The Dallas Stars hosted the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft today and didn’t skimp on the showmanship. A Draft Fan Fest, which started at noon in Victory Plaza outside the American Airlines Center, boasted photo ops with the Stanley Cup, autograph sessions with former and current Dallas Stars, and a lineup of country music artists to serenade the crowd. The draft has always been an opportunity for franchises to show the NHL at large what their city and their organization has to offer. Considered a “non-traditional hockey market,” Dallas is a city more often associated with a certain NFL franchise than their NHL team, but this weekend Victory Green reigns supreme. Stars fans filled the stadium and brought energy to the proceedings, which can become tedious without insider knowledge. The rambunctious crowd booed Gary Bettman until the very last draft pick of the evening – impressing even him.
A tribute video for the Humboldt Broncos displayed classy foresight from the Stars media team. The Broncos were honored with the E.J. McGuire award with team president Kevin Garinger accepting. His touching speech received a standing ovation from the crowd in AAC. Unfortunately, crossed wires led to the AAC crowd booing Gary Bettman as he prepared to announce the award. The crowd quickly quieted as Bettman said, “We have some important business to discuss in regards to Humboldt. After that, feel free to boo me all you want.”
Jamie Benn and Mike Modano announced the Stars’ 13th overall selection of Ty Dellandrea from the Flint Firebirds. The two bantered playfully about Benn’s 5th round selection back in 2007 and Modano’s 1999 cup win. Meanwhile Dellandrea quietly made history as the first Flint Firebird to ever be selected in the first round of an NHL draft.
Though it may be hard to beat Benn and Modano, Dallas wasn’t the only team with special guests. In a celebration of Texas hockey, the Columbus Blue Jackets had Seth Jones (a native of Arlington, TX) announce their 18th overall pick, Liam Foudy. Despite his rival jersey, Jones received a hearty welcome.
Though no blockbuster trades rocked the first round, the Ottawa Senators swapped their 22nd overall pick with the New York Rangers’ 26th and 48th pick. The Toronto Maple Leafs followed this up with their own trade, giving the St. Louis Blues the 25th pick in return for the 29th and the 76th.
A shocking series of selections left centerman Joseph Veleno, who NHL.com ranked 8th out of all North American prospects, in the cold until the Detroit Red Wings picked him up 30th overall in the second to last selection of the evening. Though a smoothly run operation, 2018’s first round was far from cookie cutter. Veleno had been speculated as a good option for Dallas if he wasn’t selected earlier in the evening. But even with Veleno on the table, Dallas still chose Dellandrea. Only time can validate a selection and hopefully Dallas fares well.
Dallas Sports Nation will be live-tweeting tomorrow’s draft day over @StarsNationDAL. We’ll be updating our Facebook and SnapChat (DALSPORTSNATION) as well to keep our followers informed on all things NHL Draft. Make sure to check in for the latest.
Photo: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports