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Stars' McDonnell Looking Forward to New Chapter

Sunday, 06.1.2014 / 1:48 PM CT / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Stars\' McDonnell Looking Forward to New Chapter

The 2014 NHL Draft signals the start of a new era in the life of Dallas Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell.

McDonnell spent a decade aiding Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland at the draft table. This year, he will be sharing his insight with Stars GM Jim Nill, who hired him in July 2013.

The timing is impeccable too, as the 2014 Draft class poses a unique challenge.

"This is the toughest draft to gauge that I've ever been involved in," McDonnell told NHL.com. "Guys that maybe are tenth on your list, could go No. 30 or vice versa. It's not a big gap, like some years where it drops off. It's pretty close all the way through and I think it's just going to sort itself out at the draft table once teams start taking different players. You just hope something you have falls to you."

McDonnell went on record to say that defenseman Aaron Ekblad, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 Draft, is probably the top defenseman available. The veteran scout is a big believer in building from the goal line out and top defensemen are hard to come by in any draft.

Last year with the Red Wings, McDonnell had right wing Valeri Nichushkin ranked third on his wish list. The Red Wings didn't select until No. 20 last year and, wouldn't you know it, the Stars ultimately tabbed the Russian-born standout with the No. 10 choice. The general consensus among scouts was that Nichushkin slipped that far in the draft because of the possibility of him returning to the Kontinental Hockey League.

"I remember sitting at the Red Wings draft table last year and [Holland] turning to me and saying, 'Do you think Dallas is going to take [Nichushkin]?' I said, 'If it's not Nichushkin I'd be shocked.' So they took him and it was a great pick.

"Everyone knew the 'Russian Factor' was the reason he fell to No. 10 but you have to do your homework and if they're already playing over here that's one thing, and if he doesn't you need to do the research. Dallas did their homework and got Val and it has certainly worked out."

McDonnell said the 2014 NHL Scouting Combine once again provided a great opportunity to learn more about the top prospects, particularly during the interview stage.

"It's important to find out if they can at least put a sentence together," McDonnell said with a grin. "Seriously though, I know they can do that. We're just sizing the player up when he comes to our door for the interview; shake hands with him and you immediately get an idea who you might be dealing with. There were actually a couple of real surprises for me. I'm not going to name names but I thought they looked small on the ice and when they came to the door I thought, 'Wow, this kid is way bigger than I thought he was.'"

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 7 4 6 5 10
J. Spezza 7 4 5 1 9
P. Eaves 7 2 3 3 5
P. Sharp 7 3 1 0 4
C. Eakin 7 0 4 0 4
A. Goligoski 7 2 2 -3 4
J. Klingberg 7 1 3 -2 4
A. Hemsky 7 1 3 3 4
J. Demers 7 0 3 5 3
M. Janmark 6 0 3 0 3
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 4 1 0 .925 2.01
A. Niemi 1 1 1 .870 3.36
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