Friday, June 19, 2009

Stars Pick at #8 needs to Count

nhl-draft1With today being the last day before vacation, I wanted to cover something that might go uncovered in these parts if I don't do it....the NHL Draft from a Stars perspective.

I know that this post may not be for everyone, but if you follow the Stars at all, you know a few things about the local hockey team.

1) - The Stars have not had a draft pick in the Top 10 of the draft since 1996 (Richard Jackman, 5th, major bust).

2) - Well over half of the NHL's Superstars are taken in the Top 10 of the draft; many in the Top 3 of the draft.

3) - The Stars have rebuilt a very strong, young group of talent that is emerging. A solid pick here could only aid in that building of the future.

With those three truths in front of us, we may surmise that this is a big night for the Stars next Friday. I am about to share with you some names, and while most of them might be the first time you have ever heard those names, know that this could be that special player that the Stars need to carry them for the next decade. Special players don't generally fall to #24 where the Stars often pick. If you are going to have a bad year, at least take advantage of the bad year by making the most of the nice pick you get as a reward for your bad year.

Overall, the experts have indicated that this is a reasonably strong draft this year, with a lot of top-end talent available at the top of the 1st round. In talking with some insiders, it seems that there are three tiers in the first round amongst the elite: One tier is made up at the very top with John Tavares and Victor Hedman. Both players are considered "franchise players" and the Islanders and Lightning are going to be quite pleased.

The next tier is made up of 5 players according to those I speak to, which means the Stars, with the #8 pick, will not get a shot at one of the "top 7" if everyone in front of them feels the same way.

The players in that 2nd tier would be C Evander Kane, C Matt Duchene, C Brayden Schenn, D Jared Cowen, and D Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Basically, I have come to believe that if any of those above names are on the board when the Dallas Stars pick at #8, they will be very, very pleased and run up to the podium in a flash.

But, what if none of those names are left? Then what do the Stars do? Well, they can choose from the 3rd tier. Let's be clear here, the 3rd tier in this draft (Players 8-15) are also thought of as potentially "special players". Obviously, they aren't quite as shiny as the 2nd tier, but if you get it right, there is a good chance you will be very pleased. This drafting business is hardly an exact science, and I am not sure that there has ever been a draft that the "experts" evaluated properly from the start.

Regardless, the 3rd tier includes LW Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (who is in the top 5 of many mock drafts), C Nazem Kadri, D Dmitri Kulikov, RW Jordan Schroeder, D Ryan Ellis, RW Zack Kassian, RW Scott Glennie, and then, perhaps, C Jacob Josefson (although it does get murky there).

So, the Stars have to consider a few things. At #8, you likely have to ignore your team's needs and take the best player available. The fact is, that in hockey, you can always use more great players - regardless of where they play on the ice. If they are great, you pick them.

Of course, the Stars do have needs at defense and center. I had not considered the lack of centers in the organization, but once you get by Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro the Stars don't have much at center beyond the young Swede Tom Wandell.

On the blueline, the Stars are plenty young, but they still lack a true #1 defenseman, so if Jared Cowen slides, I believe that is the pick I would love to endorse the most. But, despite the fact that he is still on the mend from an ACL blowout this season, I think he is still going to be gone at about #5 or #6 in the draft.

Cowen profile

At center, I am pretty sure they like Nazem Kadri at #8 (assuming neither Schenn or Duchene fall in their laps).

Here is a profile on Kadri for you to look at. As you can see, he oozes talent:

If they trade back, I wanted you to get familiar with 2 guys who I like, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan Ellis. Schroeder is being told he is too small, but his talent is amazing. And since we have watched guys who are too small do well in the NHL for years, I would not hesitate to grab him with a pick around #11 or #12.

And D Ryan Ellis, who is tough to see at 5'10, 170 on the blueline, but he can QB the PP:

The Draft will be carried next Friday, June 26 at 6pm on NHL Network and Versus. The Stars need to make this #8 pick count, and if you want to see videos of any of the other prospects, youtube is loaded with them. Enjoy.

Dallas draft Primer ...

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