Next up in our Dallas Stars’ draft revisits is the 2011 NHL Draft. In 2010, Dallas drafted their future superstar defenseman, John Klingberg. While that is a tough act to follow, anything can happen when it comes to the Entry Draft. In 2011, they held six picks, one in each of the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Here is a deep dive into how those picks turned out and if this draft, as a whole, was a success.
Early Rounds 1 & 2
First Round (14th overall): Jamie Oleksiak, Defense (Northeastern University, NCAA)
Oleksiak was a highly touted prospect coming out of college. At 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, he was a massive defenseman that had the ability to dominate a game. After one season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he made his professional debut for the Texas Stars during the 2012-13 season. In the same season, he also made his NHL debut, playing 16 games for Dallas. He struggled at the NHL level, playing mostly in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the first two seasons of his career. In the AHL, he continued to impress each season and earn his opportunities. His offensive stats were never very impressive, but he maintained a high plus/minus and showed loads of potential. Unfortunately, he failed to find any consistency in the NHL and after five seasons of bouncing between leagues, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2017-18 season.
This move resurrected his career as he tallied 14 points and held a plus-13 rating in 47 games with the Penguins. During the following season, his numbers were equally as impressive and near the midpoint of the season, he was traded back to Dallas in a nearly identical trade to the one that sent him away. His second stint in Dallas was far different than his first. Pairing mostly with young superstar Miro Heiskanen, Oleksiak was a legitimate top-four defenseman that had a huge impact on every game. His physical play increased, he was more responsible, and he found the consistency he had been lacking.
After three successful seasons, he became an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021. Stars’ general manager Jim Nill showed his interest in re-signing him if possible, but knew it was not going to be easy. Unfortunately, Oleksiak was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft where he will begin the 2021-22 season.
Second Round (44th overall): Brett Ritchie, Right Wing (Sarnia Sting [OHL])
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Ritchie was a big, physical forward that Dallas had high hopes for. He made his professional debut in the AHL during the 2013-14 season where he recorded 48 points in 68 games. He spent the following season split between the AHL and NHL, but struggled to make an impact at the highest level. As that trend continued, he finally found success during the 2016-17 season, playing in 78 games for Dallas. He was far more of an impactful player this time around, scoring 16 goals and adding eight assists.
However, during the following two seasons, he struggled to find offense scoring only 20 points in 124 total games. Dallas chose not to re-sign him and he signed with the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2019. He has since moved on to the Calgary Flames where he will begin next season.
Middle Rounds 3 & 4
Fourth Round (105th overall): Emil Molin, Left Wing (Brynas Jr. Sweden-Jr)
After playing exclusively in Sweden, Molin finally made his way to North America for the 2015-16 season. During that season, he played 54 games in the ECHL and 11 games in the AHL. He found success in the ECHL, scoring 46 points in 54 games, but was not a factor in the games he played for the Texas Stars. That marked the end of his career in America as he returned to Sweden where he has played ever since.
Fifth Round (135th overall): Troy Vance, Defense (Victoriaville Tigres [QMJHL])
Vance never made it to the highest level, peaking in the ECHL. He bounced around between teams for years, struggling to find much success with any of them. His only detours came in the SM-liiga and the Southern Professional Hockey League where he finished his career in 2018.
Late Rounds 5-7
Sixth Round (165th overall): Matej Stranksy, Right Wing (Saskatoon Blades, WHL)
Stransky did not take long to reach the professional ranks, making his AHL debut in 2013. While he was not dominant, he was an impactful player for the Texas Stars, scoring 23, 19, 39, and 47 points, respectively, in four seasons.
Following the 2017-18 season, he decided to move to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and has since played in both Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Seventh Round (195th overall): Jyrki Jokipakka, Defense (Ilves Tampere [SM-liiga])
Jokipakka, like others in this draft, made his AHL debut during the 2013-14 season. After an impressive first season, he was called up and played 51 games for Dallas the following season. Unfortunately, he was only a mediocre defenseman at the NHL level, hovering right around an even plus/minus rating and adding few points on the offensive end. After playing 91 games over two seasons, he was traded at the 2016 Trade Deadline to the Calgary Flames. He played two seasons for Calgary and three games with the Ottawa Senators before moving to the KHL in 2017, where he currently plays. In return for trading Jokipakka, Dallas received veteran defenseman, Kris Russel. Russel played in only 11 games and was not re-signed for the following season.
Nikita Kucherov, Right Wing (CSKA Jr, Russia) (58th overall)
Kucherov is among the NHL elite. Since his first season in 2013-14, he has been a high-level offensive threat for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Over the next five seasons, his numbers steadily increased from 65 to his current career high of 128 in 2019-20. After accomplishing back-to-back 100-point seasons, he helped his team reach the top, winning their franchises’ second Stanley Cup in 2020. Although this came at the expense of the Stars, it was an incredible run and Kucherov played a huge part in that, leading the league with 34 points in 25 games in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles.
History seemed to repeat itself the following year as Tampa Bay found themselves hoisting the Stanley Cup again in 2021. Kucherov found a way to rack up 32 points in 23 games despite missing the entire regular season and battling through an injury in the playoffs. At the age of 28 and with plenty left in the tank, his resume already includes an Art Ross Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and two Stanley Cups. He is a franchise-changing player that Dallas would have enjoyed drafting if given a second chance.
Other Notable Players
J.T. Miller (15th overall), Connor Murphy (20th overall), Vladislav Namestnikov (27th overall), Rickard Rakell (30th overall), John Gibson (39th overall), Brandon Saad (43rd overall), Joel Edmundson (46th overall), William Karlsson (53rd overall), Vincent Trocheck (64th overall), Adam Lowry (67th overall), Blake Coleman (75th overall), Jordan Binnington (88th overall), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (96th overall), Andrew Shaw (139th overall), Ondrej Palat (208th overall).
Overall Draft Rating
While none of the players above had massive impacts on the franchise, Oleksiak was an important player for them. In his second stint, he helped Heiskanen develop into the elite young player he is and established their top-four as one of the best in the league. There is no telling how impactful he could have been if they were able to sign him this summer and he will be missed as he moves on to the Kraken. Other than Oleksiak, Ritchie and Jokipakka make up the rest of the NHL experience for the group and were not big factors once they reached the highest level. Overall, Dallas was unable to find much success with their 2011 Draft picks. Will 2012 be an improvement or another letdown?
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!