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There is hardly anything set in stone when it comes to the NHL Draft. There was a dozen or so trades on the opening night. Draft picks were swapped for players, picks for players and players for players. For most teams, transactions were made in preparation for the rapid paced free agency period that starts July 1.
Last year, the Dallas Stars partook in the frenzy when they traded for the rights of then free agent Antti Niemi. This year, however, Jim Nill and the front office kept it relatively conventional, drafting in order and taking who they wanted. Not to say there wasn’t Stars movement though. Jordie Benn accepted a three-year-contract just before the draft and former Stars’ 11th overall pick, Jack Campbell (goaltender), was sent to the LA Kings for defenseman Nick Ebert on draft day two.
So after several teams repositioned and maneuvered their selections, it finally came to the Dallas Stars with the 25th pick and they picked Riley Tufte. The 18-year-old Minnesota native stands at 6’5” at left wing. Here’s the full scouting analysis according to ESPN.com:
Tufte measures in at around 6-foot-5, but he skates like a 5-foot-10 forward. He has an incredibly explosive stride and first step; combined with his frame, that makes him a headache for defensemen when he’s coming down the wing. His defensive play was fine at the high school ranks for Blaine High (Minnesota), but against the higher level of competition in the USHL, some holes were exposed in the way he plays his position. As always with top high school prospects, questions of pace and quality of competition will loom over Tufte until he shows it at a consistent level versus better players.
Don’t expect to see Tufte in a Stars’ jersey anytime soon, but keep your eye on him as he starts his college career in the upcoming season at the University Minnesota-Duluth. Other notable picks were forwards Fredrik Karlstrom and Rhett Gardner and goaltender Colton Point. Like Tufte, expect to hear more from these players down the road in the coming years.
Mark Your Calendar for July 1st
Now it’s time for the front office to shift their attention to free agency. The Stars have six pending unrestricted free agents to make decisions on. All six had significant ice-time especially in the postseason. Jason Demers and Kris Russell were two top 4 defenders on this team chewing up large ice-time on special teams. Patrick Eaves is another guy who fits that role on special teams while playing at the top line with Benn and company. Colton Sceviour, Vernon Fiddler and Travis Moen round out the list whom each had unique impactful roles on this team last season. Yet they could all walk free. Jim Nill seems content with what he’s got.
“I know some people think I’m crazy, but I like where we are,” Nill said according to the Sports Day. “…I like our young defensemen and I think they deserve a chance. And I like our young forwards, and I think they’re ready to step up. If we had to go into next season with this roster, I think we would be in good shape.
Nill seems to hint there won’t a splash sign or trade this offseason that we’ve grown accustom too since he has been here. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see some movement or rumors at the least, and you can bet it will start going down the day free agency starts on July 1. To get you prepared for the frenzy, here a list of some top unrestricted free agents.
Notable Free Agents
Steven Stamkos (C)
Anze Kopitar (C)
David Backes (C)
Jakub Voráček (RW)
Dustin Byfulgien (D/RW)
Kyle Okposo (RW)
Brent Seabrook (D)
Just to name a few. Pretty exciting, huh?