The NHL Entry Draft will be held in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, June 27th and Saturday, June 28th. StarsInsider.com will be live from the draft floor bring you the breaking news and interviews first and leading up to the draft, we will be previewing the prospects that the Dallas Stars could potentially pick at their current spot of 14. Of course, the draft is a fluid event and there are unforeseen events like trades and surprise picks that could effect these previews, so it's important to note that the players we preview in these pieces are based on no teams moving up or down.
The Stars in previous years have shown quite the admiration for WHL players. Brenden Morrow, Jamie Benn and Brenden Dillon were highly scouted by the Stars and all have left their marks in Stars history and the latter two have many more blank pages to fill. So, it should come to no surprise if the Stars have Calgary Hitmen forward, Jake Virtanen penciled in as their pick in the 14th spot of the NHL Draft. The 17 year old from Abbotsford, British Columbia is a 6'1" 210 pound right-handed left winger who some have deemed the "only true power forward in this year's draft."
In slightly more than 2 seasons with the Calgary Hitmen (played 9 games in 2011-12) Virtanen has played in 142 games and registered 109 points and 171 penalty minutes. Perhaps the best key to Jake's game is his speed. He won the 30 meters both forward and backwards at the CHL Top Prospect game. Not only is his speed well above average, but his agility and balance makes him a very difficult individual to clear out of the crease or in the corners when chasing loose pucks.
The former number one overall pick of the Western Hockey League draft in 2011 will be no stranger to the lights and attention next week. For the Stars, this maturity could add to his attractiveness. With the likelihood of Vern Fiddler heading for free agency, the Stars will be keeping an eye out for a young player who is not only mature, but can be a leader out on the ice with his actions and not just a "rah-rah" kind of guy, much the same way Fidds was.
With the likes of Brett Ritchie and Curtis McKenzie in the wings down in Cedar Park, someone like Virtanen would be several years away from seeing consistent playing time in Dallas. Perhaps someone of that development status might be reaching a little high with the 14th pick, but there are several publications that have him going in the top-10. If Jake falls to 14, look for the Stars to act in the same demeanor as they did last year when Valeri Nichushkin was available at 10. If Virtanen is available at 14, he could easily be the best player available at that time, and that's a great problem to have.