DALLAS --This will be the third draft for Joe Nieuwendyk as the Dallas Stars' general manager, and he said he's learned plenty from his previous two drafts.
"First of all, you have to have a lot of trust with your scouting staff and I certainly do," he said. "We've done some good things over the years. After we built that Cup-winning team (in 1999), this franchise and this organization never really went to the bottom in order to rebuild again like a lot of teams -- Washington, Chicago, Pittsburgh -- and I think it's a credit to our scouts. They face challenges like anybody. When you're trying to maintain a level of success, you end up moving a lot of picks and prospects in order to do that."
Dallas holds the 14th pick of the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft, which begins Friday in St. Paul, Minn. In the 2010 draft, the Stars took goaltender Jack Campbell at No. 11. He appeared in 45 games for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, going 24-14-4 with a 3.80 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. In 2009, Nieuwendyk's first draft, the club selected forward Scott Glennie, who comes off a 91-point season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. Glennie also had 1 goal in six games for the Texas Stars in the 2011 AHL Playoffs.
Nieuwendyk knows there's no time like the present to restock the system with quality personnel who can contribute to the Stars in the near future.
"I think there's been a real focus to try and rebuild the stockpile and those things are really important at draft time. You have to build from within now," Nieuwendyk said. "It's hard to acquire players. It's hard to make trades. It's hard to go into free agency. When you look at the crop of free agents every year, teams realize that and they're signing their players before they get there. The drafting is very important. I've come to understand that and we work diligently to try and select the best players."
Part of the club doing its due diligence in pre-draft preparations is adhering to a mentality that is successful more often than not on draft day.
"I think the philosophy has always been to take the best player. Your needs certainly change as you go along and I think if you draft for need, you're looking for trouble," Nieuwendyk said. "The game is always evolving and I think if you take the best players that are available with your selection, it leaves you with the best opportunity to move forward."
Dallas' two biggest needs going into this year's draft look to be on the blue line and up front, where the impending departure of All-Star center Brad Richards leaves a huge void on the offensive side of things.
The Stars did address one of those needs at the 2011 trade deadline, but the club still needs some defensive depth.
"I think we addressed some of the deficiencies on the blue line last year with the trade for Alex Goligoski," said Nieuwendyk, who sent forward James Neal to Pittsburgh to acquire the blueliner. "Our defense is much more mobile now. There's needs and holes with every team and I think we filled a need last year with Alex Goligoski. But when you give up something to get something, it creates another hole somewhere else."
With the Stars currently in the midst of a three-year playoff drought, some might think the club might be more receptive to trade offers for their first pick than ever before. But according to the man who will be front and center for them at the draft, that may or may not be the case.
"We know we're going to get a good player at 14. Opportunities could present themselves where we move back or move up. Those are things we'll discuss as we lead up to the draft," Nieuwendyk said. "We'll look for pieces that help us build a championship."