It’s that time of the year ladies and gentlemen! The annual Fansided Mock Draft is in full swing, as the writers from each team site and the overall hockey site Too Many Men On The Site are playing GM for their favorite teams. Last summer in the draft, I used the Stars’ 14th overall selection to went with Nathan Beaulieu, a puck moving defenseman that eventually went 17th to Montreal. Just for your info, Jamie Oleksiak was taken 11th overall in last summer’s mock draft by Colorado as defensemen became popular after the top 10 picks.
This summer the strength of defensemen in draft could play into the Stars’ hand. While the Stars could definitely still use another high-end defensive prospect, the do have a couple of youngsters that are coming along with Oleksiak and Philip Larsen leading the way while Patrik Nemeth and Brenden Dillion looking like they could contest for time in the future. So while many teams will be looking at blueliners and quite a few could be take in the top 10-15 picks, the Stars should be looking to address another need and take a defenseman with one of their two 2nd round picks.
The Stars have a noticeable lack of center depth, throughout the organization. Not just at the NHL level, but all the way to the bottom. Blossoming face of the franchise Jamie Benn has been forced to play center, the Stars have had to slid Steve Ott to center a lot over the last couple of years, and now Mike Ribeiro is entering the final year of his contract (with there being a good chance that he might be wearing a new sweater next summer). So…..
With the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, the Dallas Stars select:
Gaunce was the 2nd overall pick by the Belleville Bulls in 2010 behind fellow 2012 draft prospect Alex Galchenyuk (who could go in the top 3-5 picks). Gaunce’s skating abilities have been questioned by some, and there are scouting reports that put his speed and feet at “average” and it is why some have him in the 15-25 range. But what Gaunce does have is what the Stars need. He comes in at 6’2″ and roughly 210-215 lbs. at only 18. He is a center with good size and he could be a player ready to jump to the NHL sooner than a lot of the players around him in the rankings. Brendan shows the ability to do all the small things you want from a power forward that plays center. He can win faceoffs, win puck battles, work along the boards, and contribute offensively. This last season in the OHL he put up a point and penalty minute per game, with 20 goals and 68 points to go with 68 PIM in 68 games.
Why the Stars should take him: He plays an all-around game at center, something the Stars desperately need. While he might not be a #1 center offensively, he has the size and intangibles that teams want and could be a good 2nd liner. Not only does Dallas need centers, but they need ones that can play at both ends (something you don’t see at times from Ribeiro). Two-way skills, size, smart, checks, and can fight his way to any area he wants to get to in the offensive zone. I’ve also seen a couple reports call him a strong competitor and “gamer” in the big moments of games.
Why the Stars might pass: While he has shown determination to improve his overall game, the one thing that might never get better are his skating abilities. Average speed, not a great first step. Hard to stop when he gets moving, but his first couple of steps are mentioned on every report I have seen about him. He also might lack the offensive flair and firepower that some teams would want with a center taken in the top 15. Downside has him becoming a guy like Ott, upside would maybe be a David Backes or Jordan Staal. So there could be a little bit of risk involved, but in a way there is with every prospect.
Verdict: Gaunce looks like the type of player the Stars really need, and the fact that many say he is one of the more NHL-ready 1st rounders could make him “the guy” that Dallas targets at 13th. If the Stars follow through and make the same pick I did here, I would be happy with it.
Picks so far:
2. Columbus – Mikhail Grigorenko
4. NY Islanders – Ryan Murray
5. Toronto Maple Leafs- Filip Forsberg
6. Anaheim Ducks – Matthew Dumba
7. Minnesota Wild – Morgan Reilly
8. Carolina Hurricanes – Teuvo Teravainen
11. Washington Capitals – Radek Faksa
12 – Buffalo Sabres – Codi Ceci