Dallas Stars: Issues Begin With Poor Drafting, Developing Under Jim Nill

The Dallas Stars have few impact players to help right the ship in this late season fall from grace. This is mainly because they cannot seem to draft and develop prospects very well under GM Jim Nill.

The Dallas Stars have a multitude of issues that have no immediate solution. The injuries to Marc Methot, Jason Spezza, and Martin Hanzal, or the goaltending situation that features an ailed Ben Bishop come to mind first.

Then comes the coaching scheme that has seemingly failed to allow the individuals on top to take the team over. Or, the inability for the Stars to piece together depth lines that can drive consistent offensive production.

You can attribute their six straight losses to these issues, but none more than their struggles with drafting impact players with valuable picks. I’m confident in saying that the 2017-18 season for the Dallas Stars would be completely different if they could draft as well as other aspiring contenders.

Especially under general manager Jim Nill, the Stars have drafted little more role players since the change of the decade. We all know of the Scott Glennie, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Jack Campbell, and Jamie Oleksiak catastrophic first-round picks under previous GMs, but Nill’s tenure at the position has been no better from a drafting standpoint.

When you’ve been the GM for five years, the players you helped scout, draft, and develop should be making a difference for the NHL club by now. Well, let’s take a look at every major, top two-round selection Nill has been in charge of.

There are zero current impact players on the list. From 2013, Nichushkin is playing in Russia as a KHLer, Dickinson is perpetually up and down between the Dallas Stars and Texas Stars (AHL), and Elie is a bottom-six checking-line player with little offensive output.

2014’s Draft was no better. Though Honka has a 50-60 point ceiling, he has yet to consistently crack the Dallas lineup and impose his offensive skill. Pollock is a wasted pick, in a sense, traded away for Kris Russell two trade deadlines ago and playing for the Calgary Flames’ AHL club.

2015 can be marked as a success as Gurianov and Hintz will be NHLers sooner or later, but the players drafted around the first-round Russian currently with Texas – like Mat Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Jake DeBrusk – show the error of Nill’s way.

While Barzal and Connor pace a hefty Calder Trophy race, Gurianov and Hintz develop chemistry in Cedar Park. It’s great to cook your prospects to perfection, but to have a guy that can jump in and play top-six minutes like the aforementioned three is better for the short-term future of a team that’s supposed to be in “win-now more.”

2016 featured just one pick within the first 89 players taken, and that guy was NCAA forward Riley Tufte. NCAA players generally take longer to make an impact in pro hockey as their college education holds importance as well. Tufte is a long-term project from a skill standpoint and a logistical standpoint.

2017 isn’t really fair to put here for either side. Nill got Heiskanen thanks to an extremely fortuitous Draft lottery, and simply didn’t mess up. Heiskanen, just like the Stars prospects above, has not made a difference at the NHL level, though.

It goes beyond Nill in terms of lack of premier players, of course, but to think the only league-renowned players the Stars have drafted are two lucky fifth-round picks (Jamie Benn, John Klingberg) is unsettling.

To draft and develop players is to create a lifeline for your NHL club to succeed, not to keep them waiting until they’re 23 to enter the big leagues and play a watered down, specialized role. While the issues for the Dallas Stars are countless right now, everything begins with a shaky, horrendous job at drafting by general manager Jim Nill and his crew.