The Dallas Stars only made four selections in the 2019 NHL Draft. They grabbed three defensemen and one winger across three different leagues. When it was finally time for Dallas to pick at 18 in the first round the front office opted to make a selection instead of a trade down for an extra pick.
All four of the Stars picks are intriguing in their own way.
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Thomas Harley, D, 6’3”
Harley, Thomas heard his name called by the Dallas Stars at pick 18 on day one. Harley plays for the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. He put up 11 goals and 47 assists in 68 games in his 2nd season with the Steelheads. He also notched four assists in four playoff games.
Harley is a tremendous skater. He’s fast and he has a quick first step. He is good at finding his open teammates in transition and in the offensive zone. Good puck control and can open up shooting lanes. Harley has a great wrist shot. He can fire a shot from the point and he is good at keeping is shot low. Many say his game is comparable to Jake Gardiner.
Defensively, Harley could use some work. His defensive game isn’t bad but it is nothing spectacular. He needs to continue to grow into his large frame. He should spend another year or two with the Steelheads to continue to improve his overall game and really tighten up his defense. Harley immediately becomes the Stars top defenseman prospect and maybe even their best in the system depending on who you ask.
Samuel Sjolund, D, 6’1”
The Stars spent a good chunk of the second day sitting on their hands. Their first pick of the day didn’t come until round four. When it was time to make the 111th pick in the draft the team selected Sjolund a defenseman from Sweden. Sjolund played 31 games for AIK J20 of the SuperElit league. He scored nine goals and recorded six assists.
There is not much film of Sjolund but there are a few highlights if you look in the right place. Sjolund is strong on the puck and is quite mobile. He is a smart player in the offensive and defensive zone. His wrist shot is fast and accurate. A knock on his offensive game may be that he likes to shoot the puck too much as opposed to set up his teammates who might have a better shot.
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Nicholas Porco, LW, 6’0”
The more that I look into Porco the more that I love this pick. Porco was the 4th overall pick in the 2017 OHL Draft to the Saginaw Spirit. The Sault Ste. Marie native just finished his second season with Saginaw. Porco scored 20 goals and recorded 16 assists in 67 games this year. In 16 playoff games, Porco recorded seven points.
Porco is a very speedy winger with great acceleration. He is good on his edges and is tough to contain. His speed allows him to be aggressive on the forecheck where he is good at forcing turnovers. Porco also has some good playmaking ability. He also plays well in transition and taking advantage of turnovers. Porco should see extended playing time next season with Saginaw. He could develop into a great fifth round find, which for Dallas has been pretty common. (ex. Jamie Benn, John Klingberg).
Benjamin Brinkman, D, 6’0”
The final pick for the Stars in the 2019 Draft was Ben Brinkman a freshman defenseman from the University of Minnesota. Brinkman is from Edina, Minnesota where he played his way up the high school hockey ranks and graduated early in order to play college hockey last season. Brinkman was the youngest player on the team and played big minutes his freshman year. He also led the team in +/- at plus 11.
Brinkman finished the season with one goal and seven assists. He appeared in all 38 games the Golden Gophers played this season. Brinkman only took 15 shots this season. The offensive numbers should increase next season for Brinkman. He is a defensive-minded defenseman who plays a calm and composed type of game. Many see Brinkman as a bottom pairing defender but that could all change if he recaptures his offensive abilities as he had in high school.
Chris Bugajsky covers the Dallas Stars, the NHL and the NHL Draft for Full Press Coverage. Follow Chris on twitter @CBugajsky14.