Stars 2006 draft review

By Martin Christ

The Dallas Stars had a franchise-low five draft choices in the 2006 Entry Draft. They surrendered their second round pick when they acquired Janne Niinimaa from the New York Islanders and gave up their sixth round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Nathan Perrott deal. With five choices the Stars were able to add depth at forward, drafting a center and two wings. They also added a goalie, and an offensive defenseman. Dallas Stars’ General Manager Doug Armstrong decided against making any deals to move up in the draft though the Stars, a victim of success, have not had a top ten draft choice since 1996 when they drafted Richard Jackman fifth overall.

Ivan Vishnevskiy, D — Rouyn Noranda Huskies, QMJHL

1st Round (27th overall), 5’11, 176 lbs

Stars management stated they were drafting purely for the best available talent regardless of position when they made Ivan Vishnevskiy their first round selection. Vishnevskiy, described as a potential power play quarterback, is also a risk taker with glaring defensive liabilities. A fast and effortless skater, Vishnevskiy has been compared to Sandis Ozolinsh, Sergei Gonchar and Phil Housley, or more pertinently, to long-time Dallas Star Sergei Zubov. It may come about that Vishnevskiy will be threading long tape-to-tape passes and leading the power play a few years hence when Zubov’s stellar career is likely to be done.

Vishnevskiy has played in both the Russian and Quebec junior leagues and said at the draft that the QMJHL is a much better league with a greater emphasis on defensive play. Certainly in Russia he was all offense, where his 39 goals and 71 points with Togliatti of the Russian junior league in 2004-05 led Rouyn Noranda to draft him 68th overall in the CHL import draft. His 13 goals and 48 points for the Huskies in 2005-06 made him easily the highest scoring rookie defenseman in the league and he was voted to the QMJHL all-rookie team.

Surprisingly, Vishnevskiy was not chosen to the Russian World Junior team. He did get some exposure in the CHL prospects game helping Team Orr to a 7-2 victory though he did not hit the score sheet.

It is clear that Vishnevskiy has adapted very well to North American culture and has a strong desire to improve his defensive play and make the NHL. If he does learn the defensive side of the game the Stars may eventually have an adequate replacement for Zubov with this late first round pick. As for the present, Ivan Vishnevskiy should be one of the most entertaining performers in the QMJHL in 2006-07.

Aaron Snow, LW – Brampton Battalion, OHL

3rd Round (90th overall), 6’0, 199 lbs

It must have been fate that Aaron Snow would be a Dallas Star. A few years back Snow was with the Tecumseh (Ontario) Chiefs and was invited by his coach to Westland, Michigan for the opening of the Mike Modano Arena. Mike Modano was there himself, and offered a few words of encouragement to the young Windsor, Ontario native. Unquestionably, at the time, neither
Snow nor Modano ever thought they would be teammates, but it came true when the
Stars made Snow a third round selection.

Even with Modano’s encouragement, Aaron Snow was not even on the prospect radar after his eight-goal 15-point rookie season with Brampton and his slow start to the 2005-06 season (six goals in his first 25 games). At the 2005 Christmas break, Brampton head coach Stan Butler reasoned that Snow’s quickness made him a good fit for the top line and combined him with
flashy Colorado Avalanche prospect Wojtek Wolski and overage New York Islander
hopeful Luch Aquino. The line was an offensive explosion and Snow benefited by scoring 20 goals and 45 points in the last half of the season. His Central Scouting rank jumped from 128th in mid January (among North American skaters) to 79th by season’s end.

There is a question of whether Snow was being carried by Wolski and Aquino but the flipside is that Snow proved he can play with quality players. He has been used on the power play and penalty killing units (four shorthanded goals, 11 on the power play) and is not afraid of the heavy hitting. The Stars will be watching his progress closely in his upcoming third season with the Brampton Battalion and, perhaps in a few years, Snow will line up with Modano.

Richard Bachman, G – Cushing Academy/ Boston Jr. Bruins

4th Round (120th overall), 5’11, 160 lbs

This year’s draft was considered strong for goaltenders and Dallas picked up Richard Bachman with their fourth-round choice. The Bachman selection was somewhat surprising because he was ranked 26th among North American goaltenders but was the 15th goaltender chosen overall. If his 2.06 average and .931 save percentage with the Cushing Academy Penguins was not
enough to convince former NHL goaltender Tim Bernhardt and other Dallas scouts of
his abilities, his appearance at the 18 and under U.S. national championships must have put him over the top. He had a .936 save percentage at the nationals and stopped 33 shots in the Boston Junior Bruins 2-1 overtime championship victory over the Chicago Chill.

Bachman’s future is already mapped out for several seasons. He was the first choice of the USHL’s Chicago Steel and will be their No. 1 goalie for the 2006-07 season. The Steel are pleased to have Bachman’s caliber of goaltending and, after experimenting with six goalies this past season, are expecting Bachman to be crucial in helping them move up the standings.
The 2007-08 season will see Bachman closer to his native Salt Lake City when he will tend goal for Colorado College. With this type of competition in Bachman’s future he will be well prepared for a shot at a Dallas Star goalkeeping position a few years from now.

David McIntyre, C – Newmarket Hurricanes, OPJHL

5th Round (138th overall), 6`0, 180 lbs

The Dallas Stars further addressed the organization’s need for forwards by drafting center David McIntyre in the fifth round. It was a happening that late-blooming McIntyre once thought would never happen.

He was overlooked by all OHL teams in 2004 and opted for the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League and the Newmarket Hurricanes. His 17 goals in the 2004-05 season was not good enough to gain scouts’ interest in his first year of NHL draft eligibility. In November of 2005, he received a scholarship to play at Colgate University, his focus being his education as much as his hockey. McIntyre then went about being a dominant player in the OPJHL, leading his team with 42 goals and 92 points in 46 games. At the midseason all-star game he recorded an impressive 14.75 lap in the fastest skater competition, proving he has big league speed. The Pefferlaw,
Ontario native’s Central Scouting rank jumped from 114th to 88th during the course of the season. He finished the year with a point per game average in two rounds of playoff action and awaited the NHL draft.

It seemed certain that this time McIntyre would not be overlooked. On draft day he played a round of golf and then joined two other draft eligible friends (Harrison Reed and James DeLory) to watch the draft by computer. By the fourth round McIntyre was yet to be drafted, though he had already congratulated his two friends on their success. Then came the fifth round and McIntyre was relieved to finally be a draft pick for the first time in his hockey life in the draft that matters most.

McIntyre’s combination of strong skating, edgy play, and scoring ability should lead Colgate coach Don Vaughn to give him plenty of ice time and make use of him in all special team situations during the 2006-07 season. A few seasons of college hockey is likely the best thing for McIntyre judging by the career of the only other Newmarket Hurricane to be drafted, Max
Birbraer (by New Jersey in 2000). Birbraer scored 50 goals in the OPJHL and then
went straight to Albany of the AHL, a step that turned out to be too much for him.

With continued hard work McIntyre may evolve into a third or fourth line grinder in the NHL once his Colgate college days are done.

Max Warn, LW – IFK Helsinki Jr.

5th Round (150th overall), 6’2, 194 lbs

With their last choice in the draft the Stars turned to Finland and drafted steady, unspectacular Max Warn. Warn has shown leadership skills despite his youth and may have flown under the radar after an injury-plagued season. He still scored three goals and 13 points in 24 games for the IFK Helsinki juniors. He was a solid contributor to Finland’s under-18 World Championship team in 2006. He was scoreless in his first four games of Finnish major junior during the 2004-05 season but this promotion allowed him to play on the same team as his brother Jon (three years older and never drafted).

Warn is not likely ever to develop a scoring touch but his physical presence and checking ability could make him a utility player and solid penalty killer. He is an above average skater with a straight up and down the wing style and does not shy away from battles for the puck. Most of all he is about defensive skills, so much so that IFK has used him on defense at times. Warn should be one of the most reliable forwards for the IFK Helsinki juniors in the upcoming season.

Pekka Lampinen and Dustin Nielson contributed to this article. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.