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Future Watch – Dallas Stars: Stuck in the middle

Being good but not great has left Dallas with a small pool of impact prospects, which hurts in many ways.
Vivid Eye Photography

Vivid Eye Photography

B- / 20th overall

With many mid-first-round picks in the past few years, Dallas has plenty of decent prospects in the development system. The lingering question, however, is the ceiling for those players. Aside from can’t-miss pick Miro Heiskanen, who has already graduated to the NHL, the Stars haven’t recently drafted any game-breaking talent into their youth pool. Forwards make up the majority of Dallas’ top echelon, but few project for anything better than bottom-six NHL duty. A lack of blue-chippers limits the Stars’ ability to get big deals done and puts them in a position to reach on free agents, sometimes unwisely so.

DAL_Trend

1. Jason Robertson (44th overall)
RW, 19, 6-2, 200 – Niagara (OHL)
56–43–62–105–40
2017 draft, 39th overall
Robertson has had a big OHL season and was a point-per-game player at the 2019 WJC, but the root of that success came last year in the AHL. On a tryout with Texas, Robertson “got his eyes opened with the talent and fitness level ofplayers.” He began training with Gary Roberts and is a different player, fitness-wise, but the skating still needs work. “It was important for him to see himself in the same boat as all those top talented players,” said Dallas assistant GM Scott White.
FW18| No. 9 – NHL | 2020-21

2. Ty Dellandrea (47th overall)
C, 18, 6-1, 190 – Flint (OHL)
54–20–37–57–47
2018 draft, 13th overall
Dellandrea’s OHL season has been great for him on an individual level. However, Flint has been basically out of contention since October. The Firebirds are leaning heavily on Dellandrea, using him in every zone, and he takes the majority of the team’s faceoffs. Dellandrea is a “complete player” in the eyes of White, who applauds the center’s battling spirit. Dellandrea needs to work on his play in the defensive zone and also said he wants to improve his skating and speed.
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2020-21

3. Denis Gurianov (71st overall)
RW, 21, 6-2, 195 – Texas (AHL)
39–14–23–37–10
2015 draft, 12th overall
After being a healthy scratch during the 2018 Calder Cup final, Gurianov is an entirely different player. Once thought a first-round bust, he has spent time in Dallas this year on a line with Roope Hintz. Gurianov realized his skating speed was his greatest weapon, and he has put it on display in the AHL, blowing by defenders and scoring highlight-reel goals. He has spent time on the penalty kill as he rounds out his defensive game. He’ll soon graduate to full-time NHLer.
FW18| No. 4 – NHL | 2019-20

4. Roope Hintz (85th overall)
LW, 22, 6-3, 215 – Texas (AHL)
21–9–13–22–10
2015 draft, 49th overall
Hintz is another player likely to graduate from the prospect ranks by the end of the season. He was one of the last AHL assignments out of camp and was recalled shortly thereafter. Often combined with Gurianov to form a lethal combo in the AHL, he’s reprising his role as a speedy winger-center in the NHL, also paired with Gurianov. Hintz has a nearly complete game at this point, and he played in all situations in the AHL. He just needs more NHL ice time to get into the flow of things.
FW18| No. 5 – NHL | 2019-20

5. Jake Oettinger (91st overall)
G, 20, 6-5, 205 – Boston University (HE)
14–13–4, 2.39, .930 `
2017 draft, 26th overall
Dallas made a case for Oettinger to leave college in the summer, but he decided to stay for his junior NCAA year. “BU is having a down year, and he’s seen more rubber,” White said. “His game in the second half has taken off.” Oettinger wants to improve his stickhandling, while Dallas will look to sign him this spring and have him forego his senior season. Standard goalie caveats apply as Oettinger will need to marinate in the AHL before becoming a backup option in Dallas.
FW18| No. 7 – NHL | 2022-23

6. Albin Eriksson
RW, 18, 6-4, 207 – Skelleftea (Swe.)
41–8–7–15–29
2018 draft, 44th overall
Heavy right shot who can skate. Big frame. He needs to develop in all areas.

7. Riley Tufte
LW, 20, 6-6, 230 – Minn-Duluth (NCHC)
32–6–9–15–30
2016 draft, 25th overall
Goal-scoring is down for junior winger, but board work and skating have improved.

8. Joseph Cecconi
D, 21, 6-2, 205 – Michigan (Big Ten)
34–3–17–20–24
2015 draft, 133rd overall
Stock is rising for unsigned senior, the shutdown partner to Quinn Hughes.

9. Nicholas Caamano
RW, 20, 6-2, 195 – Texas (AHL)
57–7–11–18–64
2016 draft, 146th overall
Overall solid rookie pro season. Stars would love to see more scoring.

10. Rhett Gardner
C, 23, 6-3, 207 – North Dakota (NCHC)
33–8–6–14–67
2016 draft, 116th overall
Continuously improving hard-nosed center. Senior will go pro in AHL this spring.

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