Team Recaps: Dallas Stars
Steve Kournianos | 11/12/2020 | Nashville | [hupso]
There’s little joy to be found during the painstaking process of analyzing the draft trends of 31 teams, but every so often there’s at least one team that makes you realize you might be onto something concrete. The Stars were one of several clubs assessed as having a thin group of forward prospects, so it made perfect sense to link them to several high-profile centers who likely would be available near the end of the first round. The result? A Stanley Cup Finals appearance that dropped them all the way to pick No. 30 and some draft-day luck that allowed a super-skilled pivot like QMJHL’er Mavrik Bourque (pictured) to fall right into their laps. Although the Stars only had four selections on Day 2 and none in Rounds 2 or 3, their fixation on forwards produced commendable results, beginning with flashy London Knights’ winger Antonio Stranges at 123rd and closing out with goal-scoring Swedish center Daniel Ljungman and energetic overage scorer Yevgeni Oksentyuk. All four of their forward picks have legitimate skills that help them produce points in bunches.
Dallas used its last pick on QMJHL goalie Remi Poirier, who was the first netminder they’ve drafted since 2017. They also refrained from taking a defenseman for the first time since the infamous Scott Glennie draft year of 2009; a likelihood that was considered since the Stars used three of their four picks in 2019 on blueliners. They may not have an abundance of blue-chip talent, but the Dallas farm system looks more balanced position by position than a handful of teams with flashier names in their pool.
Mavrik Bourque, Center (30th overall)
The Stars deserve credit for landing one of the better playmaking centers in the draft, and most certainly among those available at pick No. 30. Although it’s been a while since Dallas went for pure skill at the center position this early in the draft, Bourque’s work ethic and competitiveness when he’s not controlling the puck should quickly reassure Stars fans that he’s probably going to last longer than cult-hero Scott Glennie (look it up). Don’t look now, but Dallas and it’s once-downtrodden prospect pool is picking up the pace in stocking its cupboard with high-value items.
Antonio Stranges, Left Wing (123rd overall)
Once considered a potential top-15 pick, Stranges was fighting it most of his draft season and ended up slipping down London’s depth chart. Naturally, the decrease in responsibility led to a drop in most rankings, but Stranges still showcased high-end skill on the puck, albeit in spurts rather than consistently. He’s definitely a one-way forward who thinks offense all the time, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing, especially if he’s able to light up the OHL next season as a top liner for Dale Hunter’s Knights. Overall, Stranges is a good gamble to take in the fourth round, but it’s imperative that he refines his overall game and becomes a team leader next season.
Daniel Ljungman, Center (154th overall)
I had Ljungman rated a lot higher (78th) than where he ended up going, so I obviously have no problem with the Stars grabbing him late in Round 5. He’s got good size by 2020 standards (6-foot-1, 176 pounds, according to the official J20 site), and he’s already off to a fantastic start with Linkoping’s junior club with 12 goals in his first 12 games. Add Ljungman to the growing list of Swedish two-way centers drafted by the Stars in the later rounds since 2015.
Yevgeni Oksentyuk, Left Wing (162nd overall)
One of the top rookie imports in all of Canadian major junior, the shifty Oksentyuk was a go-to forward for an upstart Flint team that improved over 40 points in the standings from the season prior. When operating in the cycle, it always seemed like it was Oksentyuk’s ridiculous balance and puck control that took the heaviest toll on opposing defensemen. He was one of my top overagers for the draft. Oksentyuk is expected to be back in Flint after returning from playing in the Belorussian elite league.
Remi Poirier, Goalie (185th overall)
I was getting a little worried that the Stars were going to make in three straight drafts without taking a goalie — something they hadn’t done in over 20 years. In Poirier, they get a long-term project who at this point already has a wide frame and ideal length (6-foot-2, 217 pounds). He just turned 19 and will be Gatineau’s No. 1 for a second straight year, so it’s not out of the question that Poirier will be in the AHL after this season. Stylistically, Poirier is conservative in the crease and crouches low in the butterfly to help him dominate the lower half, but his push-stop-recovery movements can vary from clunky to robotic to impact his ability to cover angles properly.