With the 2012 NHL Draft only a few weeks away, it is time to start looking at possible prospects the Dallas Stars are looking at with the 13th overall selection. Earlier this week I looked at center Brendan Gaunce (read here), and today’s report will be on another big center that the Stars could be targeting. In each post I will look at the prospect, what he brings to the table, where he could go in the first round, and why the Stars should be looking at him. Follow Blackout Dallas on Twitter and LIKE on Facebook for more discussion!
Faksa comes into the draft as another center prospect that can do it all. The young man from the Czech Republic just finished his first full season in North America, but it didn’t take long for his stock to start jumping up the draft rankings. In his last season he dominated Trinec’s Under-18 and Under-20 teams, putting up 49 points in 28 games at the U18 level and another 15 in 24 games at the U20 level. But what impressed many was what he did in his first year on this side of the hockey world. After being drafted by the Kitchener Rangers (a team that has turned out a few studs in recent years in Landeskog, Skinner, Boedker, Ryan Murphy last summer, and Mike Richards in 2003), the young forward put up 29 goals and 38 assists in just 62 games in his rookie year in the OHL. Those numbers were by far the best for a rookie as he finished with the most points by a first year player by 13 points over the 2nd place finisher.
Faksa does compare to Gaunce in some ways. Radek has a big frame 6’3″ and around 200 pounds, and he also has a solid two-way game. Faksa is known for being willing to play in traffic and having an elite hockey IQ. But while might Gaunce might excel a bit more in the “full center package” by being a better faceoff and natural center in his own end, Faksa shows a better offensive upside. He knows how to protect and control the puck, and is willing and able to fight his way to wherever he wants to be in the offensive zone. While his game is still developing and he is still growing into his size, he has a great shot and already shows good playmaking abilities and decision making. He will need to fill out a tad more as he grows and might be a year or two away from being ready to turn pro, but the potential final package looks very promising. He lacks a tad of the “w0w” factor of an elite talent, but the full package makes up for that.
Why the Dallas Stars should draft him: After taking a possible elite netminder and top defenseman with their last two first round selections, the Stars need to address the center position this summer. Faksa can play all three forward positions and has shown that he can switch to winger, but a big body and all-around package like his could be great at the center position with a little more development. He knows how to use his size and strength in the offensive zone, and can either set-up and execute or just get to the front of the crease. That is something the Stars could definitely use with many of their current forward prospects lacking size and power at the level that he possesses. He has played on both sides of the special teams game too, adding more to what he could bring to any team that takes him.
He will be drafted around: The parity with the rankings after the top eight or so prospects could mean that he could anywhere from the tail-end of the top 10 to lower teens. But I think he comes off the board around 9th-15th. The Stars might have to move up a spot or two if they do really want him, but if he still is available at 13th they need to take him. I think only one of him and Gaunce will still be on the board at 13th, and the Stars might just end up taking whoever is still there.
NHL players that he compares to: He also compares to David Backes, but I’ve also heard Mike Richards or Tomas Plekanec. The difference is how much he develops offensively and he continues to play physical at the next level.