The 2023 NHL Draft: A Dallas Stars mock draft perspective

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 07: Tom Gaglardi of the Dallas Stars attends the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 07: Tom Gaglardi of the Dallas Stars attends the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

When looking at the Dallas Stars 2023 draft situation, there is not as much excitement to anticipate for this year’s class. The Stars only have 5 picks in this draft. However, ‘hockey Twitter’ and the media have been labeling this draft as a deep and amazing crop of 2005-born kids.

If this draft ends up being one of the best classes in recent memory, Stars fans may look at this draft as a blunder in draft capital management, where the Stars will stand by while future NHLers get selected by other clubs. With this in mind, I will answer the following questions throughout this piece:

  1. Why does the 2023 draft not matter as much to Dallas in their eyes?
  2. What could Dallas do on draft day?
  3. Who should Dallas take with their first pick?

To reach such clarity on the potential organizational strategies, I have used public scouting and analytical information on 2023 NHL Draft-eligible athletes to understand who may be available for the Stars at their respective draft slots.

Why 2023 is not a critical Dallas Stars draft (to them)

The 2023 NHL Draft will be a pivotal moment for franchises like the Chicago Blackhawks, but less so for the Dallas Stars.

First of all, the Dallas Stars traded their first-round pick in September 2022 to acquire Nils Lundkvist, a prospect who should be part of the Stars’ future (considering they gave up such a price to get the defenseman). Furthermore, they traded their third-round pick in March this year to acquire Scott Wedgewood, who served as a backup goaltender to Jake Oettinger prior to injury issues down the stretch.

It is assumed that the Stars knew they’d be a playoff team and felt comfortable parting with these picks to add to their present and future starting roster, and with the assumption that the team’s selections would be relatively late in each round because of their predicted playoff success.

This assumption came true following a third-round playoff exit. The result of this 2023 playoff run means the Dallas Stars traded pick #28 and pick #93 (it could be worse).

Using Dom Luszcyzyzyn’s pick value chart, the difference in pick value between where the Stars pick first (61st overall) and their previously-owned 28th overall selection is as follows:

28th overall = 3.1 Game Score Value Added (GSVA)

61st overall = 1.1 GSVA

Difference = 2.0 GSVA

Simply put, GameScore Value Added (GSVA) is a catch-all statistic that looks to include more than base stats to identify a player’s value, which includes things like usage. For reference, 2.0 GSVA is the mathematical difference between Jason Robertson’s 5.0 GSVA 2022-2023 season and Sebastian Aho’s 3.0 GSVA 2022-2023 season.

Read into that what you will. To me, this is not “nothing” to lose, but it is not much in the grand scheme of things (especially if Lundkvist pans out). As a consequence of the two trades mentioned above, Dallas is nowhere near the richest team in pick value for the 2023 draft. But with this in mind, what could Dallas still do on draft day?

What could the Dallas Stars do on draft day?

Trade up?

The Stars want players who can play on the starting roster ‘today’, since the playing window for some of the veterans on the team is closing (e.g. Joe Pavelski). Therefore it is unlikely that Dallas will spend assets to move up in this specific draft since this player may not even touch the ice with the likes of Joe Pavelski by the time they are NHL-ready, and sacrificing assets like good prospects and other selections seem to go against the philosophy of previous years where the team remains patient and makes deadline moves by holding onto assets for most of the season.

Trade down?

As many analytical minds argue, trading down is a great way to accumulate pick value in desperate situations. However, picks like 61st overall are not likely to be a talking point on draft day phone calls unless another team sees a player falling into the mid-50s.

This is more a “day-of” scenario and picks like 61st overall are not something you want to bother teams with. If someone calls Dallas about the pick, I can see them listening, but the Stars likely feel obliged to keep their pick to avoid drafting the “head” of their 2023 Draft Class too late into the draft.

Overall, I envision relatively-quiet phones for Dallas aside from in-the-moment decisions based on the fallout of previous selections and the possibility of chatting about roster improvements that may not even include picks from the current draft.

What should you do with 61st overall?

In considering public mock drafts and personal scouting information, some of the following players could be available at 61st overall:

Lukas Dragicevic (D)
Cam Allen (D)
Charlie Stramel (F)
Denver Barkey (F)
Adam Gajan (G)
Nick Lardis (F)

With this in mind, I do not see the Stars targeting a goalie with their 2nd-rounder because of the high upside of the rest of these hypothetically-available players at 61. Nick Lardis would be a fan favorite because of his speed and his rush threats, but inconsistencies team-to-team in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) may scare teams away.

Cam Allen had a fine year in Guelph in the OHL, but his base stats regressing from last year might scare teams away. If I were to pick in this position, and Denver Barkey of the London Knights was available, I’d take someone like him because of his 200-foot responsibility and awareness combined with good hands and overall “energy” style of play. There may also be good right-shot defencemen available that Dallas could take.

I hope the Dallas Stars do not draft an overager, for two reasons. First, the Stars already let some of their young draftees’ rights expire like Connor Roulette because of contract limits and the recent performances of those athletes.

Second, taking a risk on a late-birthday 2005 player rather than a 2004 or someone older who is re-entering the draft would be smarter because of the upside that the 2005 player could have in their “extra year” of development.

Everyone has seen what players like Connor Bedard have done at 16, 17, and now 18, and determined athletes like him will continue to improve their craft to be better than their younger selves.

Someone like Denver Barkey could surprise the OHL next year, making him worth such a selection in hindsight, rather than picking a “high-floor” or “certainty” athlete (an overager having already performed a certain amount in his 18-year-old season).

With considerable options at 61, the Dallas Stars will get a good player despite the late draft selection.

Mock Draft (hypothetical)

Sources: FC Hockey, TheAthletic, DobberProspects, TheHockeyWriters,,

2nd Round – 61st Overall

My Pick: Denver Barkey (F)
FC Hockey: Michael Hrabal (G)
TheAthletic: Adam Gajan (G)
DobberProspects: Aydar Suniev (W)
The Hockey Writers: Andrew Gibson (RD) Noah Dower Nilsson (C) Carey Terrance (F)

4th Round – 125st Overall

My Pick: Axel Hurtig (D)
FC Hockey: Aiden Fink (RW)
TheAthletic – Corey Pronman: Konnor Smith (LD) Konnor Smith (LD)

5th Round – 157st Overall

My Pick: Austin Roest (F)
FC Hockey: Brady Schultz (D) Mikhail Ye. Ilyin (LW)

6th Round – 189th Overall

My Pick: Aiden Celebrini (D)
FC Hockey: Parker Kalem (D) Oliver Tulk (RW)

7th Round – 221st Overall

In this case, you can take your scout’s favorite goalie if you haven’t taken one already in your previous four picks. You can also take an older forward who you want to retain the rights of and see if they can make your AHL team. You can also take a younger player with low production with the hopes that they improve as they get older.

The best-case-scenario for a pick like this is taking a high-producing player with flaws or knocks (e.g. 5’9”, skating issues, etc.) and trusting in the NHL, AHL, and other minor league development staffs to either ignore said issue and let the player play to their strengths or work on the issue while they are young to try to make good habits for when they need consistency as a pro. That being said, I have picked the talented Dylan Ernst of the Tom Gagliardi-owned Kamloops Blazers.

My Pick: Dylan Ernst (G)
FC Hockey: Nikita Blednov (C) Joe Palodichuk (LD)

Final Thoughts

I expect Dallas to come away from the 2023 NHL Draft with some defensive prospects and at least one goaltender, but I would argue that they choose the best player available regardless of the need for defensive prospects in the organization. My draft went as such:

61st Overall: Denver Barkey (F)
125th Overall: Axel Hurtig (D)
157th Overall: Austin Roest (F)
189th Overall: Aiden Celebrini (D)
221st Overall: Dylan Ernst (G)

It is more than likely that all of these picks are different on Draft Day, but it was fun to speculate which type of players Dallas might draft. It has been great to see Dallas avoid biases in the past in some areas like size when drafting talents like Logan Stankoven, so I can see that philosophy continuing in future drafts with someone like Denver Barkey, should he be available.

Dallas has an important next few months for their franchise. The draft, while important, may play less of a part in their offseason agenda than in previous years. That is okay, because it is still an uber-important day for the kids who have worked their whole life to earn the NHL draft slot, so congrats to all the future Dallas Stars prospects, and I look forward to seeing you all play well above your pick value to show how important the 2023 draft really was in Dallas Stars history.

If you want to check out who the Stars drafted last year in the 2022, click the link below to see the slideshow.