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Thursday, June 23, 2011
Stars seek best player available in draft

By Mark Stepneski

The Dallas Stars head into this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft with six picks, including the 14th overall selection in the first round. And when it comes time for the Stars to make their choice they’ll go with the best player available, rather than try to fill a hole at a certain position.

Chances are the players taken in the draft will be a few years away at the earliest and who knows what the teams needs will be when those players might be finally ready for the NHL.

“I think the philosophy has always been take the best player. Your needs certainly change as you go along. If you draft on need, I think you are looking for trouble,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “I think  we addressed some of our deficiencies on the blue line last year with the trade for Alex Goligoski and our defense is much more mobile now. Things always change in our game, the game is always evolving. If you take the best players available it leaves you with the best opportunity to move forward.”

While things change in the game and a team’s needs can change, the there are some constants the Stars always look for in a young prospect.

“Character is the important thing,” said Les Jackson, Stars Director of Scouting and Player Development. “The game has evolved, there’s the new CBA and new rules have come in, but the one thing that never changes is the quality of the people – guys who care and work. That’s always the number one criteria. If they have an understanding of the game and some skill attributes, potential to grow and mature, then those are important parts too.”

Nieuwendyk believes the Stars are starting to collect a good stable of young prospects for the future. He mentioned players like forwards Alex Chiasson, Reilly Smith and Scott Glennie. And the goal is bring more prospects into the mix.

“I think the focus is to continue to try to stockpile the prospects that we have. I know we are going to get a good player at 14,” Nieuwendyk said. “There could be good possibilities that present themselves where we move down or we move up. Those are things that we discuss as we lead up to the draft.”

With the Stars already having lost a pick in this year’s draft (3rd round/75th overall) due to the Jamie Langenbrunner trade, a trade down to add an extra pick would seem more likely. Jackson said this year’s draft is a deep one, where teams can get good prospects in later rounds.

“I think it’s got good depth. I find that the team’s that do their work and do a thorough job through the season, they find players,” Jackson said. “I think this draft has some real high-end guys and it’s got real good depth  all the way through. That’s the one of the reasons you can talk about moving back. You can move back and protect yourself.”

While media and fans work off several of the available rankings of prospects from scouting services and media outlets, each team puts together its own list. Jackson said the Stars’ list is basically completed in the spring but isn’t finalized until just before the draft.

”We’re basically there [with our list] and have been for the last two-and-half-months,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of work to do with who we are going to select at 14. Our team psychologist does a lot of work and he’s busy with his own job, so we take up until a couple days before the draft to get all the information and finalize it. We can always change. You get information as you along and tweak the list, but generally if we had to go to the draft in May we could have done it.”

2011 NHL Draft

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
Round 1: Friday, June 24, 6 p.m. (Versus)
Rounds 2-7: Saturday, June 25, 10 a.m. (NHL Network-US)

Stars’ draft picks

The Stars have six picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. They don’t have a 3rd round pick. That was traded to New Jersey as part of the deal that brought Jamie Langenbrunner to Dallas last season.

1st round (14th overall)
2nd round (44th overall)
4th round (105th overall)
5th round (135th overall)
6th round (165th overall)
7th round (195th overall)

Top prospects

Here’s a look at the top 30 prospects in the draft based on a compilation of five separate rankings by scouting services and media outlets.