The Dallas Stars have a solid core with Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Rope Hintz, John Klingberg, and Miro Heiskanen. Even though the team is one of the top 4 seeds in the Western Conference with the new playoff format, their success was mostly due to their excellent defensive play. They allowed the second-fewest goals in the league at 2.52 goals-against per game, while their offense ranked 26th with 2.58 goals for per game.
The draft order is not set yet, but the Stars will likely be picking in the low to mid-20s. After the top 10 “elite” talents in the draft, there is a wide discrepancy between prospect rankings in the 11-30 range. The Stars may see a player like Hendrix Lapierre, whose draft stock has fallen due to injuries, be available to them. There is also a bevy of players who could go as high as 11th or fall to the late first round as this is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory and the Stars should be able to add a dynamic prospect to their pipeline with their first-round pick.
Stars’ Positional Needs
The Stars do not have a great farm system at the moment, but they have added high-end talent through the draft in recent years. Even though they have depth at center with Seguin, Hintz, and 2018 first-round pick Ty Dellandrea in the minors, management could choose a center if the opportunity presents itself as you can never have enough.
After the graduation of 2015 first-round pick Denis Gurianov, the Stars still have high-end wingers in the minors such as American Hockey League standout Jason Robertson and Ontario Hockey League star Tye Felhaber. Their defensive pipeline is weak outside of 2019 first-round pick Thomas Harley and they could use another high-ceiling defender in the system. The team’s goaltending future looks strong with Ben Bishop who looked elite during most of this season and with Jake Oettinger waiting in the wings. I expect the Stars will pass on a goalie in the first round even if Yaroslav Askarov is available, though I doubt he will be.
Therefore, here are the four prospects (two forwards and two defensemen) who might still be on the board when the Stars are on the clock that should be considered (in alphabetical order).
Mavrik Bourque, C
NHL North American Central Scouting Rank: 22
The Hockey Writers Top 400 in May: 21
Future Considerations: 18
The Shawinigan Cataractes star has dominated in the two seasons since being drafted third overall in the 2018 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) draft, with 54 points and 71 points, respectively.
He only played 49 games last season, 15 fewer than the year before, and still scored four more goals (29). The 5-foot-10, 165-pound center has been consistently rated in the top 30 and is one of the premiere two-way forwards in the draft. Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects had this to about Bourque in April:
“The type of player who sees the game a step ahead of most. A dual-threat offensive catalyst who thrives on the man-advantage. More strength and speed would be nice.”
Even though a move to the wing may be necessary given his frame and lack of strength, Bourque is still great at puck protection. His low center of gravity allows him to move around defenders with ease with his elite puck handling and edgework.
The skillset that stands out is his goal-scoring ability, as he has an excellent wrist and snap shot. The Stars will have their eyes on Bourque as he has all the tools to become a top-6 forward in the league.
Kaiden Guhle, LD
NHL North American Central Scouting Rank: 8
The Hockey Writers Top 400 in May: 24
Future Considerations: 28
Guhle seems to be one of the safer picks in the first round. He is excellent defensively and flashed his offensive abilities this season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) leading all defensemen in points with 40. At 6-foot-2, 185-pound, Guhle might be the best defensive defenseman in his draft class as he is strong on the boards, has superb gap control, and is disciplined in one-on-one plays. Brett Otten of McKeen’s Hockey had this to say about him in January:
“Big, physical blueliner who was a standout at the Top Prospect’s Game recently … He is the complete package who skates well, can play in all situations, and can lead the exit out of his own end.”
With few elite prospects on the blue line in their system, Guhle and Thomas Harley, the Stars’ top defensive prospect, could combine with Klingberg and Heiskanen to make a lethal top-four for the next 10 years. Guhle would look great opposite Klingberg and would complement him perfectly.
This would be the ideal pick for the Stars who like big, smart defensemen who can eat up minutes, and he compares stylistically to the St. Louis Blues’ Colton Parayko. He may not be available when the Stars are on the clock as one of those players who could be chosen in the first half or fall given the depth of this class.
Jan Mysak, LW
NHL North American Central Scouting Rank: 28
The Hockey Writers Top 400 in May: 14
Future Considerations: 15
The 17-year-old winger from the Hamilton Bulldogs has been playing in North America for less than a season. He opted to play in the top men’s Czech League for HC Litvinov at the start of the season. In its November 2019 NHL Draft preview, the analytics website scouching.ca had this to say about Mysak:
“Mysak is younger (than Rodion Amirov), but I think gets undervalued due to his team. Litvinov is not a great modern team, often valuing dumping and chasing pucks and appear to be a team plagued by innate panic. Mysak falls into those habits, but the talent is blatantly there for him to be something much more. He’s an effective member of the team, but I think he could be a very useful offensive piece. He’s just hard to get a read on when he gets so few good looks.”
Although he still needs to become more comfortable with the North American style of play, there is no denying his goal-scoring skillset with 15 goals and 25 points in 22 games for the Bulldogs. He has that goal-scoring touch, with a quick release and wrist shot, that NHL clubs look for.
He also has excellent vision, with and without the puck, which allows him to find holes in the defense that lead to scoring chances for him and his teammates. Like Guhle, he is one of those players who could go as high as 11th or fall to the Stars in the mid-20s. There is no chance that Mysak will fall past the Stars as they need high-ceiling goal-scorers in their system.
NHL North American Central Scouting Rank: 14
The Hockey Writers Top 400 in May: 27
Future Considerations: 49
The Stars love their big Scandinavian defensemen, with Swedish John Klingberg and Finn Miro Heiskanen as their core blueliners. The 18-year-old, 6-foot-4, 193-pound Wallinder played for MODO J20 in the SuperElit league this season and showed off his skills as a big puck-moving defenseman with excellent passing skills, especially off the rush. Jokke Nevalainen of Dobber Prospects had this to say about Wallinder in November:
“Wallinder is a big offensive defenseman with a left-handed shot. He loves to join the rush and get involved offensively. He’s an effortless skater with great speed and good hands which allows him to dangle through opposing players.”
Wallinder is different from Guhle in terms of his skill set, as the latter is s more developed defender with limited offensive potential and is the safer choice. Wallinder, even though he has the size, is raw in the defensive third, but flashes high-ceiling offensive ability, and is a high-risk/high-reward type of selection.
He has the upside of fellow Swedes Alex Edler (Vancouver Canucks) and Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) but will need a few years to make those developmental strides defensively to live up to those standards. Luckily, with a strong defensive presence on the NHL roster and with Harley already developing into a top-4 defenseman in the system, the Stars have time to let a mouth-watering player like Wallinder develop.
Will the Stars Align in Dallas?
The Stars have had a first-round pick in each of the last 11 drafts. That is a feat in itself, but only Heiskanen has developed into an All-Star caliber player. There are high expectations for Gurianov, but Radek Faksa, Jamie Oleksiak, and Julius Honka have developed into mere complementary players. The other first-round picks from those drafts are either no longer on the team, like Jack Campbell and Valeri Nichushkin, or are still developing like Dellandrea and Harley.
Related: Dallas Stars’ 50-Goal Scorers
Even with the uncertainty of the draft order, the Stars will land a potential core player for the franchise. A player like Guhle could fall to them and be too intriguing to pass up as a safe choice or they could take a player like Wallinder or Mysak who ooze star potential but are riskier choices. Whoever the Stars decide to take with their first-round pick, they will add much-needed depth to their pipeline, and hopefully, the stars will align in Dallas for them to get a future star.