The Dallas Stars loaded up on defenseman at the NHL Draft over the weekend, but the one forward they selected – Brett Pollock out of the Western Hockey League – shouldn’t be overlooked.
“He’s a very gifted offensive guy,” said Joe McDonnell, Stars director of amateur scouting.
The Stars took Pollock in the second round (45th overall) on Saturday, capping off what has been an eventful month-and-a-half for the 18-year-old, who won a Western Hockey League championship, the Memorial Cup and then had his named called by the Stars on day two of the draft in Philadelphia.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Pollock said shortly after being drafted. “You really can’t put it into words. Obviously, seeing everyone go through and be picked, you want to be picked as soon as you can and to be picked by Dallas, it’s a surreal feeling.”
Independent and media draft rankings had Pollock, a talented offensive winger, ranked as high as 33rd going into this year’s draft. The 6-2, 182-pound left wing, who can also play center, registered 55 points (25 goals, 30 assists) in 71 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings this past season. The Stars see a lot of offensive upside in Pollock.
“He has real good hands, and he makes real smart plays in tight down below the circles,” said McDonnell. “He was playing on a good team, obviously, but was one of the main guys creating opportunities. … He played on a good line, which helped, but I think it also helped the guys he was playing with.”
Pollock’s 55 points were a big jump from the four points (two goals, two assists) he put up in 40 games during his rookie campaign with the Oil Kings in 2012-13.
“I think I developed a lot as a player,” Pollock said. “I really came through offensively and defensively. I improved all areas of my game, I got bigger and stronger and winning a championship is something not a lot of guys get to do. I learned a lot.”
He came up big in the playoffs, leading the team in goals (11) and finishing fourth in points (19) as the Oil Kings won the WHL championship. Pollock picked up two assists in five games as Edmonton won the Memorial Cup, defeating Dallas prospect Jason Dickinson (first round pick/2013) and the Guelph Storm in the championship game.
“His game really improved the last half of the season. Anytime you’re on a winning team, it’s a great experience,” Stars GM Jim Nill said of Pollock. “I had an opportunity to go watch him play in the Memorial Cup and he played very well.”
Pollock and the Oil Kings had to overcome some adversity on their way to those championships. They rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to defeat Portland in the WHL finals. At the Memorial Cup, they lost two of their first three games and then advanced to the championship game with a triple overtime win over Val-d’Or, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions. The bumpy ride of a long playoff run was good experience for Pollock.
“You really learn how to handle adversity,” he said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in the playoffs, whether you are winning a game or you are down in a series. You learn how to stay on an even keel and how to perform on a consistent level. That playoff run really helped me grow as a player.”
The Stars would like to see Pollock, who is listed at 6-2, 182 pounds, add some size and strength moving forward. That’s par for the course with kids who are 17 and 18-years-old.
“I’ll say this about all these kids at this age, but they are all lacking strength at this stage,” said McDonnell. “If he needs to add one thing, he needs to bulk up and that’s just part of the process with him.”
As for Pollock, he see some areas for improvement as well.
“I’d like to work on my physical play,” he said. “I’m a bigger kid and I think I can use my size more to my advantage. I think that is something that comes with maturing, getting stronger and more confident.”
Pollock is expected to be in Texas in about a week when he and other Dallas prospects will attend the team’s development camp, which gets underway on July 7. For now, he’s savoring what’s been a great season and a memorable weekend in Philadelphia.
“Getting drafted was awesome. Not a lot of guys get to experience this and to be here and be selected by Dallas is amazing,” Pollock said. “It’s been a whirlwind the last couple months. I am really enjoying it.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.