Draft day is always an interesting time, but this draft for Dallas was especially interesting, mostly due to the Valeri Nichushkin draft pick. The rest of the draft day continued to be a bit odd as the Stars took a goalie early and used most of the other draft picks on left wings.
The team probably didn’t add as many centers or defensemen as fans may have hoped for, but the general consensus is that Dallas had a solid day overall.
I’ll be a taking a closer look at each of the draft picks in this article and giving a look at how each will fit with the Stars.
Round 1 Pick 10
Valeri Nichushkin W – KHL
Age: 18 (Born March 4, 1995)
Weight: ~200 lbs
It’s been a day later and I still can’t quite believe that the Stars were able to pick Nichushkin. The young Russian winger was one of the clear top five talents in this draft, but the usual concerns about Russian players cropped up. There were some concerns about his NHL availability, and he somehow unbelievably dropped right into the Stars’ laps.
One of the reasons why I never did a profile over him was that I never thought he would fall to Dallas. Nichushkin and Elias Lindholm were my two “man I hope they drop” guys among the top 10.
Nichushkin is the definition of a power forward. He’s big, strong and plays a rough, physical game. He’s an excellent skater and can work wonders with the puck on his stick. The talent is there for this kid to be a superstar in this league.
Coming into the draft there were a few doubts about whether or not he would leave the KHL, but those doubts have been quelled.
Nichushkin will be with the Dallas Stars next season and should be a major contender for the Calder. I would expect him to skate mostly in a third-line role with a look now and then with the second line. There have been very few elite, instant impact picks for the Stars in their history. Nichushkin is one of them.
Round 1 Pick 29
Jason Dickinson C – OHL
Twitter – @jdickinson_11
Age: 17 (Born July 4, 1995)
Weight: ~180 lbs
Shoots – Left-handed
Dickinson was projected to be a second-round pick, so there’s no reach in taking him No. 29 in the first round. Dallas needed to add another center in the first round, and Dickinson was their man as they passed up fan target Nicolas Petan.
Dickinson is extremely talented. He’s a fantastic skater, has great vision and hockey IQ and soft set of hands. Throw in the fact that he’s also very good on the defensive end of the ice, and there’s a lot to like about the young Canadian.
The biggest issue that scouts had with him was his inconsistency. He’d disappear for a stretch of games and didn’t have quite the impact someone of his talent should. His talent is undeniable though, and there’s a huge reward for Dallas in the future if Dickinson works hard at his game.
If things work out for Dickinson in the future, he’ll be a top-six forward on this team and most likely be a second-line center. In terms of talent and potential, Dickinson has the highest potential of any center in the Stars prospect system, even more than Radek Faksa. It’s all about working to get that potential now.
Round 2 Pick 40
Remi Elie LW – OHL
Twitter – @Remi_Elie
Age: 18 (Born April 16, 1995)
Weight: ~200 lbs
Elie was a bit of an overlooked figure among the players on a badass, championship-winning London Knights team. The big, bruising winger played a depth role with the Knights and was steady throughout the year. It’s interesting though that Dallas thought this highly of him despite Elie not getting a whole lot of time.
Elie is a workhorse. He’s all-out on every shift and uses his size well in hitting anything in the opposing team’s sweater. He’s the prototypical checking line winger and one of those guys who can easily become a fan favorite.
He’s an above-average skater and below-average with the puck. His shot is okay, but he hasn’t shown a consistent scoring touch just yet. He hasn’t had an opportunity though, so it could be there. It’s a very simple game for Elie. He’ll get the puck into the zone and forecheck till the sun goes down.
Elie’s an interesting project pick for Dallas. He could have probably been available in the fourth or even fifth round, but Dallas obviously liked him enough to reach in the early second. He’ll play a bigger role with London as the flashier names leave the team, so it’ll be interesting to see how he develops with more ice time. The next couple of years will be quite telling as to what type of player he’ll be.
As it stands now, Elie looks like a high-energy, jackrabbit-type depth player at the NHL level, somewhat similar to what Antoine Roussel brought to the team last season. Elie has a bit more offensive potential though. It’ll be four or five years before he’ll have an impact with Dallas.
Round 2 Pick 54
Philippe Desrosiers G – QMJHL
Twitter – @pdesro30
Age: 17 (Born August 16, 1995)
Weight: ~190 lbs
This was a bit of an odd pick for me as the Stars already have some solid goalie depth, but it seems Desrosiers piqued their interest enough to take him late in the second round.
There’s a lot to be liked about the kid though, and the more I read about him, the better I feel about this pick.
Desrosiers is as agile and athletic as any goalie in the past couple of draft classes. Foot speed, agility, reflexes, puck handling, the quick glove hand, it’s all there in terms of physical tools for Desrosiers.
So why wasn’t he the top option in goal for this draft? It’s because he just hasn’t quite learned to harness all of that talent just yet with consistent technique and positioning in net. He’s like a faucet that’s always on at full blast right now. Learning how to put all of his tools together and playing with control will be what he’ll need to work on for the next three or four years.
Desrosiers is a fascinating pick. With Kari Lehtonen locked in the starting role for a while and Jack Campbell waiting in the wings, this looked like just a depth building pick. However, Desrosiers has the skills to be a solid, if not elite, No. 1 goalie in the future, and he may make Campbell a valuable trade chip in the next couple of years. He could easily be the goalie of the future for this team.
Round 3 Pick 68
Niklas Hansson D – Sweden (SEL)
Age: 18 (Born Jan. 8, 1995)
Weight: ~170 lbs
Ah, the coveted right-shot defenseman. It’s something pretty much every Stars fan was looking for in this draft (though most were looking at Ristolainen), and Dallas picked it up in the third round. As one can tell from his bio, he’s a bit on the small side and is going to be an offensive defenseman.
Offensive defenseman equals a good skater with good vision and passing but in massive need of work on the defensive side of the ice, and that’s no different here. Dallas has a bunch of these types of guys in the system already (in terms of playing style).
We won’t hear much of Hansson for a while. It’ll take a good amount of time (five or six years) before there’s any chance of him making an impact with this team. If nothing else, he could be useful at the AHL level. It’s all about filling out the frame now and improving the defense.
Round 4 Pick 101
Nicholas Paul LW – OHL
Age: 18 (Born March 20, 1995)
Weight: ~200 lbs
Paul is another big, bruising left winger added in this draft (something Dallas seemed to be aiming for). He’s what you would expect out of a guy his size, but he has the nice surprise of being a solid puck handler and is excellent on the defensive side of the ice, something he should continue to excel at in the next couple of years.
Paul adds some nice size and toughness to the system. If he does make it to the NHL, he’ll be no more than a depth liner. I would have personally preferred another center prospect here, but Dallas seemed keen on taking all the left wingers in this draft.
Round 5 Pick 131
Cole Ully LW – WHL
Age: 18 (Born Feb. 20, 1995)
Weight: ~165 lbs
If anyone is going to know what to expect out of a Kamloops Blazers kid, it’s Tom Gaglardi and the Stars. Ully was yet another left wing added to the system, but he plays a different style than the others drafted.
Ully is on the thinner side at only around 165 lbs, but he has good height at 5’11” and should eventually fill out his frame. He’s a speedy, solid skating prospect with a nice scoring touch and underrated passing ability.
If Ully can fill out his frame, this could be a nice steal for the Stars (as is usual in the fifth round), and he could be a nice depth player in the future.
Round 6 Pick 149
Matej Paulovic LW – SEL
Twitter: @MPaulovic (I think. This may not be him)
Age: 18 (Born Jan. 13, 1995)
Weight: ~190 lbs
I have nothing on this kid other than that he’s another big left winger added to the squad. Dallas likes to take kids playing in the SEL and has had good luck in the past, so they must have seen something they really liked about him. They had nice success so far with another Matej (Stransky) so maybe this will work out as well.
It’ll be interesting to see what he brings into prospect camp.
Round 7 Pick 182
Aleksi Makela D – Finland
Age: 20 (Born March 3, 1993)
Weight: ~175 lbs
Another right-shot defenseman added here, though who knows what to expect out of Makela. He’s one of the older guys in this draft at 20 and seems a bit on the smaller side.
I wouldn’t expect too much out of him, but we’ll need a look at the prospects camp to see what his game is like.