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Restocking The Pond

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

June 26, 2004


RALEIGH, NC -- Doug Armstrong's track record as Dallas Stars general manager on draft day has been consistent. For the third consecutive draft, Armstrong has wheeled and dealed to net extra picks for the organization in the first three rounds not only for this year, but the 2005 draft as well.

Dallas entered the 2004 NHL Entry Draft with four picks in the first three rounds. At one point Saturday, the team had seven. By the end of the day, the Stars had selected five prospects and gained two more selections in the third round of next year's draft.

Mark Fistric
We've seemed to have read this book before. The good news for Stars fans is that it is a clear commitment to building youth in the Stars' minor league system.

All told, Armstrong has accumulated 19 top draft picks in the first three rounds over the four drafts from 2002 - 2005 (this includes four picks the Stars now have in the first three rounds next year).

"This is all about restocking the pond," Armstrong said. "We're committed to accumulating good young talent that we can grow. I think the future of this hockey team is very bright."

Draft day started with teams jockeying for position for the players they wanted. Armstrong, Assistant General Manager Les Jackson and Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Bernhardt waited patiently as the Stars' turn to select came up with the 20th overall pick. They had several good young players they wanted to take and knew that some of them would still be around after the 20th selection.

The New Jersey Devils called and wanted to move up two spots from 22 and take someone they had their eye on, offering the 22 spot along with the 88th overall pick in the third round.

Done deal. A no-brainer in Stars managements' eyes. The kids they were interested in were a good bet to still stick around. So much so that when the San Jose Sharks called about moving from 28 to 22, Armstrong saw another opportunity to get more picks and still get the players they wanted. So the Stars traded down again, this time to the 28th selection while picking up the 52nd pick and the 91st pick.

Dallas was able to use the 28th overall selection to draft one of their top targets: 6-2, 232-pound defenseman Mark Fistric.

Johan Fransson
"We were excited to draft someone with the size and strength that Mark has," Bernhardt said. "Mark is a defensive defenseman, a big strong kid. He's got an edge to him and uses his size well out there on the ice. Mark's tough to play against and we like that a lot about him. He is a good character player with not a lot of offense but he can make the first pass out of the zone."

Fistric indeed has an impressive build, with shoulders and chest that are strong and developed. He told some Stars staffers after being drafted that he sometimes has trouble finding sportcoats that fit because of his broad shoulders.

"I'm a rugged, stay at home, solid defenseman," Fistric said. "I feel like I'm a reliable defenseman who is physical, strong and hard to play against. I'm very excited to be drafted by the Dallas Stars."

The Stars then were able to also select another defenseman they were targeting in Johan Fransson from Sweden with the 34th overall selection in the second round. Fransson is an offensive-minded defenseman with good skating ability.

"Johan is a skilled defenseman who is an excellent skater," Bernhardt said. "His offensive game is what he's all about. He needs to get stronger, but again, he's only 18. We feel he has some tools that will help him become a good hockey player."

Fransson feels the biggest thing he needs to work on is building some strength and bulk to his frame.

"I'm an offensive-minded defenseman who can skate up with the puck, shoot and make good passes," Fransson said. "I want to become bigger, stronger and play tougher."

Raymond Sawada
Dallas selected right wing Raymond Sawada from Nanaimo of the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) with the 52nd overall pick. Sawada is a power forward who almost averaged one point per game last season, scoring 52 points in 54 games (20-32-52).

"Ray is a solid two-way player. He plays physical and uses a good combination of grit and skill," Bernhardt said.

Sawada admitted he enjoys getting assists almost more than scoring goals.

"I'm a power forward who leads the fore-check," Sawada said. "I like to get the puck to the guys who score goals."

Two picks later, the Stars selected 6-4, 187-pound defenseman Niklas Grossman. Like Fistric, Dallas brass liked his physical size and style of play.

"Nik is a big physical defenseman who plays to his size," Bernhardt said. "He's tough to play against, which is a trait we love in scouting these players. "

Finally, Dallas wrapped up its selections for day one of the draft by selecting left wing John Lammers from Lethbridge of the WHL. Lammers scored 21-24-45 points in 62 games last season.

"John is a skilled guy that has good offensive capabilities," Bernhardt said. "Last year he played for the Canadian Under-18 Team and will be back at Lethbridge next year. He should step up as an offensive player where he has a great up-side."

Niklas Grossman
Dallas still had two picks remaining in the second round (the 88th and the 91st), but dealt both to Washington and Vancouver, respectively, for each team's third round pick in 2005.

"We felt good about who we wanted to take with our first two picks this year," Armstrong said. "The opportunity came up to draft down and get more picks and still retain the players we wanted. Tim and Les did a great job of anticipating where they might be taken and we used that to our advantage."

Bernhardt and Jackson were equally pleased.

"Overall we're very happy with the five players we drafted today because we addressed some needs," Bernhardt said. "We needed to get some good young defenseman and we feel we got them. We drafted two of the big strong defensemen we were targeting."

The philosophy and commitment to stock the pond for the Stars will continue. Armstrong always has an eye on the future, which will become ever so important in the NHL in the coming years.

The Stars will conclude the 2004 NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, beginning at 8 AM (CST) with rounds four - nine. Dallas has the sixth pick in the fourth round (104 overall), the 183rd overall pick in the sixth round, the 218th overall pick in the seventh round, the 248th overall pick in the eighth round, and the 280th overall pick in the ninth round.

Amateur Club

Edmonton, Alberta

Vancouver, WHL


Johan Fransson
Kalix, Sweden
Lulea, SWE
Richmond, B.C.
Nanaimo, BCHL
Niklas Grossman
Stockholm, Sweden
Sodertalje Jr., SJL
John Lammers
Bowmanville, Ont.
Lethbridge, WHL


related links
Press Release: Stars Make Five Selections on Draft's First Day

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