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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dallas Screwed by System

This is Toby Petersen (and Dwayne Roloson). He now plays with the Dallas Stars.

First of all: Souray with the two goals at the All Star Game... too bad he didn't get a hat trick. And yes, I spend a lot of time talking about the Dallas Stars in this post, but it does come back to the Oilers eventually.

Second of all: TSN with the story today on Dallas' lack of a farm team. Current Dallas Star Toby Petersen was a product of that debacle just a few years back, when he was an Oiler prospect playing for the Iowa Stars. A few other notable Oilers prospects have been jostled by the inconsistency of not having the Springfield Falcons around, such as Jeff DesLauriers, Rob Schremp, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, and Bryan Young.

Let's have a look at the top Dallas Stars prospects (according to Hockey's Future) and look at where they've played this season:

Ivan Vishnevskiy, D - Peoria Rivermen
James Neal, C - Manitoba Moose/Dallas Stars
Mark Fistric, D - Manitoba Moose
Fabian Brunnstrom, LW - Dallas Stars

The Oilers elected to keep most of the prospects on the farm in favor of developing them further, and this had more to do with the big club's own poor performance than the elite status of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins or the Iowa Stars. Rather, it made more sense having the prospects play big, important minutes on a mid-level AHL team than small, unimportant minutes on an NHL team performing poorly.

Has the Dallas Stars' strategy of playing their prospects on the big team rather than the farm team worked in their favor? Mind you this will not be reflected in how they are doing in the standings, but rather in player development.

Ivan Vishnevskiy
AHL 38 GP 3 G 9 A 12 PTS 18 PIM

Vishnevskiy is supposed to be an offensive defensemen and his numbers are similar to Taylor Chorney and Mathieu Roy of the Springfield Falcons. They are, all 3 of them, being outperformed by Theo Peckham.

What does that mean, that the AHL is unfriendly to offensive defensemen? Or does that mean both Vishnveskiy's partner and Mathieu Roy are incompettent as defensive defensemen?

Mark Fistric
NHL 11 GP 0 G 1 A 1 PTS 4 PIM
AHL 27 GP 0 G 7 A 7 PTS 24 PIM

Mark Fistric projects to be a Denis Gauthier type of defenseman, which is peculiar since he's only being outscored by Vishnevskiy by 5 points. This either means Fistric brings a lot more to the team than meets the eye, or Vishnevskiy brings a lot less. With a point total as low as 7 total points, I would think the second argument holds more water.

Fabian Brunnstrom
NHL 31 GP 10 G 4 A 14 PTS 2 PIM

These numbers are comparable to Robert Nilsson, which is not exactly something to write home about. Nilsson and Brunnstrom are both great, skilled players on somewhat affordable contracts. Nilsson has a whole lot of heart and that, unfortunately, does not say much about Brunnstrom. Having been rushed into the NHL, I'm not sure he will take to being sent to the farm team to hone his assets - especially if the ones he needs developed are intangible.

James Neal
AHL 5 GP 4 G 1 A 5 PTS 2 PIM
NHL 40 GP 13 G 6 A 19 PTS 33 PIM

These are Kyle Brodziak numbers, but James Neal is not projected to be a Kyle Brodziak type of player. Here is his description from Hockeys' Future:
Potential: Top-six, two-way power forward, like a somewhat slower version of Shane Doan.

Either somebody is not doing their job or the scouts got it all wrong. With Fabian Brunnstrom struggling, Brendan Morrow injured for the long term, you'd think that James Neal would get more opportunity. Is that the player's fault - or the team's fault?

Considering all the problems the Oilers had a few years ago before the Springfield Falcons signed on as the affiliate, I have a bit of sympathy for them in their dire situation. It would seem that the system is ruining the development of their prospects (with the exception of Fabian Brunnstrom) and if the Dallas Stars are paying attention to the Oilers from a few years back, they know the system can turn out some Petersens and it can turn out some Rob Schremps, who may be a comparable to Fabian Brunnstrom in terms of skill and consistency.

With their team in the basement and the prospects' future in jeopardy due to farm team troubles, the Dallas Stars are in a world of hurt and the NHL should forget about failing franchises like the fanless Phoenix Coyotes and focus on saving teams like the Dallas Stars that actually have a fan base worth saving.

That goes for the NY Islanders too.

The question is: do teams benefit more from playing their prospects in the NHL or the AHL when the farm team situation is in question? I think the answer is obvious that being a leader on an mid-level AHL team is a lot better than plugging it out on an NHL team playing nightly forfeit matches. NHL experience is valuable, yes - but value is subjective and I question the value of an NHL start spent in the league basement.

Good luck, Stars.

(P.S. I have not forgotten about all the playoff series we lost to you, so with all that sympathetic B.S. behind me, I just want to say, na na na na boo boo)

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