Jerry Seinfeld said it best when it came to rooting for your favorite teams:
Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify. Because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city, you’re actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You know what I mean, you are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt, they “hate” him now. Boo! Different shirt!! Boo.
So, just who are these people that the Dallas Stars deemed “good enough to wear our laundry?” Much has been said and documented about the journey the Stars 13th pick, Radek Faksa has taken to live out his dreams of playing in the NHL one day. But what about the rest of the draftees? Who are they? Where do they come from?
Ludvig Bystrom, 43rd pick in the 2nd round (@LuddeBystrom)
Bystrom (not a prototype of Pittsburgh Penguins head coach, Dan Bylsma and Stars winger, Eric Nystrom) is a defenseman for MODO in the Swedish league. In 34 games for the U20 team, he scored 7 goals and added 22 assists. His 101 penalty minutes can mean that either he’s overly aggressive or he’s incredibly physical. The notes that have been compiled by NHL scouts points to the latter as he was ranked eighth among European skaters and has been called smart with the puck and always in good position and plays without fear of getting “dirty.”
Mike Winther, 54th pick in the 2nd round (@Winzer15)
This was the pick that accompanied former Washington Capitals center, Cody Eakins (@CodyEakin50) in the trade that saw Mike Ribeiro being sent to the nation’s capital. Winther is also a center and he plays with Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL (the same team that another Stars center made the first step in an illustrious career, whom went by the name Mike Modano). First aspect of Winther’s game I noticed is that he’s a right shot (I think the Stars may have two righties). In 132 games with the Raiders, Mike has 41 goals, 25 assists with a minus-20 rating for a very poor team.
TSN’s Craig Button (former Stars director of player personnel) had Mike rated as the best draft eligible forward coming out of the WHL. His knack for scoring clutch goals is evident in his four shorthanded and four game winning goals last season. He’s small when comparing other top-notch forwards, but he will continue to grow and his fast, quick hands will only get better.
Devin Shore, 61st pick in the third round (@devinshore)
Committed to the University of Maine, Shore’s best traits rest inside his helmet. Many scouts say that his vision, passing and smarts are some of the best in the draft and he still possess the ability to finish plays around the net. Ranked the 58th North American skater in the draft, Devin has the size to play professional center and in 41 regular season games with Canada East in the U19 World Junior A Challenge, netted 29 goals, helped on 29 others and only had 26 penalty minutes.
Esa Lindell, 74th pick in the fourth round
This is where the information starts to get limited as many of the mainstream scouts don’t view players this deep and it usually falls into the hands of team scouts located in the player’s home area. Lindell, a defenseman for Jokerit last year won the Jr. A SM_Liiga award for most goals, assists and points by a defenseman with 21-30-51. In 48 games, he was a +24 and added another 7 points in 11 playoff games. He’s a play-maker who needs to see his skating and decision making improve before the next level.
Gemel Smith, 104th pick in the fifth round
Smith is the last of four centers drafted by the Stars. In 68 games with Owen Sound, he scored 21 goals and 39 assists while posting a plus-9 rating. His two-way play fits well in the ideals of the Stars’ system, but his size is a concern which is softened by his heart and determination.
Branden Troock, 134th pick in the fifth round (@BTroock)
Branden is a right winger who missed all of the 2010-2011 season with a neck injury similar to that of Sidney Crosby. Last year in his return, he played in 58 games and notched 26 points (14G and 12A). Many said that in the start of the season, he was timid with the puck, which could be expected of a player coming back from a serious injury. He was tied for first in the pull test at the NHL combine so his strength is the best of all combine draftees. He has a good mix of size, speed and talent but it’s his determination and hard work that brought him back from his injury that caught the eye of the Stars.
Henri Kiviaho, 144th in the sixth round
Henri is a goalie from Finland and this has Mike Valley’s name all over this pick. After adding Cristopher Nihlstorp and drafting Kiviaho, look for Henri to stay in Europe to look to improve on his skills that saw him post a 2.78 GAA in 28 regular season games and an escalated 4.04 GAA in just 9 playoff games.
Dmitry Sinitsyn, 183rd in the seventh round
Sinitsyn is a defenseman who played two seasons with the Dallas Stars U16 team in the midget category who in 93 games scored 35 goals and 48 assists. Sinitsyn is committed to attend school at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
It is often said that a team’s success in the draft can only be judged in two to five years after the draft takes place. The players are often in their first, maybe second year in either junior or collegiate hockey, so how they will translate in the pro ranks will take some time to develop, but make no doubt about it, the Stars front office made a statement to not only the league but to their fans as well. There are needs on this team that needed to be addressed to return to the playoffs and those needs have been addressed, at least for now.