Stars’ Belle Deal Has The Right Ring

By John McGourty
Updated: May 10, 2005

Shawn Belle

DALLAS — Every first-round draft pick feels pressure, but when a team trades its No. 1 pick from two years earlier to acquire another team’s more recent No. 1 pick, the pressure must be huge.

That’s the situation in which Shawn Belle finds himself. It doesn’t look like it bothers him too much.

Belle was a highly touted second-year defensemen on the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League when the St. Louis Blues used their 2003 No. 1 pick to add a 90-mph slap shot and good skating to their blue-line corps.

The Blues made their pick and everyone in Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center nodded their heads and thought the Blues had acquired the heir apparent to Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis.

But the Blues had goaltending needs and traded Belle at the 2004 draft to acquire goalie Jason Bacashihua, Dallas’ No. 1 pick in 2001. Dallas felt confident that goalie Dan Ellis could soon move into the backup role behind Marty Turco.

Belle is 6-feet-2, 211 pounds and is considered an excellent skater with a powerful shot. He moves the puck with confidence and clearing the zone is one of his specialties.

In his fourth season at Tri-City, the defenseman had 13 goals and 32 assists while racking up 76 penalty minutes. The Edmonton native was an important member of Canada’s gold-medal 2005 World Junior team.

“Shawn’s a guy that has all the raw physical attributes,” said Stars’ Assistant General Manager Les Jackson. “He’s one of the better conditioned guys in hockey. He’s always in tremendous shape. He showed his capability at the World Junior tournament.”

“He’s just a really solid prospect. He’ll need some more coaching and he has to learn at the different levels as he moves forward. Shawn performs best on the left side and he has a really strong puck game.

“In juniors, what happens is players are allowed to play out of their strengths. So, he’s playing the puck a little more than he normally would. His best asset will be defending.”

“He’s a good positional player that we’ll want to keep the game simple. But Shawn is a player with considerable raw attributes that we can develop.”