Many Dallas Stars prospects prepared for breakthrough seasons in 2014-15

By Mike Farkas
Aaron Haydon - Niagara IceDogs

Photo: Niagara IceDogs defenseman and Dallas Stars prospect Aaron Haydon did not have as strong a season as expected in 2013-14 but still had his name called at the 2014 NHL Draft (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

 

Chock full of high-end prospects and support-level players as well, the Dallas Stars organization features an eclectic mix of young players eager to take another step towards a National Hockey League career. One need not look further than the first three players on their big board without realizing the diverse blend of talent in the system: an athletic goaltender, a fluid, young two-way defenseman and a burgeoning power forward. General manager Jim Nill and his staff must be brimming with pride and excitement as their prospect group embarks upon another developmental year.

Pro

Top Pro Prospect
Jack Campbell, G, Texas Stars (AHL)

On or near the top of the heap since being the 11th selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, Campbell has really started tapping into his tremendous upside since turning pro in 2012-13. Last season, he was injured, but flashed a 16-game stretch where he surrendered less than a goal and a half per game and a .942 efficiency rating. Nothing has been handed to the athletic netminder since being drafted, his junior career was a fairly inconsistent affair and as a pro, the Stars have made him work for his keep. To that point, he will once again be challenged by a European veteran – this time, Jussi Rynnas, the valedictorian of the Finnish League last year. The Stars have had some turnover, but a healthy Campbell might be enough to offset the transition as Texas attempts to repeat as AHL Champs.

NHL-Bound Prospect
Patrik Nemeth, D, Dallas Stars (NHL)

The second pick in 2010, Patrik Nemeth is well on his way to the big show. Though he has been stricken with the injury bug here and again, Nemeth got his first taste of NHL action in the games that matter the most. He played exclusively in April, including five games in the Stars first round series against Anaheim. The big Swede skates well for his size and has gained more confidence in joining the rush – including the Calder Cup clincher in June. Defensively, he has proven to be very sound and he is apt at moving the puck out of danger. With the Stars blueline in transition and without strong pillars, the door is open for Nemeth to be an NHL regular this year.

Unsigned for 2015-16
Scott Glennie, C/RW, Texas Stars (AHL)

After a respectable season and quality output, it seemed as if Scott Glennie had finally started turning the corner. 15 goals was the most of the third-year-pro’s career, 10 points in 20 playoff games compared to just one tally in the previous 15 postseason attempts. The former eighth overall selection is improving defensively as well. He was the recipient of an offer short of his qualifying tender in the summer and now has been an early cut from NHL camp. Glennie went unclaimed through waivers and will get a chance to further craft his game in the AHL with the hopes of being a top priority call-up. The former Wheat King will be 24 this season and on an expiring contract with no guarantee that current management will continue to invest in a high draft pick from a previous regime.

Juniors

Top Junior Prospect
Jason Dickinson, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)

After the Storm had run amok in the OHL to the tune of five-goals-per-game, Jason Dickinson will have his hands full trying to match Guelph’s lofty output from last season. Dickinson and 2014 selection Robby Fabbri will be the focal point of the club’s offense this time around. Dickinson is a former first round pick himself and he can certainly handle the load. A gifted skater with great anticipation, Dickinson can finish and dish with the best of them in the Ontario circuit. He is tracking towards being a terrific find for the Stars, who have hunted for center depth in their prospect ranks for some time.

Bounceback Prospect
Aaron Haydon, D, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

It was a tough season for defenseman Aaron Haydon in 2013-14. He took a boatload of penalties, did not really improve his scoring pace and yielded a plethora of goals. The only solace he can take – and it’s not minor – is that his name was called by an NHL club at the 2014 draft. While Haydon is still a raw player, he also got a raw deal last season. If he progresses further, which he seems to be on the cusp of doing, and gets a little less bad luck going against him this year, he could really be an impact player on a team projected to be a contender in the East. The IceDogs are returning much of their young pack from 2013-14, including Haydon, who will be a top-four d-man. The sixth round pick is still finding his way and it is yet to be seen what kind of player he will exactly turn out to be. If last season is any indication, he may turn out to be more on the defensive/physical side – but he will be given every opportunity to impress upon the scoresheet regularly.

Offensive Breakout
Brent Moran, G, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

Another IceDog seems poised to improve now that he has given the green light to own the crease. Giant netminder Brent Moran took over late in the 2014 season and was stupendous in the near upset of the North Bay Battalion. This season, he will have a more experienced defense in front of him and it might allow him to feel more confident in playing outside of his crease. Like some big, athletic goaltenders, they can kind of get tucked away close to the goal line at times. Moran spends a lot of the contest on his knees and he can drop early. The combination of going down early and sitting deep in the cage can yield problems, but Moran will have a lot of minutes to craft his game and really strengthen the organization’s depth in net.

Amateur

Top Amateur Prospect
Devin Shore, C, University of Maine (NCAA)

Devin Shore has been littered with accolades since suiting up with the Black Bears. He has been dominating the scoresheet, dominating special teams, MVP of the team, Hockey East honors and peerless grades to boot. Coming in as a junior, Shore will be the captain of the Maine squad and will have his sights set on Hobey Baker candidacy to – conceivably – cap his collegiate career. Shore is a pretty complete and competitive package. Maybe not the most fleet of foot player, but with his hockey sense, it’s not necessary to be a burner to be effective. Not to take anything away from Shore, as he is easily a top-10 prospect in the system, but he is the only active collegiate player who has taken an NCAA shift left in the organization.

Freshman to Watch
Michael Prapavessis, D, RPI (NCAA)

Committed to college, despite an OHL offer from the venerable London Knights, Prapavessis should turn some heads early and often. He is not a big bruiser, he is not an Erik Karlsson flash expert, but he is as smart as they come. He can skate well and has amazing vision on the rink. The Dallas fourth round pick was the best defenseman in the Ontario Junior A circuit and his team won the league championship. He did better than an assist per game in his 47 games at that level; however, the offense may not come immediately for the heady rearguard. Defensively, though, he should adjust quickly, as most smart players are able to do. The issue will be his ability to box out and handle the hyper-physical nature of the NCAA game.

Europe

Top European Prospect
Ludvig Bystrom, D, Farjestad (SHL)

With 2014 first round pick Julius Honka being redirected to the AHL, as opposed to Finland, Swedish defenseman Ludvig Bystrom takes the spot as the Stars top European prospect. The Stars second round pick in 2012 is much closer to the rest of the pack than Honka, respectfully, but he has some untapped upside certainly. He transferred from MODO (SHL) last season and registered a career-best 11 points and plus-10 rating. A good skater with a snappy little shot, Bystrom can contribute in a lot of different ways. What exactly he will bring to the North American game is yet to be determined, but with an entry-level contract already in hand, it’s only a matter of time before we find out. Not a shy player on the rink, onlookers are hoping for a big step forward in the maturity and completeness of his game.

Offensive Breakout
Niklas Hansson, D, Rogle (Allsvenskan)

Upstart defenseman Niklas Hansson enjoyed his first full season in the professional ranks of Sweden last season for Rogle. One of the top teams in the second-tier, his mates fought hard for promotion into the SHL but came up just shy. Hansson’s 10 points in the Kvalserien really turned some heads and has him on the precipice of really emerging as one of the better young defenders in Allsvenskan. An offensive-minded player with great vision, Hansson will have his jersey stitched with an “A” this coming season as a 19-year-old. Certainly a lofty honor for a young player and Hansson will be counted on to handle a lot of minutes in many situations this season.

First Year European
Dmitry Sinitsyn, D, Dynamo Balashikha (VHL)

It has certainly been an interesting development route to date for the young Russian defenseman. Sinitsyn was found in the Stars backyard with the local U16 team, then visa issues prevented him from playing in North America during his draft year and he was held to a handful of MHL-B games. Then he was a regular scratch for UMass-Lowell in 2012-13 before being snagged in the CHL Import Draft by Regina (WHL) and emerging as a top pairing WHL defender. Out of all that, the Stars are able to retain the rights to the hard-shooting defender for more than two years. However, he would occupy both an overage and an import spot on any major junior club – as a result, he is off to the VHL, a league that is a tier below the KHL. With his overall skill set, Sinitsyn should not have too much trouble with the level of competition. While this environment may aid his technical skills, it may not be too much help to his overall game as the league employs a mess of solo rushes and one-on-one movers and shakers. The Stars will keep tabs on the trilingual Russian and determine if he is worthy of an entry-level contract.

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