The Dallas Stars ended up holding onto their first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. They ended up spending it on defense as they selected defenseman Thomas Harley at 18th overall.
Going into the first night of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, there was speculation as to whether or not the Dallas Stars would end up spending their first-round pick on a prospect.
While they sat at 18th overall, the chance of moving back in Round 1 in an attempt to add another pick to their limited arsenal seemed like a feasible option.
But, it didn’t pan out that way. Instead, the Stars held onto their pick and took what many regarded as the best player available by drafting defenseman Thomas Harley with the 18th overall selection.
The 17-year-old (he will turn 18 on Aug. 19, 2019) defender is a native of Syracuse, New York and spent the past two seasons playing for the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL. And in the most recent season, he served as an offensive powerhouse on the blue line. In the 2018-19 campaign, Harley posted 11 goals and 58 points in 68 regular season games and tacked on four assists in four playoff games.
And, as has become tradition for the Stars in the past few drafts, it was a bit of an unexpected pick. Names like Ryan Suzuki and Cam York seemed to be likely targets that fit the Stars’ mold. On top of that, Harley was ranked from the 11-20 range by most scouts and wasn’t necessarily on the Dallas radar.
Even so, the Dallas Stars landed a quality left-handed defenseman that should quickly become one of the top defensive prospects in the organization’s farm system.
“Thomas is an incredible young player with strong skating abilities and an incredible hockey sense, which allows him to see the ice in ways many at his age cannot,” said Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell in the press release. “Over his two seasons with Mississauga, he has taken great strides to improve his game, displaying the dedication and work ethic necessary to become a player in the National Hockey League.”
The first question that typically arises with every draft prospect is in regards to what the player brings to the franchise. What are his strengths and weaknesses? What is his playing style? Which NHL player does he model his game after? What does his overall game look like?
Harley is known for his hockey sense and is a strong skater, which is unique considering his 6-3, 192 lb. frame. He handles the puck and reads the ice well, and is known for being a good passer and setup player (considering he finished fourth among all OHL defenders in assists with 47).
He possesses impressive reaction skills and is a great transition player when combining his skating and passing abilities. For an offensive defenseman, he possesses impressive abilities in the defensive zone and is known for limiting dangerous opportunities in the his own zone. Harley mentioned that he tries to model his game after Thomas Chabot, the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators defender who posted 14 goals and 55 points with the worst defensive team in the NHL in 2018-19.
Thomas Harley has never been to Texas before, but he can’t wait to get here. He breaks down his game for us and talks about everything leading up to draft day. pic.twitter.com/j6epuSRIvL
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) June 22, 2019
With the selection, the Dallas Stars have added another strong defensive prospect to an already young and talented blue line group.
Harley was regarded as one of the best players available at pick 18, and Nill made a good decision in drafting one of the best defenders in the OHL that should have a bright NHL future if he continues developing at his current rate.