The 2012 NHL Draft is over, but the speculation and opinions on what all happened will carry on for years. For the Dallas Stars, the draft marked the next step forward in a new direction. With new ownership and a shifting management staff up near the top, it was expected that the Stars would try to rebuild the franchise and change things after four straight seasons without a playoff appearance.
The Stars kicked off their weekend with a bang, making one of the three big trades that happened within the first ten picks being announced. The Stars moved veteran playmaker Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals, getting back what would be their third 2nd round pick and prospect Cody Eakin. The trade signaled a big change in the the Stars as a NHL team. Ribeiro spent six seasons with the Stars, at times as the team’s top center. In his 461 games with the franchise, “Ribs” totaled 407 points and plenty of highlight plays. But with one season left on his current contract and the center set to be a 33-year old free agent next summer, the Stars decided to move forward with him now, rather then wait one more year. In Eakin the Stars received a prospect that could play on the NHL roster right away. Cody was the Capitals 3rd round pick in 2009, and the 21-year old had his first taste of the professional game this last season. Eakin put up 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points with a plus-4 rating in 43 games with the Hershey Bears, and 4 goals and 4 assists in 30 games with the big club. He is known for his speed and skating abilities along with his shot, and projects as a 2nd/3rd line center that can play a two-way game and score some.
From there the weekend got interesting as teams in the first half of the all-important first round Friday night drafted primarily defensemen. At one point seven straight blueliners went, resulting in top forwards like Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Radek Faksa being available a lot later than everyone expected. The Stars benefited as they selected Faksa with the 13th overall pick, adding the big center that they only dreamed would be there. In Faksa, Dallas picked up a young man with an already strong two-way game, high drive and IQ, and an offensive upside that players like Gaunce and Girgensons probably don’t have.
In the 2nd the Stars went to work with their trio of 2nd round picks, again adding centers to their depleted ranks. But with their first pick at 43rd the Stars took Ludwig Bystrom, a promising offensive defenseman with great skating abilities and good passing abilities from Sweden. Then the Stars selected Mike Winther with the 54th overall pick (the pick from the Ribeiro trade), another center added to their ranks. Winther has a small frame at 5’11″ and 175 pounds, but he has put up offensive numbers and played at both center and wing for the Prince Albert Raiders (Mike Modano’s former club). Then with their pick in the 2nd round, Dallas picked Devin Shore from the OJHL. Shore is yet another center with goal scoring potential who might take a while to make it to the NHL level because of growth, but could be a big reward down the road.
From there the Stars continued to pick players that might take a few years to become noticeable players, but could be big “booms” down the road. Blueliner Esa Lindell from Finland in the third round, center Gemel Smith from the OHL in the fourth round, right-wing power forward Branden Troock from the WHL in the fifth, goaltender project Henri Kiviaho from Finland in the fifth as well, and then defenseman Dmitry Sinitsyn with their final pick in the seventh round. While they might have taken some nice prospects that could have strong upside in a few years at the top, the Stars took some boom-or-bust guys in the last half of the draft. Not a bad idea considering many lower round picks never make it to the NHL.
In the end the Stars stuck to their promised focus of looking for centers, and it looks like a good plan. At the end of the day, they Stars got what the wanted with Faksa, and they have to be excited that he fell into their laps. While I don’t expect any of these draft picks to make the roster right away this fall, expect more discussion about that this week.
Topics: 2012 NHL Draft, Branden Troock, Cody Eakin, Dallas Stars, Devin Shore, Dmitry Sinitsyn, Esa Lindell, Filip Forsberg, Gemel Smith, Henri Kiviaho, Ludwig Bystrom, Mike Ribeiro, Mike Winther, Radek Faksa, Washington Capitals