Dallas Stars’ 2008 draft class yielded defenseman Philip Larsen, little else

By Mike Farkas

Philip Larsen - Dallas Stars

Photo: Danish blueliner Philip Larsen has earned a full-time spot in Dallas this season after several years of pro experience in the SEL and AHL. (courtesy of Tony Ding/Icon SMI)

The Dallas Stars were just as much of a spectator to the first round hoopla in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft as anyone else in attendance at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. The Stars had stuck their 2008 first round pick into a mass of humanity that was a 2007 trade deadline deal with Los Angeles.

Dallas received rugged defenseman Mattias Norstrom in the deal as well as Konstantin Pushkarev, a 2007 third round pick, and 2007 fourth round pick in exchange for the aforementioned first round selection, a 2007 second round pick, a 2007 third round pick, depth defenseman Jaroslav Modry, and prospect Johan Fransson.

The Stars' 28th selection was shuttled around before ending up in Phoenix’s hands (Viktor Tikhonov).

Additionally, the Stars lost their fourth round selection back in the summer of 2006 to Tampa Bay for Darryl Sydor. They indirectly gained three spots in the sixth round, but otherwise used all of their original remaining selections to come away with five players in the haul. Of which, they netted one surefire NHL player.

Tyler Beskorowany, G, Owen Sound Attack (OHL) – 2nd round, 59th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Stars' first selection in the 2008 NHL Draft did not take place until 59th overall, where they selected gargantuan goaltender Tyler Beskorowany from the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. To date, it was only the second time the Stars had used their first selection in a draft on a goaltender since moving to Dallas (Jason Bacashihua, 2001).

Beskorowany had a forgettable junior career that saw him play for teams that were not well versed in defensive structure. Both Owen Sound and later Kingston proved to be cannon fodder for the elite of the Ontario Hockey League and it was not uncommon for Beskorowany to face in upwards of 40 shots per night. In fact, he faced an average of nearly 36 shots per game for his junior career.

The big, puck-playing netminder moved on to the pro game and was an all-star at the ECHL level as a rookie with Idaho. The next season, he moved up to a full-time position with Texas of the American Hockey League but was tormented on a team that played fast and loose and he was shelled for 100 goals in 33 contests. Though, he was not alone. Jack Campbell, Richard Bachman, and Andrew Raycroft all had goals against averages north of three that season.

In 2012-13, Beskorowany is splitting time back at the ECHL level with an undrafted, unsigned rookie from Michigan Tech named Josh Robinson. While he is performing fine in the Double-A league, it does not appear as if GM Joe Nieuwendyk or the organization has a lot hope for him. Since being drafted in 2008, the Stars have used a first round pick on a goaltender (Campbell), traded a former first round pick for a former first round pick goaltender (Kari Lehtonen), and signed and promoted both Bachman and Cristopher Nilstorp. Meanwhile, Beskorowany has yet to see an AHL puck this season.

The Ontario-born goalie with the quick glove is on the last year of his entry-level deal and will need to provide the Stars a reason to qualify him.

Scott Winkler, C/RW, Russell Stover (Midget) – 3rd round, 89th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Scott Winkler, a four-year man at Colorado College, is having a very good senior season in the WCHA. Plagued by injury and mishap, Winkler scored just 11 goals in his first three collegiate seasons combined. This season (and some of last), he has seen time on the wing in a top-six role and has flourished. His 12 goals are a career benchmark, while his 23 points put him right up there with last year’s production.

The Norwegian forward was selected out of the Russell Stover program in Kansas City, and then he moved to Cedar Rapids of the USHL before going the distance at Colorado College.

He is getting on a roll at the right time and is developing confidence in his ability at both ends of the ice. He seems like more of a utility player at this point in the developmental arc, playing at all three forward positions and being used in all situations. It remains to be seen if the Stars will deem him worthy of an entry-level contract, but given some of the organizational depth signings they have made at forward in recent years, it would seem as if Winkler has a better-than-average shot at one.

Philip Larsen, D, Vastra Frolunda (SEL) – 5th round, 149th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 69

After drafting a Norwegian in the third round, the Stars pressed the fringes of the hockey map by selecting Danish defenseman Philip Larsen out of the Swedish Elite League. Larsen probably would have gone higher had he not had a checkered injury history leading up to his draft year. Though he was razor thin when he was drafted, Larsen showed a lot of puck poise and potential and the Stars gravitated to him as a result.

After two successful seasons in the Elitserien after his draft year, Larsen made the jump to Texas where he learned the game at the AHL level before becoming a semi-regular Dallas Star in 2011-12. This season, Larsen figures to play in most of Dallas’ games as the club could use his vision and passing ability to pioneer the breakout.

Larsen has adapted very well to the North American game and looks to be getting better on both sides of the puck with every game. The Stars are expected to continue their transition in handing the team over to its youth and Larsen will be a fixture on the blue line for years to come. As it stands now, Larsen is likely the only pearl the Stars plucked out of their 2008 draft class.

Matt Tassone, C, Swift Current Broncos (WHL) – 6th round, 176th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

It looked like another late-round WHL gem for the Stars with hard-nosed centerman Matt Tassone. After his draft year, Tassone eclipsed the century mark in penalty minutes while being one of the better goal scorers in the league with 36 markers in 52 games. Unfortunately, Tassone was derailed by injury and was not signed by the Stars after the expiry of his exclusive rights.

They did not send him out to pasture though. As he completed his rehab, the Stars invited him to their development camp and signed him to an AHL contract that saw him play in Idaho (ECHL). The Stars elected not to further pursue him and he has bounced around a bit in the minors. He started the lockout-lessened season with the Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League but has since been promoted to the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL.

Tassone plays a rugged brand of hockey and has a nose for the net. He is a physical player that prides himself on playing with an intense edge. The Stars essentially replaced the fallen draft pick with the signing of Matt Fraser out of Kootenay (WHL) and the organization has not missed a beat.

Mike Bergin, D, Smiths Falls Bears (CJHL) – 7th round, 209th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

With the final selection in 2008, the Stars selected a hulking defenseman out of the CJHL’s Smiths Falls Bears. The Bears are not a Major Junior program and as a result, this preserved Bergin’s NCAA eligibility of which he took full advantage. Bergin spent four seasons at RPI, serving as their captain in the final season.

Bergin is a physical, defensive-minded defenseman that can move the puck well. However, he was not signed by Dallas and, instead, signed in the Allsvenskan (second-tier Sweden) with Sodertalje. He provides a good defensive presence and despite his lack of scoring, he is a plus-11 (second among club defensemen) and his team has given up some of the fewest goals in the league.