The Stars took a bit of a risk Friday night.
They don't think so. They believe they got a great goalie in Jack Campbell _ the guy they were focused on all along _ and they believe he has the potential to be a franchise anchor for years to come.
But in passing up on Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley, the Stars may have spit in the face of a gift from the hockey gods. Yes, the two highly-rated defensemen did indeed fall to the Stars at the 11th spot, so teams obviously had some concerns about two players who were supposed to go in the top five. But they were both there and the Stars could have chosen either. Two of the best 18-year-old defensemen in the world were sitting there ready to help the Stars out in their biggest area of need...and the Stars passed on both.
And that is what most fans walked away thinking.
Not that Campbell might be a great player. Not that the Michigan native idolized Marty Turco and has already worked with Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley. Not that Campbell is really, really excited about being a Dallas Star. What will be seen over the years is whether or not Campbell is as good as Fowler, who went No. 12 to Anaheim, or Gormley, who went No. 13 to Phoenix, or Derek Forbort, who went No. 15 to Los Angeles. That's right, three division rivals took these defensemen, so the Stars will get a close up view for years to come.
``Our guys have loved this guy from the start and we just said if he was available at No. 11, we couldn't let him go,'' said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who trusted his scouts with the selection. ``We viewed this that after Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin (the first two picks), Jack Campbell had the best chance to be a franchise player.''
Campbell has a tremendous history. He led Team USA to the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2010. He has won at every level he has played. He has a great opportunity to play for a great Windsor team next year, and that should be the perfect next step in his development. There is so much to like about him.
Drafting kids is a tricky business. There can be trades or injuries, and there's always different stages of development.
But the Stars need defensemen so badly and they passed on Dmitry Kulikov last season only to watch the Russian defenseman play as an 18-year-old with Florida last season. They realistically have one defenseman as a prospect _ Philip Larsen _ and they have what many to consider a very shaky NHL defense.
And in today's NHL, confident puck-moving defensemen seem to be the key to everything. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook led Chicago to the Stanley Cup. Chris Pronger made Matt Carle better in Philadelphia. San Jose and Detroit build everything around their puck-moving defensemen.
Of course, none of the three available defensemen were probably going to help the Stars this season, but they might have in 2011 or 2012. As it stands now, Dallas has a very empty cupboard on defense. Could they fill it with some picks on Day 2 of the draft Saturday? Sure. But none of those guys have the pedigree of Fowler or Gormley.
Campbell has done so many wonderful things that nobody should see him as a ``bad'' pick. It's unfair to him, and unfair to the scouts who put in a year of work to find him.
But the goalie will be compared to an interesting group of defensemen for the short-term, and maybe for the rest of his career. That's how these things work.