The Dallas Stars went with size and skill with their first-round pick at Friday night’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, selecting 6-5, 205-pound left wing Riley Tufte. The 18-year-old played both high school hockey in Minnesota and juniors in the United States Hockey League in 2015-16.
“He’s 6-5, and an elite skater with skill,” said Joe McDonnell, Stars Director of Amateur Scouting.
The Stars selected Tufte with the 25th overall pick. NHL Central Scouting had him ranked 17th among North American skaters. Red Line Report, an independent scouting service, had him ranked 15th among all draft prospects. Other rankings had him going in the early 20’s.
“He’s a guy we had ranked right where we picked him,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “We like his upside. He has good size and has good skill.”
And Tufte was Mr. Hockey as the top senior high school player in Minnesota after racking up 78 points (47 goals, 31 assists) in 25 games for Blaine High School.
“He’s an elite prospect,” said McDonnell.
Tufte also played 27 games with Fargo in the USHL, tallying 14 points (ten goals, four assists). Tufte has played internationally, representing the USA at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2014 World Hockey Challenge. He is set to play college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth in the fall.
“That will give us a little time with him,” said McDonnell. “He needs to fill out obviously, but with a kid at that age and who is 6-5, we are pretty comfortable. And once he gets bigger and stronger he will be a horse.”
While the Stars may take their time with Tufte, the wait to be drafted Friday night was nerve-wracking for the young forward. But having his name called by Dallas coach Lindy Ruff ended all that.
“It definitely relieved some stress,” Tufte said. “I am just so excited to be a part of a great organization like Dallas.”
Tufte brought a big contingent with him to share in the draft experience.
“I have 25 people here,” he said. “Grandparents, both my parents, brother and sister and my girlfriend is here as well. Just a bunch of people.”
Tufte will spend some time in Texas early in July when he attends the Stars development camp with other Dallas prospects.
“I am looking forward to that,” he said.
The draft continues Saturday with the Stars scheduled to have five more selections. Here are Saturday’s picks:
90th overall (Third round)
116th overall (Fourth round)
128th overall (Fifth round)
146th overall (Fifth round)
176th overall (Sixth round)