STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 08: The team of Latvia celebrate after winning the IIHF World Championship group S match between Latvia and Italy at Ericsson Globe on May 8, 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The 18-year old Latvian with a great name doesn't have the upside of some of the other center prospects in the draft, but he'd be a fine fall-back option for the Stars at No. 13.
Up next in our draft profiles is possibly the guy with the best name in the entire draft, Zemgus Girgensons (@zemgus94 on Twitter). The 18-year-old Latvian born center is ranked as the 18th best North American skater and seventh best center in the draft by Central Scouting and makes his way into the top 15 in the draft by other scouts (including TSN's scouts).
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).
Girgensons is a big fella (6'2" and around 200 lbs) and he uses that body well while playing a gritty, in-your-face, two-way game. You talk about power forwards in this draft and Girgensons is the clear-cut prototype. He's a solid skater with good straight-line speed and is pretty agile for his size. Girgenson's is as strong as an ox and won't be worked off pucks easily. He's a tough forechecker and a solid defensive center (one of the best two-way guys in the draft). He does get into a bit of trouble though as he might be too aggressive and he racks up the penalty minutes (69 PIM this year, third most on his team).
He has a really good shot, not great though, and has limited play making ability. He's a fine passer, but his vision can be limited. Most of his scoring opportunities will come as a result of him just flat out working his ass off and fighting his way to pucks. He'll need a lot of offensive seasoning at the next levels as he's not the type of guy that you'll count on to carry a team scoring-wise. He's a willing worker though so there's no reason to believe that he won't get a lot better on offense.
He's got the intangibles that coaches love. Besides captaining his USHL team, he was also an assistant captain on his Latvian under-20 team at the World Junior Championships. He's a smart player that's committed to every shift and will go all out (block shots, dish out checks) no matter how much ice time you ask of him. He's also more than used to the North American style of game as he's played all of his major hockey over here.
He's also a pretty versatile player. He can work on both units of the specials teams. He registered five goals and nine assists on the man advantage this season and had plenty of time working on the penalty kill. He's pretty much assured to work on the PK unit for whatever team he goes to.
Girgensons is one of those secondary options that I like for the Stars. If all of those really highly touted guys are off the board at number 13, Girgensons would be a fine, safe pick. He won't be making an immediate impact (he'll play at the University of Vermont for the foreseeable future) but he's pretty much a lock to get into the NHL in a few years and be a pretty valuable player.
Of all the centers with a mid-round (top-15 to 20) grade, he's third on my list behind Brendan Gaunce and Radek Faksa. If the Stars had some better, more offensively talented center options already in the organization I would've been all for picking Girgensons, but Dallas really needs some offensive playmakers at the center position.
Dallas can always use tough forwards like him and he has plus defensive abilities. A little more work into his offensive game and some polishing and he can turn into a top two center and would be an absolute steal. He would've been a lock for the top-10 if he had more offensive upside to his game, but it looks like he'll drop to a mid-first round pick. I'd be fine with Dallas taking him if he's there and there's a lack of options available on the board. There is a lot to like about him though and there's plenty of upside and absolutely no risk to taking him. He will play in the NHL and he will be a solid player.