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Stars look to add to deep prospect pool at draft

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill and his staff will head to Florida this week looking to add to the team’s prospect pool. The Stars have six picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, which will be held Friday and Saturday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

The Stars don’t expect to get any immediate help from this year’s draft, where they’ll pick 12th overall in the first round. But the hope is that they’ll land some players who can help them a few years down the road.

“I know we are going to get a good player at 12. There are going to be a lot of different options for us,” said Nill. “We go into the draft the same way every time. We need to get two or three players that end up playing. They need to develop and will be two to four years away, but we need to get two or three players that play out of this draft. And just keep drafting and developing.”

It’s a cliché, but the Stars say they’ll be targeting the best player available when they make their picks. Nill and Stars Director of Amateur Scouting Joe McDonnell don’t see any glaring holes in the prospect ranks.

“We’ve filled a lot of needs. We have a lot of good prospects coming along at both defense and forward,” said McDonnell, who is in his second season with the Stars after spending almost two decades with Nill in Detroit. “I think we are going to take the best player that we think is the best player. The talent base and the prospect pool we have, I think, is excellent.”

Added Nill: “We’ve got a lot of depth in all positions. We’ve got [Esa] Lindell and [Mattias] Backman turning pro this year. [Julius] Honka is only 19 down in the minors. [Ludwig] Bystrom is here. That’s four young guys [on defense]. Up front, you’ve got [Devin] Shore, [Jason] Dickinson and [Remi] Elie, who are three higher-end guys. [Radek] Faksa was hurt last year, and he’s only 21. We’ve got four high-end guys down there. We’ve got lots of depth that way. [Philippe] Desrosiers, a young goalie, is turning pro.”

McDonnell and the Dallas scouts have put together a list of about 180 players as they prepare for the draft. First up will be that 12th overall pick. Who might be available when the Stars get their turn at the podium is anybody’s guess. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are expected to go first and second, respectively. After that, we’ll see.

“I’d say the top three or four are going to sort of go in order. After that – you look at all these mock drafts – people have guys intermingling all over the place,” McDonnell said. “I don’t know if one of the top guys we have is going to fall to 12, but I know we are going to get a good player. We are happy about that.”

McDonnell believes the team can land a good player with their second-round pick, which is the 49th overall selection in the draft.

“Any of those guys we have 15 to 35 could drop to 49 because it is totally wide open,” McDonnell said. “It looks good. We’ll get a good pick at two as well.”

The Stars also have picks in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. Those later round picks don’t get as much attention as the first-round selection, but they are important and can yield big results. Just look at Jamie Benn (fifth round/2007) and John Klingberg (fifth round/2010).

“That’s where you make your hay,” McDonnell said. “Dallas has done a good job with the Klingbergs and Benns. Niklas Hansson (third round/2013) is coming along from Sweden. There are a lot of good kids, and that’s where you have to get your steals. That’s about going to hockey games and hopefully having a good eye and you can project that these kids are going to be good. That’s huge. There are some teams that really haven’t hit on any of those, and that’s not good. We have to try to hit on some of those players, and you can get some steals.”

Quotable: Joe McDonnell on drafting goaltenders

So, what is the strategy when it comes to selecting goaltenders in the NHL draft? That’s a good question according to Joe McDonnell, Stars Director of Amateur Scouting. Here’s what McDonnell said when asked about how he looks at drafting goaltenders.

“I have no idea,” McDonnell said with a laugh. “There are a lot of good ones this year. We took a kid in Detroit, Tom McCollum (30th overall in 2008), and he is just starting to look like he might be a goalie. They take so long. Jack Campbell (Dallas 11th overall in 2010) is another. He is starting to look like he is coming now. And those are first-round picks. Then we took a kid in Detroit, Petr Mrazek (fifth round/2010), he wasn’t a very big kid but boy was he competitive. He played (with the Red Wings) this year. I don’t know. They are so tough to figure out.

“We are not picking one at 12, I can tell you that. They are just hard to figure out and it takes a long time for them to develop. Once you do take one you just hope they have the mental capacity to develop. This year, I would say there are six that look like they are the real deal, but who knows what is going to happen.”

2015 NHL Draft

When: Friday June 26 (Round 1), 6 p.m. (CT); Saturday June 27 (Rounds 2-7), 9 a.m. (CT)

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

TV: June 26 – NBC Sports Network; June 27 – NHL Network

Dallas Stars Picks

12th overall (First round)

49th overall (Second round)

103rd overall (Fourth round)

133rd overall (Fifth round)

163rd overall (Sixth round)

193rd overall (Seventh round)

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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