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August 2, 2013
Top 10 Prospects 2013
Dallas Stars

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Dallas Stars Top 10 Prospects

1. Valeri Nichushkin, Right Wing
2. Brett Ritchie, Right Wing
3. Jamie Oleksiak, Defense
4. Kevin Connauton, Defense
5. Radek Faksa, Center
6. Jason Dickinson, Center
7. Alex Chiasson, Right Wing
8. Emil Molin, Left Wing
9. Alex Guptill, Left Wing
10. Matej Stransky, Right Wing

Organizational Ranking: 8th

System Overview

Dallas has a well above-average farm system thanks to a star prospect in Valeri Nichushkin, a few very good ones like Brett Ritchie and Jamie Oleksiak, and quality depth. They do not have prospect quality that can go 20 players deep like some other top-10 systems, but their top 12-13 prospects are very strong. Dallas' pipeline has a combination of high-skill players, power forwards, and two-way players. Jack Campbell is a solid goalie prospect as well.

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1. Valeri Nichushkin, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 03/04/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 202
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 18 GP, 4 G, 6 P, 8:20 ATOI (Traktor, KHL)
Acquired: First round, 10th overall in 2013 by Dallas

Year in Review: Nichushkin bounced around between the MHL (junior), the VHL (minors), and the KHL, but he stayed in the KHL for the second half. He really shone in the KHL playoffs, getting a regular third line shift as Traktor went to the finals.

The Good: Nichushkin's physical abilities are tremendous. He is a big, strong winger with truly elite skating ability. His ability to put defensemen on their heels is second to none, as his first few steps are explosive. Opponents cannot keep him to the outside either, as he can power to the net easily. Nichushkin is also a highly skilled player who can dangle through defenders while making a lot of plays.

The Bad: Nichushkin can try to do too much on his own at times. He displays good vision, but the playmaking area of his game is inconsistent.

Projection: He could be an All-Star power winger.

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2. Brett Ritchie, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: 12th
Date of birth: 01/09/1994
Age: 20
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 215
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 53 GP, 41 G, 76 P (Niagara, OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 44th overall in 2011 by Dallas

Year in Review: Ritchie had one of the top breakout seasons of any NHL prospect. Ritchie has always possessed size and tools, but he had yet to put it all together. He did that last season.

The Good: Big, skilled power forwards are a scarce commodity that NHL teams covet, and Dallas may have that kind of player in Ritchie. He is a strong, 6'4'' winger with good hands and vision. He can make plays with either his offensive creativity or his power game. Ritchie protects the puck very well, and he can be a handful to deal with on the forecheck, as he hits hard, and he is a tough guy to match up against. He has a very good shot as well. He has improved his skating to the point where it is now average.

The Bad: Ritchie has no significant weaknesses, but he does possess a few areas he could work on. His consistency in terms of his reads and physical play has really improved, but he can still get a little lost in the play in spurts, as well as let up with his hitting. He also needs to continue to get stronger and fill out his frame.

Projection: He could be a below-average top line winger.

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3. Jamie Oleksiak, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 12/21/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'7''
Weight: 254
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 59 GP, 6 G, 33 P (Texas, AHL)
Acquired: First round, 14th overall in 2011 by Dallas

Year in Review: Oleksiak started off his first AHL season a little slowly, but he turned a corner around midseason, and he ended up having a strong campaign, including playing over 10 games in the NHL.

The Good: Oleksiak is a giant defenseman who uses his frame well and he has good tools for a player his size. He possesses solid speed with a powerful stride and well above-average mobility for a player who is 6'7''. His offensive game also started to round into form this season, as he showed good puck-moving ability. Oleksiak positions himself well in his own end, and he showed the ability to check good players at the AHL level.

The Bad: Oleksiak can still make the odd bad decision here and there, but on the whole, he has rounded out his game while addressing his issues.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defenseman, and he may even have top pairing ability.

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4. Kevin Connauton, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 4th (VAN)
Date of birth: 02/23/1990
Age: 23
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 200
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 69 GP, 9 G, 31 P (Chicago/Texas, AHL)
Acquired: Trade from Vancouver, third round, 83rd overall in 2009 by Vancouver

Year in Review: Connauton struggled with his defense early, but his play picked up around Christmas. His puck moving was solid all year.

The Good: Connauton is a gifted offensive defenseman. He skates really well, with NHL sources describing him as high end in that area. He also has above-average offensive skill. Connauton has a solid skill level to go along with good vision and a booming, accurate shot from the point. He can impact the game both on the rush and as a power play quarterback.

The Bad: Connauton's defensive coverage has been and continues to be an issue. He has shown progression in that area, but it remains questionable how well he will do with it in the NHL.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman who is good on the power play, but he might have to be a tad sheltered.

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5. Radek Faksa, Center
2011-12 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 01/09/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 203
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 39 GP, 9 G, 31 P (Kitchener, OHL)
Acquired: First round, 13th overall in 2012 by Dallas

Year in Review: Faksa had a subpar year. He disappointed scouts with his offensive ability, and he also suffered a knee injury.

The Good: Faksa is a good two-way thinker with advanced defensive skills for a U20 player. He takes his checks well, shows good strength and willingness in battles, and projects as a tough-minutes forward. He is also a quality playmaker who regularly makes above-average passes. Faksa is a good skater, especially for his size.

The Bad: Faksa's offensive creativity and pure upside are question marks. It was not that way at this time last year, but during 2012-13, scouts noted that he was not as involved on offense, and he did not show the natural ability to create chances like he did the year before.

Projection: He could be a second line center, but the chances he ends up as a third line player are increasing.

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6. Jason Dickinson, Center
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 07/04/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 179
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 66 GP, 18 G, 47 P (Guelph, OHL)
Acquired: First round, 29th overall in 2013 by Dallas

Year in Review: Dickinson was inconsistent throughout the season. He displayed signs of significant offensive potential, but also long lulls.

The Good: Dickinson is an above-average to plus skater with a good first few steps, and a quick, efficient stride. He is very agile, and he can also speed up the ice when needed. Dickinson has a high level of puck skills, as he is very coordinated and creative with the puck. He flashes good offensive instincts and he has a great release on his wrist shot.

The Bad: Dickinson's physical play can, at times, be a notable asset, but it is not always there. His offensive reads need work as well. Dickinson needs to bulk up a lot, and he needs to learn more about the defensive aspects of the game.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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7. Alex Chiasson, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 10/01/1990
Age: 22
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 206
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 57 GP, 13 G, 35 P (Texas, AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 38th overall in 2009 by Dallas

Year in Review: Chiasson suffered a couple of injuries in his rookie pro season. His play picked up around December, and he earned a brief call up to the NHL.

The Good: Chiasson is a skilled big man who protects the puck well with his 6'3'' frame, while displaying a solid amount of physicality. He has solid, if not above-average puck possession ability. Chiasson shows fine hand-eye coordination in tight. His decision making has shown significant improvements to the point where it is now a strength, as he reads the game at a fine level. He has a high-end shot as well.

The Bad: Chiasson's skating has come along, but he is still slightly below average in that regard. It is also questionable exactly how much offensive upside he has.

Projection: He could be a good third line power winger with a chance to play on a scoring line.

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8. Emil Molin, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 02/03/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 176
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 34 GP, 1 G, 3 P, 7:51 ATOI (Brynas, SEL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 105th overall in 2011 by Dallas

Year in Review: Molin was just average in league play, as he did not get much ice time with his SEL team. Internationally, he looked very impressive playing on a scoring line for Sweden's U20 teams.

The Good: Molin is a skilled offensive player, a forward that the offense can flow through. He is a great playmaker with a top-end offensive mind. He can see his options very effectively, and he can make difficult feeds, with the patience to wait out defensemen. He has flashy elements to his puck handling, as he can make defenders miss. Molin is also an above-average skater with quick feet and a decent top gear. He can flash high-end shooting skill, too. Molin can play center or wing.

The Bad: Molin is slightly undersized with a slight frame that needs bulk. He can be a little overfancy at times, but that is a nitpick at best. He needs to improve his defensive play as well, which is a combination of his lack of strength and positioning.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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9. Alex Guptill, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 03/03/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 180
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 38 GP, 16 G, 36 P (Univ. of Michigan, NCAA)
Acquired: Third round, 77th overall in 2010 by Dallas

Year in Review: Guptill took significant strides forward this year. He led Michigan in scoring, and he was a significant offensive force in the NCAA.

The Good: Guptill is a toolsy forward with a lot of elements to his game. He can skate and handle the puck at above-average levels. Guptill's first few steps are powerful, and with a decent power game, he can be tough to contain for defensemen. He is a creative forward with the offensive mind to be in on a lot of scoring chances. Guptill also has an above-average shot.

The Bad: Guptill's defense showed notable progression this year, but he could still use work in that area. He needs to gain a little more strength. He will make the odd bad decision as well.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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10. Matej Stransky, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 07/11/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 215
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 72 GP, 40 G, 85 P (Saskatoon, WHL)
Acquired: Sixth round, 165th overall in 2011 by Dallas

Year in Review: Stransky had another successful WHL season. He was co-leader on Saskatoon in scoring, and he ranked 12th in the WHL in goals.

The Good: Stransky is a skilled power forward. He has a big, physically-developed frame, and he can be a bull on the puck down low in the cycle. He also has a lot of creativity to add to his physical elements. Stransky has impressive hands and the offensive instincts to see plays develop and create opportunities. He has above-average vision, with the soft touch to execute nice saucer passes.

The Bad: Stransky's skating continues to be a problem, as he has a sluggish first few steps. His defense is also a work in progress.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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The Next Five

11. Ludwig Bystrom, Defense: He went through significant struggles this year, but at the peak of his game, Bystrom is a mobile player with great puck-moving skill. He needs to work on his decision making and defensive game.

12. Devin Shore, Center: Shore led Maine in scoring, displaying a very high level of offensive upside. He could be in for a big sophomore season.

13. Gemel Smith, Center: Smith is a very good skater, as he plays with a lot of energy, is physical, can defend, and has some skill, too. His future potential is intriguing, as he could fill a variety of roles.

14. Scott Glennie, Right Wing: He remains in the top 15 due to potential, but he has not shown a lot in the AHL. Mind you, he has been injured, but Glennie has not performed very well over last few seasons even when healthy.

15. Troy Vance, Defense: Vance is a toolsy, big defenseman. He is mobile and he can move the puck, but he is still raw and a work in progress.

The Sleeper: Niklas Hansson, Defense

Hansson skates at a solid level and he has a lot of offensive tools. He needs a lot of work on his defense, but his potential remains high.

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Dallas Stars Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2013 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Tyler Seguin, Center
2. Valeri Nichushkin, Right Wing
3. Brenden Dillon, Defense
4. Brett Ritchie, Right Wing
5. Cody Eakin, Center
6. Jamie Oleksiak, Defense
7. Kevin Connauton, Defense
8. Radek Faksa, Center
9. Jason Dickinson, Center
10. Alex Chiasson, Right Wing

Seguin has played on a very good Boston team, and he certainly is not a perfect player, but he is a year removed from being in the top 30 in NHL scoring. He is a dynamic skater, puck handler, and distributor, with the ability to be a star in the league for many years. Dillon was one of the best rookies in the NHL last season, as he displayed significant ability in a tough role. He does not have high-end upside, but he looks like a high pairing defenseman with the hockey sense and physical attributes to be a mainstay on Dallas' blue line. Eakin was solid this past season. He is a great skater with top-end work ethic, and while his offense remains a debatable point of his game, he has above-average potential in that area.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (08/01)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (08/03)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (08/03)

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