In case you need to be caught up, the Dallas Stars went to the 2020 Stanley Cup final and have made the playoffs in three of the past four years.
That generally means that a team's prospect pool has taken a hit but because of some deft drafting, the Stars have quietly built one of the more intriguing pools of prospects in the league.
The Stars might not have a boatload of “sure things” as far as prospects go. Still, if they can hit on a couple of the swings like cerebral offensive defenseman Christian Kyrou or electric attacking winger Aryton Martino, they could look like geniuses. They clearly bank on upside with their picks, especially outside of round one.
Wyatt Johnston was their first-round pick in the 2021 draft and while some questioned it at the time, his MVP season in the OHL made Dallas' scouting department look like geniuses. Johnston is a highly skilled center who plays with speed and shiftiness. He was one of the OHL’s most consistent offensive play drivers on any team and was one of the only consistent presences on an inconsistent Windsor team through the first half of the year.
Logan Stankoven would have been a top-20 pick if he was a couple of inches taller, but the 5-foot-8 forward plays with incredible pace and speed to go with his wicked shot and impressive puck skill. He doesn’t play like a smaller player, consistently attacking the inside lanes and forcing his will on opponents. Stankoven is one of the most driven players in junior hockey and has all of the traits to overcome his size.
The Stars’ backend is a bit less impressive but recent first-round pick Lian Bichsel is an impressive defensive presence who loves to crush opponents along the boards and make a clean and efficient breakout pass. Jack Bar is an incredibly toolsy defender who has a great shot and a willingness to take space given to him offensively. He has some work to do defensively, but he positions himself well and uses his instincts to turn defense into offense when the opportunity arises. Artyom Grushnikov is another defender who engages defensively with his puck disrupting anticipation and his body punishing physicality.
Jake Oettinger looks to be the future in net, but Adam Scheel, Rémi Poirier, and the newly drafted Maxim Mayorov are all good prospects in net. They have done a good job of scouting and developing netminders so getting at least one NHLer out of this group isn’t out of the question.
2022 NHL Draft Class
Round 1 (18 Overall) - Lian Bichsel, D, Leksands IF (SHL) Round 2 (50 Overall) - Christian Kyrou, D, Erie Otters (OHL)
Round 3 (83 Overall) - George Fegaras, D, North York Rangers (OJHL)
Round 4 (115 Overall) - Gavin White, D, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Round 5 (147 Overall) - Maxim Mayorov, G, Ladia Togliatti (MHL)
Round 6 (179 Overall) - Matthew Seminoff, R, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Dallas needed to add depth to their defensive pool - a point of focus for them in this draft class - and Bichsel was a very good addition to kick things off. A defensively stout blueliner who will finish with his body and thwart opposing offensive chances before they start, Bichsel was regarded as one of the best defense-first blueliners in the class. His puck skill began to show itself more and more as the year wore on. Still, he will likely lean defensively at the next level, providing an excellent foil to an offensively minded defenseman in the Stars' future top four.
Christian Kyrou very well could be that offensively minded blueliner down the line. He has some of the most cerebral offensive execution and thinking in the draft class from the back end but doesn’t have the mobility to pull it off all the time. If he can improve his skating ability, there could be some value for the Stars who need young blood to help fill out their blueline. George Fregaras could be in that same vein, too. He has solid puck-moving ability, with passes that hit forwards in motion in transition and playmaking from the blueline that impressed but yet again, skating is an issue. He will be going to the USHL next season and then Cornell University after that, so there's a long development path ahead that could be perfect for Fegaras.
Maxim Mayorov boasted a .931 save percentage in the Russian junior league this year, good for fifth among all netminders with more than 20 games played, while playing on a fairly mediocre team that missed the playoffs. He has excellent rebound control and moves well in his crease. He could be a stel later in the draft.
Predicted to go much higher, Matthew Seminoff is a winger who has some big boom-or-bust potential. He is an excellent shooter and skilled passer but his skating is more than one or two steps away from pro hockey. If he can work on his skating and at least get it to average, he could be the steal of the draft. If he can’t, then it was thankfully just a sixth-round flyer.
The center position is incredibly strong for the Stars moving forward. In all honesty, there will likely be a couple of their center prospects that move to the wing but having that option is a solid spot to be in. Wyatt Johnston had a massive year in the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires, winning the OHL’s scoring title and most outstanding player award and then lead the league in playoff scoring as well. Mavrik Bourque is an incredibly skilled playmaker who helped lead his QMJHL squad to a Memorial Cup berth. Bourque is manipulative and deceptive, making him one of the Stars most exciting young prospects moving forward.
Logan Stankoven is often listed as a center and has played it the majority of his junior career but might be the odd man out to land on the wing but the pace and dual-threat offensive game he plays with could excel down the middle. Ty Dellandrea could be the ideal middle-six center who can play a solid two-way game while chipping in offensively playing behind Bourque and/or Johnston.
The future down the middle looks good in Dallas.
The Stars have quietly built up a quality prospect pool, so they don’t have any glaring weak points but beyond their recent first-round pick, Bichsel, they are lacking sure things on the back end. Bar and Grushnikov are solid prospects, but they could wind up being average third-pairing defenders who don’t bring a ton offensively and just hold their own defensively. Kyrou is an offensively skilled player but his skating is a big question mark and his defensive game needs work. They focused on adding depth to their defensive pipeline with their first four picks in the 2022 draft all coming on the back end but still lack a depth of sure-fire NHLers.
Next Man Up: C/W Ty Dellandrea
One of the rare exceptions to the rule of rookie eligibility in this series, Dellandrea played all but one game last year in the AHL despite getting into 26 games with Dallas the year prior. Dellandrea looked overwhelmed in his NHL stint two years ago, so the Stars had him take the full year in the AHL to acclimate himself to pro hockey further. Dellandrea isn’t going to be a top-tier scorer, but he plays a sound 200-foot game and works hard all over the ice.
Slated to battle for a role in the bottom-six, Dellandrea was a solid contributor in the AHL last year with 23 goals and 50 points in 68 games. He is positionally versatile and can play on the penalty kill as well, meaning he could bring an element to the Stars roster that so few teams have in a young player. Just turning 22 years old, Dellandrea isn’t at the end of his prospect timeline by any means, but it is getting to put up or shut up time for the 13th overall pick from the 2018 NHL draft.
Prospect Depth Chart Notables
LW: Antonio Stranges, Aryton Martino, Connor Roulette
C: Wyatt Johnston, Mavrik Bourque, Ty Dellandrea
RW: Logan Stankoven, Matthew Seminoff, Albert Sjöberg
LD: Lian Bichsel, Artyom Grushnikov
RD: Jack Bar, Christian Kyrou, George Fegaras
G: Adam Scheel, Maxim Mayorov, Rémi Poirier
For a deeper dive into the prospect pool with player rankings, check out the Yearbook and Future Watch editions of the Hockey News print edition!