It’s fair to say that the 2020 NHL draft probably won’t be held in a normal fashion. It may be held virtually, in June, as expected.
It might be delayed and held in person should the league decide to finish out the season in some yet to be determined fashion.
The Dallas Stars, however, have a limited number of picks; one 1st round pick and then nothing until the 4th round. It’s fairly well established that the value of draft picks drops precipitously by late in the first round, by the time the 4th round rolls around the chances of a player playing 200 games in the NHL is just 8%. One would hope therefore that they would maximize their 1st round pick choice.
If the season is canceled at this point the Stars will be picking at 22.
Even if the season resumes the draft order won’t change significantly unless they make it to the conference final and while we hope that is the case, we can assume for discussion sake that the Stars will pick somewhere in the range of 20-25.
Let’s look at some of the options.
Braden Schneider // Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL
Schneider is exactly the kind of player you could imagine the Stars drafting, 6’2’’ and 202lb at 18. Scouting reports suggest that he has the size and grit of an old fashioned defenseman. He is, however, noted to be a good skater who makes excellent decisions with the puck with the potential to develop a solid offensive upside. The Stars also have a lack of right shot defensive prospects in their system and Schneider could be a solid pick but he may well get drafted before the Stars chance comes around.
He’s currently ranked as high as 9th in the NHL Central Scouting list of North American skaters and as low as 46th by Elite Prospects. However, most projections currently have him going somewhere in the late teens to mid-twenties and we can assume that he will definitely be on the Stars radar.
Hendrix Lapierre // Chicoutimi – QMJHL
Lapierre is an elite playmaking center who shoots left and has been considered by some to have “the highest ceiling of any player projected to go in the first round” (Mike Morreale – NHL.com). He is considered to have great hockey sense, quick hands, and elite puck distribution abilities and has been a point per game player in the QMJHL.
There is some serious concern about his injury history however, he played only 19 games this season and was out of the lineup for extended periods of time with repeated concussions. This has caused him to fall from being a potential top 10 pick to being projected to go somewhere in the mid-twenties. Assuming he is able to overcome his injury history, a team could pick up a truly gifted player at a bargain position in the draft.
It is a big risk to take and one has to wonder if, given their experiences with Stephen Johns, it’s a risk the Stars are willing to take. Depending on the outlook from their medical staff a player like Lapierre could be a valuable pick-up.
Jan Mysak // Hamilton Bulldogs – OHL
At least two mock drafts (Bleacher Report and Tankathon) have the Stars taking Mysak. 17 year Mysak played the latter half of the 18-19 season and the first half of the 19-20 season against adults with Litvinov of the Czech Hockey League before transitioning to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL. He’s touted as one of the better recent prospects from the Czech Republic. A skilled left-shot center, he is projected as a middle to top-six forward.
You could see the Stars getting a forward somewhere in the Radek Faksa to David Pasternak range, which would certainly be a valuable draft selection. Although his skating is noted as not the most dynamic, the word which seems to be used most frequently in scouting reports is “smart”.
Several players from the Finnish Leagues including Roni Hirvonen (Assat) and Topi Niemela (Karpat) – another right-handed defenseman – are projected to go late in the first or early in the 2nd round. Miro Heiskanen was something of a no-brainer pick for the Stars in 2018 but the team has proven that they are better at scouting the Liiga than many other teams.
Esa Lindell (3rd round), Roope Hintz (2nd round), and John Klingberg (5th round) all having played in the Finnish system. It will be interesting to see, particularly given the young core of the Stars is more and more composed of the “Finnish Mafia”, whether that is a route they choose to go down.
With only a late first-round pick available the Stars have a difficult but critical decision. The consensus suggests that the players from 20-60 are closely clustered, while some teams will certainly have busts others could pick up the next NHL superstar.
Stars fans will be hoping it’s the latter.
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