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Stars' Jackson looking forward to NHL Draft

by Adam Kimelman

TORONTO -- Les Jackson has been scouting prospects for the Dallas Stars organization for 25 years, so he knows there are no guarantees when it comes to the NHL Draft.

"Nothing's for sure," he told "We've picked high and never gotten anybody. You just hope that you draft the right guy if there's a player there and you take him. You work with him, develop him, be patient with him and see what you get."

Jackson, the Stars' assistant general manager, oversees the team's amateur scouting department. This year, the Stars have two first-round picks: their own at No. 10 and the Boston Bruins' pick they acquired in the Jaromir Jagr trade (number yet to be determined).

"Anytime you can get two picks it's a good deal," Jackson said. "It's a good draft this year. We're fortunate. We got one late. We wish our first pick was late, but unfortunately it's 10. It's a deep draft, so I think teams are going to do well in the first top of the draft."

Jackson said there isn't a particular need his staff will be looking to fill. He did say there are some strong prospects at certain key positions.

"If you look in the middle, there's a lot of depth there, and there's some real good defensemen," he said. "It's a good draft from that standpoint. Generally when you're drafting, those are the hardest players to get: center-ice and defense. I think there's a good crop of guys that fit both positions."

Having two first-round picks gives the Stars some options as far as trading to move up or potentially moving back and adding assets. Jackson said the staff, including new general manager Jim Nill, has discussed all possibilities.

"There's always a lot of talk," Jackson said. "There's always a cost involved moving up. Moving back you want to protect yourself. We talk about those layers and that's how you protect yourself -- how far you go back and what do you get in return. There's lot of factors that come in when you do it. There's always talk. You try to do the best deal you can for your team. We've talked both ways. We may end up staying at 10, and if we do we're well-protected.

"I think there's enough players around that if we do our work we should do OK. There's no guarantee."

Jackson also said the work with his staff hasn't changed much since Nill replaced Joe Nieuwendyk last month. Prior to taking the GM job in Dallas, Nill was in charge of the Red Wings' amateur scouting, so the two have crossed paths numerous times over the years.

"We were together at our amateur meetings," Jackson said. "He has the same philosophy as I do. Any time you can add a guy like that, with that experience and he's such a great guy, it's a bonus for our team. He's going to bring a lot to our team.

"Here's a guy that's been around the League for a long time, that's been on one of the best teams in the NHL for the last 20 years. That's good for us."

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