The Dallas Stars will owe much of their future success to the Detroit Red Wings.
Stars general manager Jim Nill was an acolyte in Detroit as the assistant general manager before heading south to Dallas. Several of his main Stars confidants, including draft guru Joe McDonnell, spent time in the Detroit system and “over-ripened” as executives before stepping into bigger roles with the Stars.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Dallas has adopted the old Detroit style at the draft, and put it into place this past weekend.
Detroit hasn’t had a top-10 pick since Martin Lapointe was selected 10th overall in 1991. Since that day Detroit has consistently drafted late in the first round and committed to drafting longer-term projects with high potential, many of which came from Europe, while understanding the draft is meant to build for three of four years from now — not tomorrow.
That’s how Dallas Stars fans should look at the 2016 draft class, which consisted of six selections.
First-round pick Riley Tufte is a behemoth at 6’5″ and 205 pounds, but will need at least three years of college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He’ll be given time to grow into his body, and won’t be forced to make an early jump.
Forward Rhett Gardner (fourth round, 116th overall) and goalie Colton Point (fifth round, 128th overall) will also have time to germinate in the college ranks.
Gardner just finished his freshman season at North Dakota and is already entrenched in a winning atmosphere in Grand Forks. He has good size and decent hands, and he’s built to eventually be captain or assistant captain with North Dakota over the next three seasons — similar to current Stars forward Curtis McKenzie at Miami.
Point is an 18-year-old goalie that will enroll at Colgate this fall. Goalies are far from an exact science, but Point will have the benefit of a patient system. He’ll be able to use his collegiate experience to add to his 6’4″, 220-pound frame and he’ll be given an opportunity to play key minutes in college.
Frederik Karlstrom (third round, 90th overall) and Jakob Stenqvist (sixth round, 176th overall) each spent the majority of their time at the junior level in Sweden. Both have raw tools that can develop in Europe, while the Stars have trust that their European scouts will keep proper tabs on their progress before making the call to bring them over to North America.
The Stars lone pick from the major junior ranks will also require a patient approach. Nicholas Caamano (fifth Round, 146th overall) is only 17 and went through a difficult situation this past season with the Flint Firebirds. Caamano will have at least three seasons of junior hockey, and is another player that will pick up valuable leadership skills before he eventually joins Dallas’ minor-league system.
Dallas is already built around a young core, and the Stars are coming off a regular season that consisted of the Western Conference’s best record, so there isn’t a rush for recently-selected prospects.
It’s similar look to Detroit in the early 1990s, and Nill has four Stanley Cup rings (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008) to prove that patience is a winning virtue.