The Dallas stars were one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL last season and will continue to be a prolific offensive team with a core of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp in place. The knock on Dallas was their goals against and that was what cost them a playoff spot.
The prospect pool in big D is ripe with young defensemen who will compete to crack their NHL roster. Johnny Oduya was added via free agency to a top four which now consists of Alex Goligoski, John Klingberg, and Jason Demers.
Recently graduated prospects Patrick Nemeth, Jordie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka will try to hold onto the bottom pairing, but will be hard pressed to fend of some of the up and coming talent.
1. Julius Honka: Defence – 5’11” / 185 lbs
Drafted 14th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Stars.
Honka was able to make the transition and turn pro last season as a 19-year old and had an impressive rookie season in Texas scoring 31 points in 68 games. While he is small by NHL standards, his offensive skills and efficiency on the power play should translate to the NHL level. He has a tendency to make poor decisions in the defensive zone without the puck and his lack of size can be a hindrance in clearing the crease. His minus -10 rating may lend Dallas to allow him further seasoning while playing lots of minutes in Texas, as there is no need to rush him given the wealth of prospects Dallas boasts on the blueline.
An excellent offensive defenseman, Honka is great with the puck and can really start a rush the right way. He’s never going to plow guys under with his frame, but Honka is good at using his stick to defend. – Ryan Kennedy THN
2. Denis Guryanov: Right Wing – 6’2” / 192 lbs
Drafted 12th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Stars.
Guryanov was perhaps the most underrated prospect heading into the 2015 draft. He has blazing speed, good size, and sublime offensive skills. Some scouts believed he should have ranked as high as top five along with name like Mitch Marner and Dylan Strome, and if he had played in the CHL last year he would not have been available to Dallas at 12. He was impressive with Russia in the U18 WJC, scoring six goals and an assist in five games, and should be a lock for the Russian WJC team this year where he could be a standout. He is scheduled to turn pro playing in the KHL this season with Lada.
A highly skilled forward who intimidates with his speed and proficient puckhandling ability, Denis Guryanov may have one of the highest ceilings as a forward prospect for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Very strong on his skates and uses his size to protect the puck well. Drives the net hard and knows where he will shoot before he is even in a position to do so. Possesses a heavy and accurate release on his shot, which he likes to get off near the faceoff dots; if he can’t shoot from there, he will either dangle or bull his way through to the blue paint. While he is proactive and aware defensively, he still needs to work on consistency in his own end. All-in-all, a dynamic offensive threat that has room to grow defensively – Elite Prospects
3. Stephen Johns: Defence – 6’3” / 229 lbs
Drafted: 60th overall in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Blackhawks
Acquired: Chicago traded Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns to Dallas for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbut.
Known primarily as a physical shut-down defender who is nasty and tough to play against, Johns has also demonstrated his offensive ability in his rookie season in the AHL scoring 21 points in 51 games, with an impressive +30 rating. He improved his performance in the playoffs scoring three goals and four assists in eight games while posting a +4 rating. Johns will see some time in the NHL, but will likely see the bulk of his time in the AHL with Texas.
Johns is a big stay-at-home defenseman with good character. Johns’ best asset is his ability to dole out punishment through the physical game, though he does lose defensive positioning at times looking for the big hit. Though he may not project as much of a scorer at the pro level, Johns can deliver hard, accurate passes on the breakout and is not shy about taking shots from the blue line to get the puck to the front of the net. – Hockeys Future
4. Esa Lindell: Defence – 6’3” / 210 lbs
Drafted 74th overall in third round of the 2012 draft by the Stars.
Lindell is a relatively unknown player in North America, but Stars GM Jim Nill is very high on Lindell, and has high expectations on the big Finish defenceman for his North American debut this season. Lindell had a breakout season in Finland playing with Assat where he scored 14 goals and 21 assists in 57 games. Lindell was also very impressive for Finland at the World Championship playing against NHL talent and scoring a goal and five assists in eight games. He eventually made his debut in the final five games for Texas in the AHL and picked up his first point, an assist. He will play the upcoming season with Texas where he will battle for a top pairing.
He skates well for a big man. He’s a big heavy body. He makes a good first pass. He’s just a good, solid all-around player,” Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said. “He’s had a great season in Finland. He was one of the leading scoring defensemen. For a 20-year-old to play in the Finnish Elite League and be one of the top defensemen, you are doing something right.” – Dallas Stars
5. Jason Dickinson: Centre/Left Wing – 6’2” / 191 lbs
Drafted 29th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Stars.
Dickinson is a promising prospect. He was a prolific scorer with Guelph in his OHL career and was the engine behind their Memorial Cup run. He has good size and two-way potential, which should translate well to a depth scoring line option in the NHL in the future. Like many developing prospects, he will need to improve his strength, skating, and consistency, but those are all very correctable deficiencies which he should be able to iron out in time with some AHL seasoning.
Like Columbus, the Stars had a stacked top-six and Dickinson roved the ice with great intent. His combination of size, speed and skill is difficult to contain. – Ryan Kennedy THN
6. Remi Elie: Left Wing – 6’1 / 202 lbs
Drafted: 40th overall in second round of the 2013 draft by the Stars.
A mid-season trade from Belleville to Erie helped Elie immensely as he was insulated with better talent and his offense jumped to a point and a half per game with the Otters. Elie also gained some valuable playoff experience and managed to score 24 points in 20 games along the way. He plays a power forward game and has developed a solid defensive game. Elie will have to show he can compete physically in the AHL and that his improved offence will also translate to the pro level. Some players score more and are more effective at the pro level than in junior – Elie could be such a player.
“We like where he’s come from. He’s taken his game to another level,” Nill said. “You’ve seen every development camp here. First development camp they are young kids trying to figure it out. Second camp he was better. I think this last one he was like a man out there. Remi has gotten stronger. I’m amazed at the size of his trunk, and his legs are just huge. He’s a great example of why you love the business. To see guys get better. They are a sponge, and they figure it out. He’s done that. He’s grabbed that.” – Dallas Stars
7. Brett Pollock: Left Wing – 6’3” /194 lbs
Drafted: 45th overall in second round of the 2014 draft by the Stars.
Pollock was an important player for the Edmonton Oil Kings in their Memorial Cup Championship run, scoring 19 points in their 21 playoff games in his draft year. Following that Championship season, his role increased as several players graduated and he responded with 62 points in 70 games and was a point per game player in their first round defeat in the playoffs. With one more year of junior eligibility, he will return to the WHL and should compete for a roster spot on team Canada for the World Juniors.
Pollock is a big forward who does everything pretty well, but nothing elite. He is an average skater with short strides, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from getting to his offensive position. Can get a little behind the play when he is pinned down low, and currently does not have the speed to catch up and cover his defensive responsibility. – Future Considerations
8. Radek Faksa: Centre – 6’3” / 210 lbs
Drafted 13th overall in the first round of 2012 draft by the Stars.
Faksa made the transition to pro in the AHL last season and only managed to score ten points in 32 games before a shoulder injury ended his season. With two significant injuries in the past three years, he is slipping down the depth chart as his development has been sluggish. His offensive ability in the pro level is in doubt, but his size and two-way ability still makes him a viable bottom six option. He needs a strong season with Texas.
The one prospect that really and truly stood out to me was Radek Faksa, the first round pick from 2012 whose stock had dropped a bit since then. While the focus is always on how flashy the offense from a center can be, or their overall production, Faksa shows how a focus on the two-way game can also take a player to another level. His game is complete up and down the ice, he has the size and strength to play in the NHL and he’s incredibly smooth with the puck — and smart with it as well. Very intelligent, and showed all the promise we saw last season in the AHL playoffs. – Brandon Worley SB Nation
9. Devin Shore: Centre – 6’1” / 185 lbs
Drafted: 61st overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Stars.
Shore made strides in 2014, being named to the HE First Team All-Star and finished this season in the pros playing 19 games in Texas. His pro debut was underwhelming with six points in 19 games, but his playmaking skills are impressive and he provides nice size, two-way skill and can be aggressive as well. He will look to raise his stock at training camp before returning to the AHL for more development time.
Shore is a talented playmaker with very good vision that can score goals in bunches. His best asset is his hockey sense. He has a terrific feel for the game and can process the happenings on the rink quickly and accurately. Unsurprisingly, he is a crisp playmaker who can quarterback a power play adeptly. His skating stride lacks a lot of polish and his shot is not overpowering. He has average size but has added some bulk and strength during his college career. His defensive and positional game is still evolving and could be more consistent. – Hockeys Future
10. Philippe Desrosiers: Goalie – 6’1” / 182 lbs
Drafted: 54th overall in the second round draft of the 2013 draft by the Stars.
Jack Campbell being drafted with the 11th overall pick in 2010 would suggest he commands a higher ranking, but his record says otherwise. Campbell has just not impressed while Desrosiers has had much more success. He was the Canadian Major Junior Goaltender of the Year winner this past season on the strength of his 29-9 record and five shutouts, with a GAA of 2.5 and a save% of .901 with Rimouski. Desrosiers will turn pro this season and could quite possibly usurp Campbell as the starting goalie in Texas. Desrosiers represents the best option in goal for Dallas in the future at this time.
Desrosiers’ most obvious attribute is his puckhandling. He goes at it Marty Brodeur-style and though the quicker pace of the tourney sometimes made for close calls, it was still a strength. The big netminder also tracks the puck pretty well in traffic. – Ryan Kennedy THN
Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.
Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling