Despite not having that bonafide 1st line Star, or a potential franchise player, I think our future looks very bright, especially when you take the fact that the Stars always draft near the bottem. I do not count Marty Turco, who despite is still fairly young is already in the mids of his prime.
Here's a little breakdown including each' ceiling and projection. Note, that I said ceiling, which happens to be a player's highest potential offensive output of his career, obviously his average would be lower.
My top 5 future cornerstones of the Stars are, in order:
1) Brenden Morrow is probably our future on offense, he's solid all-round and has the gamestyle of a powerforward. I see him as a possble candidate to be our Captain for the next generation. Hell, he's 23 and already recieved the "A" on his sweater, outbeating former Captains such as Turgeon, Numminen and Stu Barnes.
Ceiling: 30/35 goals - 30/35 assists. Ala Adam Deadmarsh/Brendan Shanahan.
2) Antti Miettinen, from what I've seen, is all I could ever wish for and more. He's not only a perfectly all-round forward, he also is an effective and lethal open ice hitter. At 23 his progression and development is nearing his stop and he should enter his prime rather soon. I feel Miettinen could make the same impact and provide the same value to the Stars franchise as Jere Lehtinen has done for us so far. Someone that is more valueble to the team than his stats could ever prove. Ofcourse, nobody posseses the same defensive instincts Lehtinen has, but Miettinen is definitely sound defensively and could challenge for a potential Selke trophy down the road. According to several article's (including one of our fierced rivals from Edmonton), Miettinen is an early Calder favorite.
Ceiling: 25/30 goals - 30/35 assists. Ala Jere Lehtinen
3) Trevor Daley is someone that makes your jaw drop, he's a supurb skater, he's flashy, feisty, fairly physical for a guy his size and I'm sure he could round out his game playing in Dallas and become a solid defenseman. His offensive skills are top notch and if he could develop his defensive aspects I could see him becoming a #2. Size IMO is not an issue since he's so damn smart in avoiding those situations. Could make the team as early as this year and he might even make some noise among his position regarding the Calder trophy.
Ceiling: 10/15 goals - 30/40 assists. Ala Brian Rafalski
4) Steve Ott, the Snott, my favorite prospect in the NHL, bar none. Ott is a complete pest with an excellent scoring touch. He does his job well and with more seasoning should overcome his only lack, which is that he's prone for taking bad penalties. Size used to be an issue but Ott did a great job working on that, building up to 190 pounds and growing up to 6'0/6'1. IMO Ott has the mentality and attitude to become a wonderful and effective Captain. Some see a Darcy Tucker in him, but I prefer a mix of Tyson Nash, Darcy Tucker, Brenden Morrow and a little bit of Sergei Samsonov's offensive style. He could be used as a prime offensive threat but his style simply suits a checking role, expect that to affect his average stats.
Ceiling: 25 goals - 25/30 assists. Ala see above...
5) Niko Kapanen is a wonderful two way center with a terrific attitude and dedication. He seems to have a knack for big games and crunchtime and is fairly consistant. Great vision and playmaking abilities makes him dangerous offensively but his prime priority are still his defensive shutdown capabilities. I see a potential Selke candiate in him..
Ceiling: 10/15 goals - 35/40 assists. Ala Todd Marchant
I agree that the youth of the Stars is underrated. This also does not include a bunch a underrated prospects like Lundqvist(future #2 center) , Jokinin (potential top 10 scorer in Finland this year) Vagner(Matty replacement although scoring has disappointed play has not) and Hagos(strong checking center). They also have four legit goalie prospects of which one could be moved. While offensively gifted players are at a premium, Polak and Holtet could provide some flash. They also have a #1 and at least three #2s Columbus, Dallas and Comp pick for Hatcher in this draft. So the farm has improved. I would be disappointed if we still are ranked in the bottom quarter of all teams.
I see Niko as a potential playoff hero who starts scoring after 82 games of regular season have been played (could this be because this time used to be spent with the national team )
So Antti has shown some open-ice hitting? Well his adaption to small ice might change his game alot.
I went to the last two games and Miettenen looks great. He is fast. He plays very well with Kapanen especially. He didn't seem like he was having too much trouble with the smaller rink. I personally would love to see the Kapanen/Miettenen/Lehtinen line in action for a full season.
Miettinen and Kapanen have extraordinary chemistry that's nothing new. Two other guys who have great chemistry with Kapanen and Miettinen are Jukka Hentunen (former flame and predator) and Timo Pärssinen (former duck)