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Stars get younger at center

The SportsXchange

The words of Les Jackson recently proved prophetic in how the Stars would approach the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Dallas' director of player personnel might have tipped the organization's hand a bit as to its draft strategy.

"I think we're pretty secure (in the organization) in a lot of positions, but we're a little thin at center ice," Jackson said. "That's an area that long term and short term we always have to continue to look at."

Dallas had the 13th overall pick in the draft, but before the Stars were even on the clock, the club made news by announcing it had traded 32-year-old center Mike Ribeiro to the Capitals for 21-year-old center Cody Eakin and a second-round pick.

Trading Ribeiro, who had centered the Stars' top line for the last few seasons, leaves a pretty big vacancy on the Dallas roster, which is without a true No. 1 center. One possibility is Jamie Benn, a 2012 NHL All-Star, and another is Steve Ott, who could get a shot despite appearing to be best suited as a third- or fourth-line player.

But the trading of Ribeiro also could signal that Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk has another move in the works to bolster his club's corps of centermen. But for now, the 2011 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame is happy with what he got for the veteran center.

"Cody Eakin is a young, competitive player who we've had our eye on for some time," Nieuwendyk said in a press release. "He plays a solid two-way game and epitomizes the 'hard to play against' mentality we're building our team around. Cody's future is bright and we're excited to add him to our club."

Eakin was a third-round pick of the Capitals in the 2009 draft and spent much of last season with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. The young center made his NHL debut last November against the Ducks and in his 30 games with the Caps registered eight points (4-4-8).

The Stars further bolstered their center ranks by taking 18-year-old Radek Faksa, who hails from the Czech Republic and spent last year with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), with their top pick in the draft.

Faksa called Benn, a 2012 NHL All-Star, a player he really likes to watch. He was joined at the draft by his mother, sister and brother.

"It's awesome," Faksa said. "It's great to have my family here. It's their first time in the U.S. I hugged my mom, my brother and my sister (when I heard my name called)."

The Stars' latest first-round pick might be a bit young at 18, but he already possesses two qualities that are crucial for every young player's success -- maturity and the fact he's already a solid two-way player. And having a 6-foot-3 frame also won't hurt his chances of success in the NHL.

"I've got a big body," Faksa said. "In Canada, you need to be physical, so it (playing in the OHL) was awesome for me."

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League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Aug 28 9:00 am
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