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Dallas Stars: 2008-09 Top 12 Prospects

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Shane Malloy, Prospect Insider
12/29/2008 12:16:01 PM
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The Dallas Stars remember how they won the Stanley Cup; by following the notion that their success has been largely contingent on strong defense and goaltending.

The first pair of blueliners on this list - Mark Fistric and Ivan Vishnevskiy - will form a core making Marty Turco's workload easier one day. With Fistric demonstrating his argument for developing into a regular NHL contributor, and Vishnevskiy moving into the AHL, their time is destined to arrive soon. Before much longer, this progression will result in a need to replenish their prospect pool on the back-end, but the Stars have given themselves some time, since Fistric, Vishnevskiy, Trevor Daley and Nicklas Grossman are all 25-years-old and under.

Dallas's crease situation is more pressing now that Tobias Stephan has graduated from the prospect list. Towering netminder Tyler Beskorowany, and on the opposite end of the 'stature scale', diminutive Richard Bachman, now constitute the strength of the Stars' goaltending for the future. They have some time to be patient, since Turco still has a few prime years left; and it is still possible Stephan could develop into a NHL back-up goaltender.

The Stars' seeming lack of big name talent up front is not cause to underestimate them. With the likes of James Neal, Jamie Benn, Raymond Sawada, Colton Sceviour, Nico Sacchetti, Ondrej Roman, Sergei Korostin, Perttu Lindgren and Tom Wandell, they could represent the second, third and fourth lines in five years. However, the Stars are lacking elite talent at the forward position due in part to drafting lower in the first round - and trading their picks away.

The two bright spots on the forward ranks are Neal and Benn. Both could develop into solid second line forwards in the NHL. Every organization has one late round pick that flies under the radar, and for the Stars, this is Sceviour.

Although they traded away their first round picks in 2007 and 2008 for Ladislav Nagy and Mattias Norstrom, the Stars still have potential as a group. The scouting department, led by Tim Bernhardt, needs to make the most out of their next couple drafts in order to replenish their stock.

In the next couple of drafts they must address their lack of depth and talent on defense, find one more goaltender as well as find some elite level talent up front that can potentially play on the top two lines. One major concern is the fact that the Dallas Stars do not have their own AHL farm team this season and the prospects are spread out all over. Next season that situation will sort itself out but how much will the lack of personal attention affect the development of their kids and hurt the future is yet to be seen.

Mark Fistric - Defense, 22 (1st round, 28th overall, 2004)
Currently with Manitoba (AHL)

The one player who will be most pleased when Fistric hits the NHL ice full time will be Marty Turco since the Stars have not had a defenseman like him since Matvichuk and Hatcher. The 6-foot-2, 232 pound blueliner is one of the meanest and toughest defensemen not in the NHL. He has adjusted quickly to the pro game over the past year and a half in the AHL and has looked solid in his 37 game NHL call up last season. Fistric has jumped between the NHL and AHL this season and like all young defensemen, it takes time to develop their craft. But he looks ready to handle regular minutes at the major league level. He has the hockey sense to handle the speed and tempo of the NHL but he does not have the puck skills and passing ability to produce much offense. To his credit he keeps things simple and moves the puck quickly while remaining poised and relaxed. He can blast the puck from the point so he can keep forwards honest when they apply pressure. A good skater overall, his quickness and agility have improved since his junior days. Plays a tough physical style and enjoys laying big body checks and intimidating his opponents. Imagine the cartoon character Shrek on skates and you get the idea. Is as solid as they come without the puck and handles gap control and the angles well against the rush, while keeping his head on a swivel. Once in position he locks down that area and uses his body to block out forwards, keeps his stick in lanes and if you linger he will hurt you because he finds it fun. He has the capability to be a top defensive defenseman that shuts down opponents and is a natural leader with character and intangibles.

Ivan Vishnevskiy - Defense, 20 (1st round, 27th overall 2006)
Currently with Peoria (AHL)

This slick, puck moving defenseman has the capability and potential to create offense and become a long term replacement for Sergei Zubov if he works hard. He is the complete opposite of Mark Fistric at 6-foot, 180 pounds and he will need to add some muscle to his frame but his skills are world class. Since Fistric is comparable to Shrek, Vishnevskiy could be Donkey which could make for a few laughs around the locker room. He possesses excellent hockey sense and anticipated the developing play two steps ahead of all his peers when he was in the QMJHL., He likely would produce more points if playing with NHL players. His puck skills and passing ability is at the NHL level and he makes smart, fast decisions without hesitation. He has the passing skills to move the puck at full speed through tight areas or make that long break pass. Can stick handle like a forward and will create time for himself and his teammates especially on the rush or on the powerplay.

Over the past three years in the QMJHL he has compiled 144 points in 159 games with a respectable +28 rating along with 197 penalty minutes. So far as a rookie in the AHL he has looked solid, putting up a decent amount of points while playing on St. Louis's farm team. He has a dangerous wrist and slap shot from the point and he rarely telegraphs his shot. It always seems to get on net which explains why he has 44 goals. Not a physical player by nature but he gets his nose in there and competes hard now that he has garnered some confidence. He needs to add strength and power to his frame. Defensively he uses his quickness and hockey sense to stop the play before it starts. He is solid when it comes to understanding gap control, angles against the rush and maintaining an active stick while keeping his head and feet moving. Once down low he can get engulfed and overwhelmed when forced to block players out. He is more effective as a puck possession defender. As long as he hustles and works hard in the off season to get stronger he should not have too many issues at the next level on the blueline. Has the potential to be a top two defenseman that can quarterback the powerplay and could develop into a Kimmo Timonen-like blueliner with mentorship from Zubov.

Jamie Benn - Left Wing, 19 (5th round 129th overall, 2007)
Currently with Kelowna (WHL)

An under appreciated forward in his draft year while playing in the BCHL, he showed his worth by dominating the WHL at times last season. A solid 6-foot-2, 205 pound winger, he has shown the hockey sense to compete at the NHL level. Two seasons ago he had 65 points in 53 games in the BCHL. Last season he matched it by posting 65 points in 51 games with Kelowna. This season Benn has dominated the WHL with 45 points in 27 games, which earned him a spot on Team Canada's World Junior U20 team. Has very good puck skills and can pass the puck quickly and crisply, also can stick handle to create time and space. He seems to be at his best when driving to the net and lingering in the slot since he has a nose for the net and a knack for clutch goals. Of the 33 goals he scored last year, four were game winning goals and six were first goals while another two were in overtime. This shows his ability to be clutch and can be deadly on the powerplay. This season already he has four shorthanded, three game winning, two first goals and six insurance goals - now that is clutch goal scoring. Has soft hands and can deflect pucks in close to go along with a strong wrist and slap shot.

He is tough to get the puck from down low or in the slot and shows core strength and power beyond his weight. He has been training in the off-season with CrossFit which is the same program that all the actors on the Spartan movie 300 got their size and strength from. Is a good skater overall and can be a little sneaky with his quickness and displays the agility in tight areas to be effective. On the defensive side he works hard and hustles to make sure he maintains good body position and picks up his responsibility quickly. He makes good use of his quickness and active stick to disrupt passing lanes while reading and anticipating the play. He led the team by a wide margin in plus/minus for the most part last season with a +32 rating and rarely was on the ice for a 5-on-5 goal against. He will need another year in junior before he makes the jump but his off season work ethic has clearly paid dividends and he could be the steal of the draft.

James Neal - Left Wing, 21 (2nd round, 33rd overall, 2005)
Currently with Manitoba/Dallas (AHL/NHL)

He is a big 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward who likes to up and down his wing and bang bodies. He has good puck skills and they have translated to the AHL level with his 37 points in 62 games in his rookie season last year. This season he was a quick call up from the AHL after scoring five points in as many games and has not looked out of place in the NHL. A good skater for his size with some quickness and agility and once he gets rolling on the forecheck is hard to handle. Has a good wrist shot and slap shot with power and he is patient with soft hands in close and gets a lot of garbage goals. Shows an ability to be a clutch performer in the playoffs with 43 points in 37 games in junior with Plymouth but he has not had the chance to prove it in the pro ranks. A tough player to play against physically, he can wear down defensemen when he keeps his feet moving and hustles. Is improving his defensive game and like all young prospects it takes time to understand all the subtle nuances. He may be one of those second line power forwards or at worst a third line energy player that play's a physical game and occasionally contributes offense.

Raymond Sawada - Right Wing, 23 (2nd round, 27th overall, 2004)
Currently with Manitoba (AHL)

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward is a solid up-and-down winger with good wheels and he plays a smart game. He had surprising offensive production in his 10 game stint in the AHL with nine points and he shows the hockey sense to make decisions at a high tempo. Has a pretty solid right handed shot and gets the puck on net but it's uncertain whether he can score regularly at the pro level. His maturity and leadership qualities are nice intangibles and he works hard in the defensive zone and is accountable on and off the ice. A four year player at Cornell University who has made consistent developmental progress, he could play on the third line if he continues to progress at his current rate.

Nico Sacchetti - Center, 19 (2nd round 50th overall, 2007)
Currently with Minnesota (NCAA)

A fairly skilled two-way center that does not have big size but stocky at 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds. He doesn't do one thing great but is solid in all areas and finds a way to contribute. Has shown enough hockey sense and puck skills to play at a high level and has vision as a passer. Does not get rattled when under duress with the puck and moves the puck quickly while using his options well. A good skater that uses his quickness to separate and jump on loose pucks and has a wide base making him hard to knock of the puck. Is not a physical player but he will go into the danger areas and is not a perimeter player. Works hard in his own zone and takes responsibility to get back to help the defense first and hustles hard. Has shown to be solid on draws and coaches have leaned on him to take some crucial face-offs. It remains to be seen how his game translates as he moves on in the NCAA against stronger competition. As a freshman at Minnesota he has three points in 15 games which is not surprising considering the talent on that team. He most likely will play at least three seasons in college before turning pro and at that time the Stars will have a better idea of how he has developed.

Ondrej Roman - Left Wing, 19 (5th round 136th overall 2007)
Currently with Vitkovice (CZE)

A skinny skilled winger at 6-feet, 180-pounds, he has the offensive potential to contribute at the pro level, but it's still unclear whether that will be at the AHL or NHL level. This season he went back to his native Czech Republic to play for Vitkovice and has produced well with nine points in 26 games. Has above average hockey sense and shows good vision when moving the puck. You see flashes of puck skills with speed anstick handlingng to create time and space. Has a decent shot but does not shoot very often and tends to be a playmaker. Is a good skater overall but he lacks foot speed, however, he compensates by being quick and agile. He gets knocked around too often due to his slight frame and losses many one-on-one battles. His defensive game is improving but he could be more consistent and needs to add weight to maintain better body position. Overall he has developed better than most expected and has produced 109 points in 142 games with 90 of them being assists. Has been clutch in the playoffs in the WHL with 25 points in 27 games with a +13 rating. He will probably need to spend a couple years in the minors or in Europe before we can determine if he will develop into a NHL player.

Colton Sceviour - Center/Right Wing, 19 (4th round 112th overall 2007)
Currently with Lethbridge (WHL)

The fourth year junior player had a breakout season last year after being traded from Portland to Lethbridge scoring 64 points in 69 games with a +20 rating. Has average puck skills but he seems to have good hockey sense and knows where he needs to be. Has good stocky size at 5-foot- 11, 201-pounds and is an above average skater who shows pretty good two step quickness and agility down low. He has a good right handed wrist and slap shot and shows decent hands in close. Has a knack for scoring clutch goals with one shorthanded, four game winning, three first goals and two insurance markers already this season. Sceviour is on pace for 95 points in 68 games so he is proving he can be counted on night after night and it will be interesting to see if some of that can translate to the AHL level. He works hard for his opportunities and wins battles when he hustles and moves his feet. Is getting better defensively and is picking up the nuances which should allow him to potentially develop into a role player in the NHL. Has good intangibles and leadership and that should help him when he turns pro.

Perttu Lindgren - Center, 21 (3rd round 75th overall, 2005)
Currently with Lukko (FIN)

A skinny, skilled pivot at 6-feet, 185-pounds, he has what you want in a playmaking center. He had two good seasons in the Finnish elite league before coming over to North America and he easily adjusted to the speed and tempo. He possesses above average puck skills, vision and hockey sense to play at the AHL level and makes pretty decent decisions with the puck. Gets pushed around and does play any physical game whatsoever which will limit his development. Is responsible defensively but does not play with enough moxie to move up to the next level.

Sergei Korostin - Right Wing, 19 (3rd round 64th overall 2007)
Currently with Peterborough (OHL)

The skilled 5-foot-11, 180-pound Russian winger has the offensive ability but has yet to find the consistency in the other areas of his game. He possesses the hockey sense and ability to process information at the pro level, which allows him to make decisions at high speed. What makes Korostin dangerous in the offensive zone is his quickness and agility as he can sneak by defenders and jump on loose pucks after turnovers. His lack of strength hurts his overalfoot speeded which could be lethal. He does not play with much jam or enthusiasm and can be physically taken out of the game with hitting and intimidation. Perhaps if he added 20 pounds to his frame along with strength and power, it would help his confidence. Away from the puck he needs to show a greater commitment in doing the little things consistency and creating good habits if he wishes to play long term as a pro. A wildcard long term project.

Tom Wandell - Center, 21 (5th round 146th overall 2005)
Currently with Dallas/Timra (NHL/SWE)

A solid two way center who does not have the offensive skill set to contribute on a nightly basis in the NHL, he does have enough intangibles to earn a roster spot. Despite his size at 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, he plays bigger and is not afraid to mix it up and work hard. A solid skater with good quickness and uses it well in all three zones. He has yet to show the touch around the net to be a consistent goal scorer or the passing ability and vision to be anything more than a role player. A overall solid defensive player that seems to understand the importance of body position and keeping things simple. A potential role player that could be called up to the NHL when needed.

Tyler Beskorowany - Goalie, 18 (2nd round 59th overall 2008)
Currently with Owen Sound (OHL)

The towering lanky 6-foot-5, 199-pound netminder has the potential to be a pro but he will need time and patience in his overall development. Beskorowany is at his best when he is aggressive and remains square to the shooter, allowing the puck to hit him. Since size is his asset, it is important for him to stay in a compact frame and make subtle, quick movements in the crease and not overreact. Possesses pretty good speed, agility and skating ability in the crease. He needs to show consistency in his mechanics when recovering from a shot and maintaining proper angles once he sets up again. Shows the potential to be a fine goalie but the Stars will have to be patient with his development.

Ramp Interactive

Dallas Stars - NHL Entry Draft Record (1997 - 2003)

When looking at the drafting and developing record of a NHL organization it becomes an interesting blend of statistics and circumstances with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure. Most of the time the General Manager receives kudos for a team's fortunes at the draft table when in reality it is usually never the case in today's NHL. For the most part there are three aspects that make the whole process work; first is the amateur scouting department's ability to evaluate and project talent which may be the most challenging of all. Next the organizations player development department must attempt to mold the prospects by giving the players tools to enhance his talents. Perhaps most importantly is the prospects responsibility to pay the price and sacrifice which generally requires a tremendous work ethic. If one of these aspects fails then the likelihood of a prospect turning into an asset to his organization and having a NHL career becomes remote.

The reason for the analyzing the years from 1997 to 2003 is to first give each NHL organization five years to develop their prospects as players from different leagues evolve differently. Secondly the years from 1997-2003 are the players that should be the building blocks of the core of your team as they will be in the 23-29 year old age range. What makes each organization unique is what they do with the picks they have as management will often trade draft choices for immediate help on their NHL and AHL teams. Now some players may be real late bloomers and eventually make the criteria set in this analysis down the road but at this stage it is fascinating to see the results.

Criteria of NHL games played that deem a player has been drafted and developed successfully.

  Forwards - Defenceman Goaltenders
1997-2001 125-200 NHL Games required 51-100 NHL Games Played
2002-2003 100 NHL Games required 25-50 NHL Games Played
Pending Player - Represents a player who has a legitimate chance to make criteria

Dallas Stars 1997-2003

Year Draft Picks NHL Players Produced (Round/Pick)
1997 9 (LW) Brenden Morrow (1/25)
(C) Roman Lyashenko (2/52)
(D) Brett McLean (9/242)
1998 6 (D) John Erskine (2/39)
Niko Kapanen (6/173)
1999 11 (LW) Mathias Tjarnqvist (3/96)
2000 10 (LW) Steve Ott (1/25)
(D) Dan Ellis (2/60)
(D) Antti Miettinen (7/224)
(C) Joel Lundqvist (3/68)
2001 10 (LW) Jussi Jokinen (6/192)
(G) Mike Smith (5/161)
2002 12 (D) Trevor Daley (2/43)
(G) Tobias Stephan (2/34)
2003 11 (LW) Loui Eriksson (2/33)
(RW) B.J. Crombeen (2/54)

Total: 7yrs - 69 draft picks - 13 NHL Players = 18.8 percent success rate

Success in the first three rounds (1997-2003)

1st rnd Draft Choices: 4 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects: Jason Bacashihua, Martin Vagner

7yrs - 4 draft picks - 2 NHL Players = 50.0 percent success rate

2nd rnd Draft Choices: 13 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects - Tyler Bouck, Mike Ryan, Dan Jancevski, Janos Vas, Marius Holtet, Vojtech Polak, B.J. Crombeen, Tobias Stephan

7yrs - 13 draft picks - 5 NHL Players = 38.4 percent success rate + 1 pending

3rd rnd Choices: 9 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects - Steve Gainey, Gabriel Karlsson, Alexei Tereshenko, Yared Hagos, Anthony Aquino, Geoff Waugh, Matt Nickerson, Joel Lundqvist

7yrs - 9 draft picks - 1 NHL Players = 11.1 percent success rate + 1 pending

Total: 7yrs - 26 draft picks - 8 NHL Players = 30.7 percent success rate in first 3 rounds

First Three Rounds - Developed vs. Prospects/NA vs. Euro
Developed players: : (5) North American, (3) European
Undeveloped Prospects: (8) North American, (7) European

Success in the last six round (1997-2003)

4th rnd to 9th rnd Choices: 43 total picks
7yrs - 43 draft picks - 5 NHL Players = 11.6 percent success rate

Shane Malloy provides hockey prospect insight and analysis on his Prospect Insider feature on TSN.ca, Canada's leading sports website. Many sports networks, hockey magazines and major newspapers have drawn upon his expertise and knowledge. His passion for the game and involvement in grass roots hockey from the junior hockey to the National Hockey League is evident. He is currently a host and hockey event reporter on XM Sirius Satellite Radio (Home Ice 204) where he co-hosts a hockey radio show on Hockey Prospects and the Business of Hockey.

Prior to joining TSN, Malloy was the columnist-covering prospects for NHL.com for two years and a NHL and prospect columnist Fox Sports.com for six years.

This document is the intellectual property of Shane Malloy and cannot be used or duplicated in anyway without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Shane Malloy will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.

Hockey Prospect Radio

Stars defenseman Mark Fistric (Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
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