Dallas found at least one star in 2007 NHL draft

By Mike Farkas
Photo: Taken in the 5th round of the 2007 draft, Jamie Benn has quickly developed into one of the most talented forwards on the Dallas Stars. (Photo courtesy of the NHL)

The 2007 NHL Entry Draft involved a lot of movement for the Dallas Stars. They only used their own pick twice in the entire draft. Among all the movement, they are unable to get back into the first round after moving their pick (with Mathias Tjarnqvist) to rent Ladislav Nagy. Combined with another move that saw the Stars ship off their second and third round picks (the former became Oscar Moller) as well as a first rounder in 2008 for Mattias Norstrom, Konstantin Pushkarev, a third rounder and a fourth rounder in 2007, the Stars were still unable to get out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They came out of the draft with eight players in all, only two were picked in the top 100, half of all picks were from the fifth round, but to date only one has significant NHL experience – Jamie Benn.

Nico Sacchetti
, C, Virginia (USHS-MN) – 2nd round, 50th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Without a first rounder or their own second rounder, the Stars' first pick came at 50th overall and they went the U.S. High School route with Nico Sacchetti. They go back to the same well that produced their first round pick in 2005, Matt Niskanen. Sacchetti had an explosive final high school season before moving to the USHL with the Omaha Lancers where he was a Clark Cup Champion and notched 24 points in 56 games but had a fairly disappointing playoffs.

From there, Sacchetti has spent the next four seasons at the University of Minnesota but has always fought for minutes. With point totals of seven, 15, seven and now two through 12 games this year, Sacchetti has produced very little offense. He was constantly being surpassed on the depth chart by a new class of players and never really earned a chance at a top-six role. The speed and skill that got him through high school was over-matched in college and he suffered as a result.

At this juncture, it seems very unlikely that Sacchetti will be tendered an offer at the conclusion of his senior season.

Sergei Korostin , RW, Dynamo Moscow-2 (RUS-3) – 3rd round, 64th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Sergei Korostin honed his craft in Russia where he saw some time at Russia's top level and represented the Russians at the U18 World Junior Championship Tournament. In 2008, he left Russia for the NAHL's Texas Tornado where he scored 18 points in 19 games and gained a little bit of exposure in North America. He furthered that exposure by moving to the OHL's London Knights, a team that used their first import pick on him, and then was later shipped to Peterborough Petes. He represented the Russians at the international level again for the U20 World Juniors – notching a goal and an assist in seven games.

The Stars signed him and put him in the AHL where he played rather inconsistently. He put up a respectable 25 points in 63 games but was scratched throughout much of the playoffs and then, before the next season, was loaned to the VHL (second-tier Russian league) and now has played a scant amount of games on three different VHL clubs.

While he displayed good speed and somewhat effective forechecking and goal-scoring ability, the rest of Korostin's game was lacking. With his size and adverse reaction to physical play, it's unlikely he would have been able to withstand the rigors of long North American seasons.

Colton Sceviour , RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL) – 4th round, 112th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 1

Colton Sceviour polished off a successful junior career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes after being drafted by the Portland Winterhawks. He moved to the Dallas organization where he's been a productive, two-way, industrious forward. He probably had his greatest success to date under defensive coach Glen Gulutzan, where his plug-and-play versatility allowed him to fit anywhere in the lineup in any situation.

This season, under a new bench boss, he has picked up the pace considerably and is looking to break career highs offensively. He has been called up once to date and further spot duty seems likely. The Stars hope that Red Deer native will carve out a spot among their bottom six forwards in the very near future.

Austin Smith , RW, Gunnery Prep (USHS-CT) – 5th round, 128th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Drafted out of high school, Austin Smith moved to the Penticton Vees (BCHL) where he was better than a point-per-game player before moving to Colgate University in the ECAC. He had a terrific rookie season with 17 goals and 31 points in 37 games. He has been a consistent scorer and all-situation player during his time with Colgate and a top line player. This year he has exploded for 32 goals in 30 games to lead the country, his 47 points places him third in the nation. Smith leads the nation in shorthanded goals as well.

He nearly left school after his junior year but needed offseason surgery and wanted the year to recoup and graduate. He hasn't done anything to jeopardize his future professional career with the offensive exploits he has put on display this year. Smith doesn't project to be a major scorer at the next level but he looks to be a versatile utility player.

Jamie Benn, LW/C, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) – 5th round, 129th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 202

After trading a fourth round pick to the Blue Jackets for three fifth rounders, the Stars hit the jackpot with Victoria Grizzlies standout Jamie Benn. Previous regimes in Dallas favored going after multiple long-term/longshot prospects and projects later in the draft even if it was at the cost of a slightly higher pick and in this case it panned out extremely well.

Benn finished second on his BCHL junior club in goals with 42 as a rookie (behind future Toronto Maple Leaf Tyler Bozak) and moved to the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL shortly thereafter. Right off the bat, Benn's impressive scoring acumen was noticeable and he scored early and often in his rookie season before being derailed by injury. His second season showed improvement in both his scoring and his skating ability (which was in some question going into the draft) and his 46 tallies (in 56 games) placed him fifth in the WHL.

After a stellar rookie season and AHL playoffs, Jamie Benn continues to emerge as one of the league's best players. He has a point-per-game season going this year and has quickly earned respect throughout the league as a top-notch forward.

Ondrej Roman , C/LW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) – 5th round, 136th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Czech Import had a fine junior career with the Spokane Chiefs that was periodically interrupted by his muddy contract situation with HC Vitkovice in the Czech Extraliga. He was a point-per-game player in his final half season in the Dub but was only greeted with fourth line minutes when he was back in his home country. He was unable to really fit in to Texas' defensive system despite their lackluster center depth. Like a few other prospects before him that were cast aside, Roman was a scratch throughout much of the playoffs – a red flag from the organization.

Here in 2011-12, Roman again stumbled off the blocks and was relegated to fourth line duty and even sent to the ECHL for a stint. In the final and ultimate expression of disappointment, Roman was traded to the Florida Panthers organization for Angelo Esposito.

Michael Neal , LW, Belleville Bulls (OHL) – 5th round, 149th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

After an eight point season with Belleville, the Stars used their final 5th round pick on Michael Neal. The younger brother of former Star, current Penguin James Neal, was then lost for the 2007-08 season before being moved to the Sarnia Sting for most of the 2009-10 season (which netted 21 points in 63 games, both career bests). Minus a couple of stints in the AHL, the big bodied grinder has toiled about in the ECHL for Idaho ever since. He had back-to-back seasons of 15 points while playing a depth role for the Steelheads and this year sees him netting a career best 16 points in 42 games so far. It seems less than likely that he'll be tendered a qualifying offer after the season, especially considering his older brother is no longer in the organization.

Luke Gazdic , LW, Erie Otters (OHL) – 6th round, 172nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The resident enforcer of the Erie Otters garnered the attention of the Dallas Stars for their final pick in 2007. With seasons of 17 and 20 goals, Gazdic showed a nose for the net while demonstrating the ability to pulverize his challengers. He's been able to bring his truculent playing style to the American Hockey League with mixed results. His first season was clearly an adjustment period to a faster game which wasn't easy for a player that wasn't exactly blessed with blazing speed. He fit in nicely under Glen Gulutzan and was able to produce some offense in the process (nine goals and eight helpers).

This year has been a tough season for him as he has struggled to adjust to Jeff Pyle's new up-tempo system. He does have six goals and nine points through 49 games but is a team-worst minus-17. With Krys Barch out of the organization, the Stars are still hoping Gazdic can carve out a niche as at least a tough 13th forward.