I know you guys have been asking for draft information for some time, but I wanted to do some research and I wanted to time this so that it would be hitting the blog in a manner that would roll right into the draft.
So I am going to give you a draft primer today and then start counting down on prospects until I get to No. 1 on the day of the draft. I will probably do the top 40 (or 38) to include the Stars' second round pick (and create some talking points right off the bat) and then maybe do two or three a day. I'll start tomorrow morning.
So here is what we have right now. The Stars will pick 8th in the first round and 38th in the second round. They hold all of their picks except for their fourth rounder (To Tampa Bay in the Brad Richards deal) and they have no duplicate picks in any round. The actual position number of picks past the second round will be determined by the NHL when the playoffs end after adding compensatory picks for certain teams. So, six picks in seven round right now for the Stars. The draft will be held June 26-27 in Montreal.
There is a clear feeling that the top three picks in the draft are a notch above, with goal-scoring center John Tavares, towering (6-6) Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman and scrappy center Matt Duchene going off the board by the fourth pick.
There is some thought that you can then toss a blanket over the fourth through 10 players, and that all of those teams will get a decent pick. There are others who believe that centers Brayden Schenn and Evander Kane will be the next two players picked, and the scramble will start at No. 6.
The Stars will have a few interesting decisions to make. First, what role does new GM Joe Nieuwendyk play in the process? Les Jackson has done all of the homework in setting up the draft. Jackson says Tim Bernhardt (director of amateur scouting) is in charge of the selection process, and that he and Bernhardt will confer on whether it is necessary to move up or down in the draft to get the player needed.
Here's Jackson on the thought process of moving up:
``Honestly, I don't see us having what it would take to move into the top three, so my first impulse is to say we would wait and believe we'll get a pretty good player at No. 8.''
And on moving down:
``That's a bit of a dangerous game. If you like a player and that player is available where you are, I think you take him. It's really tough to predict what these teams around you are going to do.''
Because of that, Jackson, Bernhardt and the scouts are putting together their draft board and will probably follow it to a tee. As such, they will rank the players and then react to what happens in front of them.
They'll discuss the need for a specific player, but the thought right now is they'll stick to the board.
That could spark some interesting debate among the fans. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson is a left-handed left wing from Sweden who is projected to go fifth or sixth but could be available at No. 8. The Stars are stocked full with left-handed left wings, including: Brenden Morrow, James Neal, Loui Eriksson (he's playing the right side), Fabian Brunnstrom (he's playing the right side) and Jamie Benn.
So do you really want to add another left-handed left wing like Paajarvi-Svensson to that mix?
Jackson said yes you do if he's the better player.
``There are ways to work those things out,'' he said. ``I've always been a fan of getting the best player, because then you really can use those assets down the road and go out and get a player who might be an immediate fit.''
That said, he agreed when asked if picking this high (the highest the Stars have selected since 1996) allows a team to select for need.
``I think when you see a lot more kids entering the league at 18 or 19, that, sure, you can say a player selected this high has the chance to help your parent team more quickly,'' he said. ``So, if you want to make that argument, I can agree that you would be tempted more to change your philosophy and take someone who fits what you might need in your organization.''
The Stars could get both need and best player available simply because that's the way the draft falls.
On the radar as possible picks in the No. 6 to No. 10 range are defensemen: Jared Cowen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Dmitry Kulikov. Cowen is a big (6-5, 216), physical defenseman in the mold of Derian Hatcher. He's coming off of knee surgery, but the Stars do not see that as any problem in the future. Ekman-Larson is a smaller defenseman (6-0, 165) who is a great skater with good hockey sense. He is a bit of a longer term project. Kulikov is a nice mix of the two with decent size (6-1, 195) and good skill. He is not seen as a Sergei Zubov type, but he could be a very good all-around defenseman for years to come.
The Stars also like players such as D Ryan Ellis (5-10, 173) and RW Jordan Schroeder (5-8, 168), but the size of both pushes them down to the teens on most boards. Ellis is a fantastic power play QB who helped lead Windsor to the Memorial Cup championship. Schroeder had 13 goals and 32 assists in 35 games in his freshman year at the University of Minnesota.
While it's nice to talk about Ellis and Schroeder, I think the Stars will stay where they are and end up with one of the defensemen. I think they will put their board together and wait for the best guy to fall, and my guess is it's one of the D-men.
I still think they need to make a trade for a top-level defenseman for next season, but I don't think the No. 8 pick will be a part of that deal. I think they take care of the draft, collect their assets, and then start studying defensemen later in the summer. They might even wait to see if there is a free agent bargain out there before they consider making a trade.
That said, with Nieuwendyk in charge and Sergei Zubov possibly able to return next season, maybe they just wait things out.
So there is what I have right now. Don't ask the Stars to reveal their board or which defenseman they like better. They're not going to do it, but I'm open for other questions.