a defensive blueliner during the regular season. In the playoffs, he took his game to another level as Gatineau (QMJHL) went deep into the playoffs only bowing out to Saint John in the championship. Labrie scored 12 points and a QMJHL-best plus-17 rating despite breaking his hand in the first game of the playoffs. The only drawback on Labrie is his size. Other than that, he’s a very intelligent defensive blueliner that will go to war for his team.

18. (15) Austin Smith, RW, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 128th overall, 2007

Austin Smith completed his junior season at Colgate University and despite the slow start to the team’s season, Smith and his Colgate mates turned things around and advanced all the way to the ECAC final four (despite finishing 12th out of 12 in the regular season). Smith also got off to a slow start himself but finished strong with 31 points in 41 games. Smith has been used in all situations at Colgate and shows good positioning on the rink. He’s a fairly quick player with a good burst that could be effective in making him a producing role player at the next level. Smith will return to Colgate for his degree and, barring a disaster, will likely be offered an entry-level deal by Dallas after his senior season.

19. (NR) Jyrki Jokipakka, D, 6.5C
Drafted 7th round, 195th overall, 2011

Dallas’ last pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was invested in Finnish overager Jyriki Jokipakka who jumped out of the junior ranks into being a regular SM-Liiga player for Ilves Tampere. More surprisingly, Jokipakka was not only invited to play for Finland at the World Junior Championships but excelled to the point that it may have been his ticket to getting drafted. Jokipakka has only an average overall offensive skill set, he can make good passes and play solid defensively. He’s not overtly physical but he’s been progressing very well and will continue to sharpen his skills in Finland‘s top league.

20. (19) Matt Fraser, LW, 6.0C
Signed as an undrafted free agent, November 2010

Fraser earned an entry-level deal during his overage season where he put up a team-best 36 goals in 66 games while spending more than 100 minutes in the penalty box. Fraser is rugged customer but also found a goal-scorer’s touch during much of his junior career – this was exemplified in the playoffs as he led the WHL playoffs in goals (15 in 18 games) as Kootenay was crowned WHL champs. Fraser brings a hardy work ethic to the rink and is a big-time warrior that saves his best for the postseason. Fraser is a winger that will fit nicely in the Stars system as a hard-worker, plug-and-play type winger that doesn’t require much maintenance.