TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 14: 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Joe Nieuwendyk is interviewed by the media during a photo opportunity at the Hockey Hall Of Fame on November 14, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
This is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, especially at areas (defense and center) where the Stars organization needs help. Dallas, with the No. 13 pick, could have a number of excellent prospects to choose from.
Dallas has a pretty weak center core and very few good prospects at the position in the organization. With Mike Ribeiro getting older (and worse) and no other good offensive options to turn to, the Stars should think hard about drafting a center with their first pick this season.
By the time the Stars pick rolls around, the top three centers available (Mikhail Grigorenko, Alex Galchenyuk and Filip Forsberg) should long gone (probably four gone in Radek Faska), but I expect (and hope) that Brendan Gaunce will still be available.
The 6'2", 210 pound 18-year-old has just about everything a team needs. He's a big, tough power forward with excellent hands and playmaking ability. He's ranked as the 13th best North American skater and fourth best center by Central Scouting and should fall around where the Stars draft:
A highlight tape from his time as an amateur:
For the past two seasons, Gaunce has been playing in the OHL and he put up some excellent numbers last year. He averaged a point per game on his way to 28 goals and 40 assists for the Bellevillle Bulls and he's also a consistent member of the Canadian World Junior Championship teams.
Gaunce may not have the natural gifts and talent as the premier center prospects (though I believe he does), but he might be one of the most complete players in the entire draft. He's in the perfect mold to become a top power forward in the league with his size, skill and toughness; aspects of his game that will only get better as he matures. As you can see from his assists, he's a talented playmaker first and a goal scorer second. He has a good hard shot and great vision.
He does a little bit of everything on the ice. He works on both the power play and penalty kill units and works hard on the defensive side. Two way centers are coveted in this league and with his size, he uses his body well to just physically outwork guys for the puck. He can also work as a winger if needed but center is his natural position and he's easily a top-six forward, something that the Stars desperately need. Even better, he's a smart player with great leadership qualities (he's really a born leader).
If he really develops his offensive game, he would have a comparable skill set to David Backes, one of the best two-way centers in the league and a top Selke nomination (for best defensive forward). There's really not too much more you could ask this kid to do.
He has very few negative points to his game. He's not the most fluid skater and stickhandler on the ice, but that's something that can easily be worked on. As stated before, his offensive ceiling might be a little bit more limited compared to the other top centers in this draft, but he's still immensely talented. You could do a whole lot worse than him. With the way the draft will likely play out, Gaunce is my top option for who I hope the Stars pick.