Stars GM Jim Nill willing to trade third-overall pick for player

The New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery and the Flyers and Stars moved up to round out the top three.

The Dallas Stars made some noise earlier this month by acquiring Ben Bishop then signing the netminder to a long-term contract, and general manager Jim Nill might not be done wheeling and dealing.

Nill told NHL Network Radio Thursday he is willing to trade the third-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

“I have talked to other teams already about possibly moving that pick, getting an established player back,” Nill said. “It gives us a lot of options. I think this will heat up more as we go.”

Dallas secured the No. 3 pick by winning the third draw in April’s draft lottery despite there being just 6.4 per cent odds of that happening. They moved up from the No. 8 slot.

If they end up keeping the pick it will be the highest selection the franchise has had since 1988 when they were the Minnesota North Stars and chose Mike Modano first overall. In fact, since moving to Dallas in 1993 the team has only had four top-10 picks. They were Valeri Nichushkin (2013), Scott Glennie (2009), Richard Jackman (1996) and Todd Harvey (1993) with Jackman being the only top-five pick of the bunch, going fifth overall.

One reason the Stars might be open to trading the third pick is because the consensus among scouts is there’s a somewhat significant drop-off in talent after the top two picks.

Brandon Wheat Kings star Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads are expected to go one-two to the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers—the order in which they’re selected will depend on which player the Devils prefer—but then everything after that is open to interpretation.

Finnish blueliner Miro Heiskanen, Windsor Spitfires centre Gabriel Vilardi and Portland Winterhawks forward Cody Glass are among the players likely to be chosen early in the first round, but Nill believes there are as many as 10 players that could potentially be taken at No. 3.

“Are you looking for a big strong centreman? Are you looking for a scoring winger? Are you looking for a power forward? There is a lot of different options there,” Nill said.

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Another thing to consider is even if the Stars do end up trading away the No. 3 pick they’ll still have a first-rounder to work with. Nill traded winger Patrick Eaves to the Ducks prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a conditional second-round pick. The condition on said pick was if Anaheim reached the Western Conference Final with Eaves playing at least half of their games in the first two rounds, the pick would become a first-rounder.

Nill is one of many GMs currently weighing his options ahead of the entry draft and, of course, looming in the background is the NHL Expansion Draft as well.

“I think early June will be an exciting time for player movement,” he added.