The Dallas Stars came into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with nine selections.
New General Manager Jim Nill has played a major part in some very successful drafts during his time with the Detroit Red Wings. The hope is that some of the Red Wings magic will rub off on the Stars.
Time will tell if that is going to be the case, but the early returns are promising.
The Stars draft began when one of the five most talented players in the draft slid to them at No. 10. The Stars quickly snapped up right winger Valeri Nichushkin. Nothing the Stars did afterward could have made the draft a failure. The Stars have desperately needed impact talent, and some scouts rated Nichushkin as the top player in the draft. But really, the top tier of this draft class is full of potential superstars -- he clearly fit in that group.
Nichushkin fits into a larger draft narrative. The Stars once again targeted taller players. This time the focus was on skill instead of size, though. As you will see, most of the Stars new prospects could stand to add anywhere from 15-30 pounds. The Stars also targeted particularly young prospects. The oldest player they drafted was drafted in January of 1995, and eligibility begins with birthdays in mid-September of 1994.
Without further adieu, the Stars latest crop of prospects:
1-10. RW – Valeri Nichushkin, Chelyabinsk (KHL) / 6'3", 196 lbs, 3/04/1995
The tier of this draft had five players with legitimate chances to be superstars. One of those players is Valeri Nichushkin.
Nichushkin is a big winger from the KHL who doesn't appear to speak a lick of English. The possibility that he could stay in Russia undoubtedly pushed some teams away, but he has made no mistake about his intent to play in the NHL. He doesn't want to play in the AHL, but really, why would he?
Some huge comparables have been attached to the kid already. I've already seen the names Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin thrown around.
The answer is somewhere in between.
He is a big power forward who has been described as the best skater in this draft class. If you watch video of him, the first thing you notice after his size and speed is how well he uses his body to protect the puck. Unlike the players he has been compared to, Nichushkin has a defensive conscience. His two-way sensibilities should play well under new coach Lindy Ruff.
The biggest concern with Nichushkin is that he is going to have to get used to American culture on the fly. He has no interest in going to the AHL, so he is going to have to make some big life adjustments quickly. He is expected to go right onto the Stars roster and right into the fire. A veteran like Sergei Gonchar is going to be indispensable during the coming season, and it wouldn't be entirely shocking to see the Stars attempt to acquire a Russian center to help mentor Nichushkin.
1-29. C – Jason Dickinson, Guelph (OHL) / 6'1", 179 lbs, 7/4/1995
Dickinson is a very intriguing prospect. He is a fast player who has been described as both very creative offensively and an advanced defensive thinker. The Stars have already compared him to Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. The biggest obstacle to Dickinson reaching his ceiling is bulk.
According to McKeen's Hockey, Dickinson has shown an aversion to being hit, been inconsistent in battling through checks, and has had difficulty adding mass. If he is able to add mass, fighting through checks will become easier and the Stars could be looking at a solid up-the-middle prospect.
One final tidbit on Dickinson is the scoring roll he went on after Christmas. He scored 35 points on the season, but 27 of those came after Dec. 25. He could be primed to breakout as early as next season.
2-40. LW - Remi Elie, London (OHL) / 6'0", 203 lbs, 4/16/1995
Elie is a power forward who is said to model his game after Milan Lucic and Jamie Benn. In his rookie season in the OHL, he predominantly saw fourth-line minutes, but his responsibility grew as the season progressed. He was overshadowed on a team that featured two 2013 first-round picks in Bo Horvat and Max Domi. Increased ice time next year should lead to more offensive production.
The pick went a little bit off the board. Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus had him ranked as the 116th prospect in the draft.
2-54 G - Philippe Desrosiers, Rimouski (QMJHL) / 6'1", 182 lbs, 08/16/1995
Desrosiers was the goalie for Team Canada at the U-18 World Junior Championships. Goalies are generally a crap-shoot, and no one has ever been able to effectively identify how a goalie will turn out. Desrosiers had a save percentage in line with the other goalies in the QMJHL, but it was nothing special. He added a very good showing at the U-18 tournament. He was generally considered to be among the top-five goalies in this draft, and the Stars picked him up with their extra 2nd-round pick.
3-68 D - Niklas Hansson, Rogle Jr. (Sweden Jr.) / 6'0", 163 lbs, 01/08/1995
Hansson flew under the radar for most of the year. He is an offense-first defenseman who has been described as a player with serious offensive instincts by both the ISS and Red Line Report. As you can see by his measurements, the kid needs to add some meat to his bones. He generally appears to be another high risk/high reward type of prospect, like Jason Dickinson.
4-101 LW - Nicholas Paul, Brampton (OHL) / 6'2", 202 lbs, 3/20/1995
Paul is a young winger known for his physical play. Some reports describe a poor skating ability.
5-131 LW - Cole Ully, Kamloops (WHL) / 5'11", 164 lbs, 2/20/1995
Ully is a smaller player known for his defensive ability. Various reports say he has some offensive ability, but it appears this his main calling card will be his defensive play. He is also generally described as a very fast player.
5-149 LW - Matej Paulovic, Farjestad Jr. (Sweden Jr.) / 6'3", 176 lbs, 1/13/1995
Paulovic was not ranked by any of the major services. He is more or less going to remain a mystery until development camp opens, but the one thing that sticks out is his frame. At 6'3", 176 he has a lot of room to add bulk to his frame.
7-182 D - Aleksi Makela, Ilves Jr. (Finland Jr.) / 6'1", 176 lbs, 2/8/1995
Makela was not ranked by any of the major services, but the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau ranked him 96th among European skaters.
Josh Lile has more Stars insight than pretty much anyone locally who hasn't at some point drawn a Stars paycheck. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshL1220.