2011 NHL Draft: Dallas Stars bet on size and found some players

By Sean Shapiro
Jamie Oleksiak - Dallas Stars

Photo: Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak split his time between the NHL and AHL in 2015-16, appearing in just 19 games for Dallas and eight games for the Texas Stars (courtesy of Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)



The Dallas Stars went to St. Paul, Minnesota looking at physical tools and going after players with size in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Dallas drafted a pair of tall defensemen (Jamie Oleksiak and Troy Vance) that each topped 6’5″, while they also loaded up on a pair of power forwards in Brett Ritchie and Matej Stransky.

Of those four picks, two are on track to pan out as NHL players for the Stars, while a late-round pick on the difficult-to-pronounce Jyrki Jokipakka later became a trade asset. These successes turned the 2011 draft into a relative success for the Stars.

1st round, 14th overall: Jamie Oleksiak, D, Northeastern University (Hockey East)
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 78

Jamie Oleksiak was already a behemoth of a human being when Dallas drafted him with the 14th overall pick in 2011, and he has only grown into his 6’7″ frame in the past five years.  

After one year of collegiate hockey, Oleksiak split the next season between the Saginaw Spirit and Niagara IceDogs in the OHL before making his professional debut for the Texas Stars during the 2012-13 season.

Oleksiak spent the next three seasons primarily as a member of the Texas Stars and won a Calder Cup in 2014, while he also played 59 NHL games during that span. This season, Oleksiak was a full-time member of the Dallas Stars, but only appeared in 19 games and was a healthy scratch most of the season.

Oleksiak won’t be in a similar spot next season. The Stars will have to make a decision on the 23-year-old and decide whether they want to make space for him among their everyday defensemen or move him for other assets.

2nd round, 44th overall: Brett Ritchie, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Status: Prospect
NHL Games: 39

Dallas drafted Brett Ritchie with visions of a big, physical power forward that could be a menace on the power play – and he delivered in the years following his draft selection.

Ritchie was traded to the Niagara IceDogs for his final two seasons in the OHL and had 106 points in 83 games with Niagara. He turned pro late in the 2012-13 season and was a reliable rookie for the Texas Stars when they won the Calder Cup during the 2013-14 season.

That set the stage for Ritchie to split the 2014-15 season between the NHL and AHL, while he was expected to start this past season on the NHL roster. However, a preseason wrist injury derailed his NHL opportunity and he only appeared in eight NHL games after suffering another injury later in the season.

While injuries have been frustrating, Ritchie has been effective when healthy for Dallas. Barring another setback, he will be a full-time NHL player next season.

4th round, 105th overall: Emil Molin, LW, Brynas Jrs (Sweden)
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Emil Molin was a point-per-game player in the Swedish Under-18 league when Dallas took him with a fourth round pick back in 2011. The left winger than spent four average seasons in Europe before coming over to North America before this past season.

In this past season, Molin spent the majority of his time in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads and was named the Team MVP after registering 46 points in 54 games. He also appeared in 11 AHL games with the Texas Stars, but didn’t have much of an impact. 
Molin is still a work in progress, but it is unlikely that he will play an NHL game in his career. He is headed back to Sweden to help MODO, which was relegated to the Allsvenskan this past season.

5th round, 135th overall: Troy Vance, D, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Troy Vance was an American player that went the major junior route and showed promise with the Victoriaville Tigres before Dallas selected him in the fifth round. He earned an entry-level deal after his 25-point, 2011-12 season and spent two more seasons in the QMJHL, turning pro after the 2013-14 season.

And then Vance never really caught on in the Dallas organization. He spent time with three different ECHL teams between the end of 2014 and 2015 before he left for Europe and signed with Assat Pori in the Finnish Liiga for this past season.

6th round, 165th overall: Matej Stransky, RW, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Status: Prospect
NHL Games: 0

The Czech winger Matej Stransky was a low-risk, potentially high-reward selection for Dallas in the sixth round after he had 26 points for the Saskatoon Blades during the 2010-11 season.

Stransky then had two successful seasons in Saskatoon before turning pro and joining the Texas Stars during the 2013-14 season. Stransky struggled to find his game in his first two seasons and was limited to a bottom-six role.

This season, Stransky took major strides after being a healthy scratch on opening night and set a career high with 23 goals. He is still a long-shot, but has opened the window to get a handful of NHL games in his career as a call-up.

7th round, 195th overall: Jyrki Jokipakka, D, Ilves Tampere (SM-Liiga)
Status: NHL player (Calgary Flames)
NHL games: 109

When Dallas selected Jyrki Jokipakka in the seventh round, they were taking a flier on a little-known Finnish player with a unique name, and Jokipakka panned out for the Stars.

Jokipakka spent the next two seasons in Finland before making the jump to North America where he established himself as a reliable AHL defender and made the NHL roster on a full-time basis during the 2014-15 season.

Jokipakka appeared in 40 games with Dallas this past season before he was traded to Calgary along with Brett Pollock and a conditional second round pick in exchange for Kris Russell.

Hockey’s Future looks back at the 2011 NHL Draft of the Dallas Stars in the video below, which features footage of top pick Jamie Oleksiak from the 2011 NHL Combine.

Prospect of the Month

Big defenseman Chris Martenet was on the national stage as the London Knights advanced to – and won – the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup after Chris Martenet - London Knightswinning the OHL title with a series sweep against the Niagara IceDogs.

Martenet didn’t record any points in the OHL playoffs, but he was a solid shutdown defender that often drew difficult assignments. In the OHL finals Martenet’s team defeated fellow Dallas prospect Aaron Haydon, who had four points in 17 postseason games. Although the team accolades for Martenet are definite points of pride, of more importance to his career is the entry-level deal he signed on May 18th. Much like the defensemen from the 2011 Draft, Martenet will take some time to arrive as a legitimate NHL prospect, but he took important steps toward that goal this season.

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter via @seanshapiro