CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 4: Martin Gernat #25 of Team Slovakia grabs onto Radek Faksa #16 of Team Czech Republic during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Fifth Place game at the Scotiabank Saddledome on January 4, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Team Czech Republic defeated Team Slovakia 5-2. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Over the last month, I've broken down the games of the prospects the Dallas Stars will likely be choosing from in Friday's NHL Draft. Here's a refresher on six players who could be wearing a Dallas uniform by Saturday.
Centers: (a priority since it is one of the weakest positions in the Stars organization)
1) Brendan Gaunce, an 18-year old North American:
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.
2) Colton Sissons, an 18-year old North American:
He might be the best two-way forward in this draft, and he plays a tough physical game, grinding for every puck along the boards. There are many scouts out there that think he's without a doubt the best defensive forward in this draft and with the way that the NHL playoffs have gone this year, guys like that are going to be coveted.
3) Mikhail Grigorenko, an 18-year old Russian:
On paper, there's nothing to dislike about the young Russian. At 18-years-old, he's 6'3" and pushing near 200 lbs. He has as much, if not more, talent than the consensus number one pick in the draft, Nail Yakupov and it shows on the ice. With how big he is, he's not pushed around in traffic and can bully his way through defensemen. He has incredible hands, is able to work the puck like it's on a string and is a smooth skater that has explosive speed and acceleration. He understands the game, plays smart, and has a vision on the ice that can you would really only expect to find in 10 year veterans. His offensive potential is immeasurable (expect that it's sky high) and he's about as complete and polished an offensive center as you'll find.
** The biggest concern with Grigorenko is the very real possibility that he stays in the KHL long-term.
4) Radek Faksa, an 18-year old Latvian:
Faksa is a big boy and he really knows how to use his big frame to fight for pucks and pound his way through traffic. It's something that's pretty rare for a first year player, especially one that's played nearly his entire career in Europe. He's got a solid offensive skillset as well. He has a hard, fast shot (though it's relatively weak when compared to other top forward prospects) and is a pretty good playmaker on top of the puck. He's not going to blow you away with any of his offensive talents, but he's solid in all aspects of his game.
5) Zemgus Girgensons, an 18-year old Latvian:
Girgensons is one of those picks where you'll know what you're getting when you draft him. He'll be a surefire number two or three center in the league just because of the way he plays and his skillset. He's spent the past two seasons playing with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. He was a major part of their championship last season and captained his team this year. He led his team in goals (24) and points (55) this year and was second in assists (31) despite playing in just 49 of 60 games (he broke his jaw near the end of the season).
1) Cody Ceci, an 18-year old North American:
While he may be listed as a defenseman, it's the offensive side of the ice where he's especially valuable. The 18-year-old has good size to him (6'2" and around 210 lbs) and has used it well during his three years in the OHL with the Ottawa 67's. He's continuously improved his game (and his numbers as a result) and is now possibly the best offensive defenseman prospect in the entire draft. He finished this year as the second highest scorer among defensemen in the OHL with 60 points (17 goals and 43 assists) only behind Dougie Hamilton (a Boston Bruins top-10 pick from last season). He then proceeded to put up an impressive 15 points in 18 games during the OHL playoffs, cementing his rising stock as a top tier prospect.