NHL teams build their teams in many different ways. Some construct their clubs via free agency while others do it through trades. However, the main way teams create a roster is through the NHL Draft. Most years have maybe one or two players make the roster, but some years the general manager gets it right and gets a cornerstone or two for the franchise. The Last Word on Hockey is doing the best draft class for each team with the exception of the Seattle Kraken. Today we look at the Dallas Stars best draft class.
Dallas Stars Best Draft Class: 2017
We’ve tried to avoid classes from the last few years so we wouldn’t be accused of recency bias. However, the 2017 draft class is already looking like a winner. The Stars had missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs one season after winning the Central Division. They’d miss the postseason again in 2017-18, but Dallas got three players that may figure prominently into their plans. Two are already key parts of the team and a third is ready to be the likely goalie of the future.
Previous drafts for the Minnesota North Stars will also be counted in this article. This is in line with the Quebec Nordiques counting for the Colorado Avalanche and the old Winnipeg Jets being part of the Arizona Coyotes.
Miro Heiskanen, 1st round, 3rd overall
The Finn played with HIFK in the SM-Liiga before coming over to the Stars in the 2018-19 season. He took to the North American game pretty quickly with 12 goals and 33 points. Heiskanen finished fourth in the Calder Trophy voting for the league’s top rookie. The Espoo, Finland native has teamed with John Klingberg and Jamie Oleksiak to form one of the best defensive groups in the league.
He really broke out in the team’s run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, where he would set the Stars’ playoff record for points by a defenceman with 16. The blueliner finished with 26 points in 27 games if you include the seeding round. Heiskanen was just rewarded with an eight-year, $67.6 million contract and looks to be the linchpin of a Stars blueline group that’s one of the better ones in the league.
Jake Oettinger, 1st round, 26th overall
Dallas used the pick acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks to take the Boston University goalie. “Oetter” got another 37 wins with the Terriers before signing his entry-level contract. He spent a couple of seasons with the Texas Stars of the AHL before getting called up in March 2020. The Lakeville, Minn. native debuted in the playoff bubble in the Western Conference Final.
He was pressed into service in the 2020-21 campaign after injury problems sidelined Ben Bishop. He won 11 games, which is one less than normal starter Anton Khudobin. Oettinger will likely start the season in the AHL due the Braden Holtby signing. However, he has a chance to be the team’s goalie of the future.
Jason Robertson, 2nd round, 39th overall
Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov did win the Calder in 2021, but Robertson was in the conversation most of the season. The Arcadia, Calif. native burst onto the scene with 17 goals and 45 points. Robertson has taken to the NHL game quicker than his brother, Nicholas Robertson, has with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The younger Robertson looks to be a future fixture in the top-six forwards for the Stars. He’s working on improving on the defensive end, but he looks to be ready for a strong sophomore season.
Fifth-round pick Jacob Peterson just signed a two-year, entry-level contract in April after playing in Sweden. Other draft choices Liam Hawel, Brett Davis and Dylan Ferguson are playing in the AHL and ECHL with different organizations. This is still general manager Jim Nill‘s best draft so far since taking over in 2013.
Other 2017 Picks
Jacob Petersson remains part of the Stars system. He has played well in the SHL and the Stars will bring him to North America this season. If he hits as an NHL player, the draft could look even better for the Stars.
2010 NHL Draft
Jack Campbell, 1st round, 11th overall
Campbell’s career with the Stars didn’t work out and he made only one start with the big club. He admits that he struggled with his mental health while with the team. However, he did help the Texas Stars win the 2014 Calder Cup. Campbell didn’t crack the NHL lineup and was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. He got more regular game time, but was stuck with the Ontario Reign mostly. He was dealt again, but finally broke through with Toronto. Campbell has a chance to be a starter with one of the better teams in the league.
Patrik Nemeth, 2nd round, 41st overall
The rugged Swedish defender played parts of four seasons with the Stars, but has made the most of his time with the Avalanche. He’s played in Denver for two separate stints with a stop with the Detroit Red Wings in between. Nemeth recently signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers this offseason.
John Klingberg, 5th round, 131st overall
General manager Joe Nieuwendyk went and “Saved the best for last” with this one. The former Stars legend may have struck out as a general manager, but he did get this pick right. Klingberg set the template for Heiskanen with a breakout rookie season after finishing up in Europe. He scored 11 goals to get on the all-rookie team and fifth in the Calder voting. The 29-year-old has gotten double-digit goals four times and is part of the Stars strong “D” group.
The 1978 NHL Draft saw three players with at least 600 games in Bobby Smith, Steve Payne and Curt Giles. Third-rounder Neal Broten was the jewel of the 1979 Draft that saw Craig Hartsburg and Tom McCarthy also picked. Brian Bellows and Bob Rouse played over 1,000 and both were taken in 1982’s draft.
Some of the better Dallas-based drafts include 2012 with Radek Faksa, Devin Shore and Esa Lindell. Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz were part of the 2015 class while the first Dallas class of 1993 yielded Todd Harvey and Jamie Langenbrunner.