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Stars Stay Defensive on Day Two of Draft

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After taking defenseman Julius Honka in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night, the Dallas Stars continued to stockpile defensemen in Saturday’s portion of the draft, using six of their eight selections on defensemen.

“It’s just the way it worked out,” said Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell. “We didn’t lean that way. Throughout the whole draft we wanted to take the best player available and every time it came to our pick it ended up being a defenseman.”

Over the two days of the draft in Philadelphia, the Stars used seven of their nine picks on defensemen, adding some blue liners with offensive upside in Honka, Michael Prapavessis and John Nyberg and bringing others into the system who lean towards the defensive side of the game in Alex Peters, Miro Karjalainen, Aaron Haydon and Patrick Sanvido. Three of the seven – Honka, Karjalainen, Haydon – are much needed right-shots.

“It’s just kind of the way the draft unfolded,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “Every time we came to our pick, there was a defenseman there we liked. We wanted to add some defense. A couple are right-handed-shot defensemen, which we needed to add to our organization. They either had high-end skill, the guys we drafted, or they had some great size to go with their skill. So we’re excited. In today’s NHL, you can never have enough defensemen.”

Although the Stars loaded up on defense Saturday, they used their first pick of the day (second round, 45th overall) on left wing Brett Pollock from Edmonton of the Western Hockey League. Pollock, a talented offensive player who can play center and wing, registered 55 points (25 goals, 30 assists) in 71 games with Edmonton of the Western Hockey League. He led Edmonton in goal scoring during the playoffs, registering 11 in 19 games as the Oil Kings won the WHL championship. He also picked up two assists in five games as Edmonton won the Memorial Cup.

“His game really improved the last half of the season,” said Nill. “Anytime you’re on a winning team, it’s a great experience. I had an opportunity to go watch him play in the Memorial Cup and he played very well. He plays center ice. He plays wing. He puts up good points, so we’re excited about his potential.”

Pollock was projected to go in the second round and had interviewed with the Stars, but didn’t have any idea they would call out his name with the 45th overall pick on Saturday.

“It’s a surreal feeling. Not a lot of guys get to experience this and to be here and be selected by Dallas is amazing,” Pollock said.

The Stars also added to the goaltending ranks, drafting Brent Moran out of the Ontario Hockey League in the fourth round. The 17-year-old was ranked third among North American goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting.

“It was a dream come true,” Moran said of being selected by the Stars. “Sitting there is a little stressful, and you get nervous, but overall it is something I’ve wanted since I was a little boy and to hear my name called was a huge honor.”

Here’s a look at the eight players Dallas selected on day two of the NHL Draft in Philadelphia.

Brett Pollock, Left Wing (Second Round, 45th Overall)

The 6-2, 182-pound left wing, who also can play center, registered 55 points (25 goals, 30 assists) in 71 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League in 2013-14. He led the team with 11 goals in 19 playoff games during the run to WHL championship. He also registered two assists in five games as the Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup. The 18-year-old Pollock is a left shot who played defense as a younger player.

Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell: “Brett Pollock has a high offensive upside. He has real good hands, makes real smart plays in tight down below the circles. I’ll say this about all these kids at this age, but they are all lacking strength at this stage. If he needs to add one thing, he needs to bulk up and that’s just part of the process with him.”

Alexander Peters, Defenseman (Third Round, 75th Overall)

The 6-4, 205-pound Peters is a stay-at-home defenseman who registered 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 50 games with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. Peters, a left shot, picked up 12 assists and a plus-nine rating in 58 games as a rookie with Plymouth in 2012-13. His brother, Justin, has been a goaltender with the Carolina Hurricanes the past five seasons.

Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell: “He’s one of the guys I could say doesn’t need to bulk up too much. He’s a fitness fanatic. He’s a big kid already. He moves really well. He can make the simple play, and what he has to do now is start working on his overall puck skill game. He has no problem with that other than maybe a little bit fancier type thing. He’s very capable of making that first outlet pass.”

Michael Prapavessis, Defenseman (Fourth Round, 105th Overall)

Prapavessis led all Ontario Junior Hockey League defensemen in scoring with 55 points (5 goals, 50 assists) in 47 games with Toronto Lakeshore. The 18-year-old won several OJHL awards including Best Defenseman, First All-Star Team and Most Gentlemanly Player. Prapavessis, who is listed at 6-1, 173 pounds and is a left shot, has committed to play college hockey at RPI.

Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell: “He ran the power play on his Tier 2 team and the thing we really liked about him is not only his offensive upside, but we’ve got four years of college with him. He’s going to go and develop, get bigger and stronger and get a lot of practice time. We see a real good upside with him.”

Brent Moran, Goaltender (Fourth Round, 115th Overall)

The 17-year-old netminder posted a 14-19-2-2 record, 3.85 goals against average and .891 save percentage with Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League. He posted a 3-4 record in the playoffs, ranking sixth in the league in goals against average (2.86) and third in save percentage (.921). He was a member of Canada’s bronze medal team at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship.

Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell: “He sort of took the ball and ran with it in Niagara. He’s a big kid, he’s just kind of got to grow into his body. He carried the Niagara team into the playoffs and was the single reason why they were competitive.”

Miro Karjalainen, Defenseman (Fifth Round, 135th Overall)

The 6-5, 205-pound Karjalainen registered 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 38 games with Jokerit in Finland’s Under-18 junior league. The 18-year-old Karjalainen, who is a right-shot, added 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 11 playoff games. He’s expected to play in the Under-20 league in Finland next season. Was a highly regarded swimming prospect until deciding to switch his focus to hockey at 13-years-old.

Stars director of European scouting Kari Takko: “You can see that the size is there. This guy is mean, he is big and there is something special there. If he turns out to be a player, he is going to be a good shutdown defenseman. He has a good shot. The coordination is still a little off because of the size and he is just learning to train. What we liked most about him is the heart and the willingness to play for the team.”

Aaron Haydon, Defenseman (Sixth Round, 154th Overall)

The 6-2, 185 pound Haydon registered 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 61 games for Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League. The 18-year-old Haydon, who is a right-shot, had no points in seven playoff games. The Plymouth, Michigan native played for the United States at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, registering no points in five games. Haydon has an uncle who lives in Dallas.

Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell: “He’s a big, strong, physical guy that skates pretty well. He is a simple player. He’s not an offensive threat by any means, but he is going to make you pay in your own end. He’s got to fill out and get stronger, but he’s just got that attitude that he doesn’t like people standing alone in his own end. He’s going to make sure they know that he is there.”

John Nyberg, Defenseman (Sixth Round, 165th Overall)

The 17-year-old Nyberg played for Frolunda at both the Under-18 and Under-20 levels of Swedish junior hockey last season. He registered 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 17 games at the Under-18 level and 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 19 games during Under-20 play. Nyberg, who is a left shot, is listed at 6-2, 180 pounds.

Stars amateur scout Rickard Oquist: “He’s a two-way defenseman. He has some offensive tools, can move the puck, good first pass and has a bomb for a shot. He’s pretty good on the power play and has put up decent points in the Under-18 league this year. Really excited about him.”

Patrick Sanvido, Defenseman (Seventh Round, 195th Overall)

The 6-5, 218-pound Sanvido played for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, registering 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 64 games. The 18-year-old had no points in four playoff games. Switched to defense from forward when he was 12-years-old.

Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell: “For his size he moves really well. He’s not an offensive threat at all, but he is going to be hard to play against. He has the wing span of, you know, big. He’s just going to be a guy that is tough to play against. We really loved his size and skating. He’s a real character kid.”

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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