The dog days of summer are finally here for hockey fans. All the excitement of the draft has finally evaporated and Free Agent Frenzy has passed. As of now, NHL teams are holding their prospect development camps to get an idea of how their new shiny toys stack up versus their other prospects.
October appears to be a light-year away. Fortunately for you, Frozen Futures has you covered. Each day we will be going over the Top 20 Prospects for a team in the NHL. From Anaheim to Winnipeg, we have you covered. This post is the Top 20 Prospects: Dallas Stars.
We will consider all players who have played in 65 NHL games or less before the age of 24 as prospects.
The Dallas Stars have been stocking the prospect cupboards since Joe Nieuwendyk was the general manager. Nieuwendyk left (… well he was fired) the Dallas Stars organization with some terrific pieces. When Jim Nill took over the team in 2013, he had an overflowing pot of gold to manage. As you already know, Nill moved some of these pieces in trades to acquire star players such as Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and more recently, Patrick Sharp.
Out of Dallas’ fountain of youth system, their top prospect begins and ends with Julius Honka. Initially I was sceptical of Honka’s size. In his first AHL season as an 18 year old he dazzled crowds with his quick decision making and swift skating. Honka is a smart, calculated defenseman and he belongs on the Dallas Stars prospect throne.
Rounding out the top three prospects in the Stars system are Jason Dickinson and 2015 first-rounder, Denis Guryanov. It’s hard to knock Jason Dickinson’s game. He’s a plug-and-play forward. He’s malleable and has the talent to morph into the player you want him to play as depending on the situation. Guryanov was a huge swing for the fences at the 2015 NHL Draft, and the swing could end up being a home run. Guryanov will spend time in the KHL with Lada Togliatti before coming across the pond. As it stands, Guryanov could potentially be Val Nichushkin 2.0.
Esa Lindell and newly acquired prospect, Stephen Johns complete the top five prospects in the Stars system. Lindell tore up the SM-Liiga last season and continued his torrid pace at the 2015 World Championships. He’ll line up for the Texas Stars to begin this season and I won’t be surprised if he gets a couple games with the big team. For Stephen Johns, he’s a sizeable two-way defenseman who would have slotted in the Blackhawks lineup this year. Where he fits with the Stars is to be determined. He has the talent to make the team out of training camp, however the Stars hands’ are tied at the moment with waiver eligible players.
What speaks to the overall depth of the Dallas Stars is the fact that Brett Ritchie is ranked outside the top five. Ritchie is a bulldog on skates and could find his way playing in the Stars’ top six if Ales Hemsky has another lackadaisical season. There’s no denying Ritchie’s goal scoring talent, but I’m not sure if his skating ability will hinder him from tickling the twine at the NHL level.
Former first-round picks Jamie Oleksiak and Jack Campbell find themselves ranked outside the top ten because they haven’t developed at a steady rate since being drafted. There are many questions that they will have to answer to over the course of this season. The contracts that each signed this week are considered “prove yourself” deals. The 2015-16 season is critical in determining where they are as they strive to be NHL regulars.
|2||Jason Dickinson||Center / Left Wing|
|3||Denis Guryanov||Right Wing|
|6||Brett Ritchie||Right Wing|
|13||Remi Elie||Left Wing|
|14||Cole Ully||Left Wing|
|15||Roope Hintz||Left Wing|
Have any questions? Check me out on Twitter, @brelyt
Come back to Frozen Futures tomorrow for the Top 20 Prospects: Anaheim Ducks