Stars junior prospects 2008-09 review

By Mike Farkas

The Dallas Stars presently hold the rights to 10 junior players. The prospects have had mixed results this season, but the Stars have struck gold in the WHL

QMJHL


Guillaume Monast, D – Quebec Remparts

Undrafted free agent
Ht/Wt: 6’2, 206 lbs. – Born: 5/12/88

Undrafted free agent Monast has registered career highs in assists (38) and points (43) in 63 games with Quebec this season. With the Remparts making it to the postseason, Monast will have a chance to add to his 32 games of playoff experience.  The “second season” has treated Monast quite well in his career. He averages half a point per game in the playoffs, which compares favorably against his regular-season figures. 

Monast has progressed very nicely this season into an excellent all-around, two-way defenseman. He leads team blueliners in assists and points, while he places third in plus-minus (+25) and hits. Monast has good size and physicality and also likes to fire the biscuit. Despite his aptness for shooting, he can also dish the puck well. In fact, he set a club record by being the first defenseman to notch five assists in a single game. He seems set to transition smoothly into the pro game next season.

OHL

Tyler Beskorowany, G – Owen Sound Attack
2nd round (59th overall) in 2008
Ht/Wt: 6’5, 199 lbs. – Born: 4/28/90

It’s been a rough year for Beskorowany and the Attack once again. This time though, Beskorowany ended up splitting time with Scott Stajcer (2009 eligible) who played well for Owen Sound this season. The split was virtually right down the middle (37 to 35 games played in favor of Beskorowany). However, the better numbers went to Stajcer by just a bit. Down the stretch, Stajcer took more time from Beskorowany. And after a dreadful performance in Game 1 of their opening-round series against Windsor, Beskorowany was yanked for the final time this year (surrendering five goals on 23 shots in 27 minutes). Stajcer took over for the remainder of the playoffs and oversaw the Attack going down in straight sets to the Spitfires (7-4, 7-5, 6-1, 6-3).

Once again this season, Beskorowany was under constant siege. The Stars first pick in 2008 faced an average of 37 shots a night in addition to having to fight through his inconsistent play and issues with confidence. There seems to be a fair amount of frustration from Beskorowany and for good reason. Some nights saw the Hanmer, Ontario native standing on his head and stealing wins for the Attack with one excellent glove save after another. While other nights saw a somewhat timid Beskorowany dropping down too early and surrendering some soft goals that led to him getting yanked and a loss. Despite turning down inquiries for him at the trade deadline, the Attack and Beskorowany may have to make a decision on their future together with the likelihood of Stajcer becoming the starter next season. 

Luke Gazdic, LW – Erie Otters
6th round (172nd overall) in 2007
Ht/Wt: 6’3, 228 lbs. – Born: 7/25/89

Gazdic was able to crack the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his junior career. His third year with the Otters saw him top his previous career high in points (29) by just one – a goal in the final game of the regular season.  Make no mistake about it though, Gazdic will almost certainly not be a consistent goal scorer at the next level – if he makes it there. To his credit, however, he has shown a good nose for the net for a tough guy.

Gazdic certainly isn’t shy about dropping the mitts. He found a sparring partner 11 times this season and led the Otters in penalty minutes with 127. He’s also not shy about dishing out some heavy, and at times, questionable hits. The Otters pugilist is getting his first taste of playoff hockey, which comes at a good time for Gazdic as he looks to secure a contract from the Stars. 


Sergei Korostin, RW – Peterborough Petes

3rd round (64th overall) in 2007
Ht/Wt: 5’11, 185 lbs. – Born: 7/5/89

A rookie to the OHL, Korostin started the season with the London Knights. However, an early season trade sent him to a decidedly weaker Peterborough club. But Korostin stood to benefit from an increased role with his new team. The Russian winger notched 29 points in 36 regular-season games and helped the Petes sneak into the playoffs. 

Korostin is still prone to inconsistency. He shows excellent skating ability and good technical skills but tends to give the puck away on too many occasions. He showed a little bit more than usual after his stint with Russia in the World Junior Championships. However, he faded a bit down the stretch, notching just one point in the month of March. It seems likely that Korostin will move to the AHL next season. 

Michael Neal, LW – Sarnia Sting
5th round (149th overall) in 2007
Ht/Wt: 6’3, 205 lbs. – Born: 4/3/89

Just three scoreless games into the season, Neal was moved to Sarnia. Neal set career highs in goals (9), assists (12) and points (21) bu,t it wasn’t hard for him to accomplish that task after his previous campaigns. From the third line, the big forward tried to work himself into a goal scorer’s role, but was relatively unsuccessful. He resumed his rough and tumble style of play much like his older brother James (who, of course, has been with Dallas this season).

He has shown some progress this year; but he’ll still be known as “James’ little brother” for the time being. He simply doesn’t have the scoring touch that his brother has. Neal is a smart player who uses his size along the wall pretty well. He knows that if he wants goals, he’ll have to go to the net and dig them out. Neal has not secured an entry-level contract, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that remained unchanged. 

WHL


Jamie Benn, LW – Kelowna Rockets

5th round (129th overall) in 2007
Ht/Wt: 6’2, 203 lbs. – Born: 7/18/89

Benn has really put his name on the map in the hockey world. Benn led the WHL in goals per game and was fifth in overall goals scored (46 in 56 games). The Kelowna sniper lost some games this season due to injury and playing for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. Benn scored four goals on 10 shots in his six games for Canada as they captured the gold.  Simply put, Benn has been fantastic this season. He’s established himself as one of the premier players of the WHL. 

Benn is a pure goal scorer who is willing to go to the net and bury opportunities. He has a quick release and a hard, accurate shot. His defensive game needs some tweaking, but it has improved somewhat this season. His skating remains a concern, but he picks his spots very well at both ends of the rink. Benn has been dominant in the playoffs. He has scored 10 points in four games, leading Kelowna in their sweep of Kamloops. 

Ondrej Roman, C/LW – Spokane Chiefs
5th round (136th overall) in 2007
Ht/Wt: 6’0, 173 lbs. – Born: 2/8/89

Roman’s season saw him playing in the Czech Republic’s top league due to transfer issues involving the CHL. Roman managed to get back to North America and wasted no time getting back in the swing of things. He became one of just three Chiefs to post a point per game this season (32 in 32). Roman also represented the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships. He had a very good tournament, registering eight points in six games. He placed second on the team in points and first in assists and plus/minus. 

Roman is a playmaking winger with slick hands. His passing skills are among the best in the Western League. He can also whip pucks into the net, especially at odd angles. He finds himself on a line with Drayson Bowman and Brady Calla most nights and it has become one of the better lines in the WHL. He has become a good player defensively as well and finds himself on PK duty. Roman is a prime candidate to head up the new AHL team that the Stars will introduce next season. 

Colton Sceviour, C/RW – Lethbridge Hurricanes
4th round (112th overall) in 2007
Ht/Wt: 6’0, 200 lbs. – Born: 4/20/89

Sceviour completed his first full season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and he certainly built on the successes that he accumulated after being dealt from Portland in 2007. Sceviour led the team in points, by a margin of 20. He was consistently one of the better forwards in not only Lethbridge but the entire league. 

Sceviour is an excellent playmaker and a consistent point getter. He isn’t flashy and it’s yet to be seen if he can elevate his game to the next level. There isn’t a lot that makes Sceviour stand out; he very quietly snuck into the WHL’s top 20 in scoring though. It doesn’t seem terribly likely that Sceviour’s potent scoring will translate into the pro game, but we’ll find that out next year in all likelihood.


Matt Tassone, C – Swift Current Broncos

6th round (176th overall) in 2008
Ht/Wt: 6’2, 200 lbs. – Born: 9/28/89

Saying that Tassone has a nose for the net became quite the understatement this year. Tassone finished second on the team in goals with 36, one short of linemate Keegan Dansereau (who had 17 games at hand on Tassone). Unfortunately, the breakout year for Tassone was cut short by a shoulder injury. 

Tassone cracked the century mark in PIMs for the second straight year. He’s a gritty forward that is more than willing to drop the gloves. He’s willing to drive the net to get goals. He has been a surprisingly consistent scoring threat – including five multi-goal games. Tassone was the captain for Swift Current for the month of December. 

USHL

Scott Winkler, C – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
3rd round (89th overall) in 2008
Ht/Wt: 6’2, 195 lbs. – Born: 2/22/90

Winkler debuted with Cedar Rapids this season and has performed quite well. In 53 games, Winkler has picked up 10 goals and 35 points. He finished fifth on the team in scoring, in what will be his only season in the USHL. The Norwegian forward was a mainstay on the power play. 

Winkler is a good skater and a determined individual. He’s brings a responsible game to both ends of the rink. Winkler hasn’t yet found a niche and is still playing at a lower-level program, so it makes it difficult to project his future success in the professional game.