After a heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Dallas Stars went into the draft looking for players who will make a difference. Dallas appears to be taking a gamble on highly-skilled goal-scorers, hoping it will translate into the NHL style of play. With the 30th overall pick in the first round, the Stars chose to take forward Mavrik Bourque.
Dallas traded away their second and third-round picks in earlier deals, so their next selection didn’t come until the fourth round, selecting forward Antonio Stranges at No. 123. Forward Daniel Ljungman was selected at No. 154 in the fifth round and took forward Yevgeni Oksentyuk in the sixth with the 162nd overall pick. The only player they didn’t take at the forward position was with their last pick at No. 185 in the sixth round, when they selected goaltender Remi Poirier.
The Stars’ choices in the draft show they are comfortable taking chances on players with high scoring potential. If the goal is to continue to make the playoffs and eventually bring home the cup, these players may subsequently end up with their name engraved on it.
Borque is a deceptively speedy player who utilizes his creativity and vision to his opponents’ disadvantage. He accrued 71 points over 49 games in the 2019-20 season for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was on pace to be one of the top scorers until he sustained a wrist injury. He’s a forward with good hockey IQ, playmaking ability, puck skill, and offensive creativity. The Stars have been lacking that creativity for a while, so it’s easy to see why they chose him in the first round. Despite being a project, if he continues to improve he will have been a steal at No. 30.
Stranges has played two seasons with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and acquired 40 points over 61 games. Though those stats were not a significant improvement over his rookie season with London, he is still an expert stickhandler, reliable, and creates scoring chances. He is a player to take a chance on for his skill alone, yet his skating ability offers glimpses of elite ability. The question will be whether he can improve those skills and translate them into the next level. The Stars are taking some risk on those bright flashes of greatness, but if they pay off Stranges will be a force to be reckoned with.
Ljungman is a two-way center for Sweden’s Linkoping HC J20 team, putting up 23 points in 40 games during the 2019-20 season. The stats are disappointing for such a promising forward and there is still a lot of work to be done. His lack of scoring can be partially attributed to his skating skills. It is an area that needs improvement (along with his decision-making skills), that would eventually make him a great player when combined with his wrist shot. The Stars seem to be taking a gamble, betting on Ljungman’s ceiling in the future being high.
After not being drafted last year in the NHL, Oksentyuk was drafted No. 5 by the Flint Firebirds in the 2019 CHL Import Draft. He scored 78 points in 58 games with Flint and then scored seven points in five tournament games for Belarus at the D1A IIHF World Junior Championship. He can get around defenders with his edgework and agility and has the skills to control the puck well when moving at high speeds. His high hockey IQ and playmaking ability have translated into plenty of scoring opportunities, which is something the Stars desperately need. Oksentyuk’s defensive skills are a work in progress, and the Stars will need to see him be more consistent in his own end. If he’s open to coaching, the Stars will have an amazing offensive player that fans are sure to love.
Poirier is the starting goalie for the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL, and for the 2019-20 season, he had a 3.49 goals against average and a .900 save percentage over 19 wins. His stats for this past season may not be all that impressive, but it makes sense once you take into consideration that Gatineau was one of the worst teams in the QMJHL last season. For his current season with Gatineau, he’s off to a good start with a 2.59 goals against average and a .934 save percentage.
It will be interesting to see if any of the players can improve and make the leap to the pros. The Stars are taking a chance that will pay off down the road and sustain them through many postseasons to come.
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