The Dallas Stars are slowly restocking their prospect cupboard. The Stars spent all five of their 2009 draft picks on offense to bolster the top-end talent in the system. The defensemen in the system are sparse, but their top two – both offensive minded – are high-end talents. The organization’s goaltending has a lot to prove this season after a decidedly mediocre, if not disappointing, season in 2008-09.
The Stars goaltending pool lacks a blue-chipper, as well as youth. This will be an area that will need to be restocked in the 2010 draft.
Tyler Beskorowany, after splitting time in Owen Sound last year, has found a new home in Kingston. Beskorowany is the unquestioned starter for the Frontenacs in the early going of the 2009-10 season and has played fairly well.
Richard Bachman has signed a professional contract and is now with Idaho of the ECHL. The smallish, athletic goaltender left Colorado College on a relatively sour note compared to his outstanding freshman season.
Defensemen in the system are scarse, but topping the list is 21-year-old Ivan Vishnevskiy. Three years a Rouyn-Noranda Husky (QMJHL), Vishnevskiy turned pro and played in the American League in 2008-09. The offensive defenseman, his howitzer in tow, has joined the Texas Stars this year and will likely see some time in the big league this year if he can improve his defense.
The other smooth-skating gem that the Stars possess is the 19-year-old Philip Larsen from Denmark. The speedy, skilled dynamo turned professional full time last year with Vastra Frolunda (SEL) and put up some gaudy numbers for a junior-age player. While his club boasts a deep blueline, Erik Karlsson (OTT) has moved on to the NHL and that should allow even more ice time for the young Larsen.
A couple of undrafted QMJHL defensemen also reside in the Dallas ranks. Guillaume Monast, the 6’2 two-way rearguard, is assigned to Idaho. The more recently signed defenseman is Hubert Labrie. The 5’11, 178-pound defenseman (a touch generous), is set to have a breakout season as an 18-year-old. He has seven points in 13 games so far for Gatineau.
The Stars, somewhat surprisingly, went with the highly-talented winger from Brandon with their first pick in 2009 – Scott Glennie. The speedy sniper was the less-heralded of the Brayden Schenn/Scott Glennie combo, but that’s more of a testament to Schenn’s giftedness than a knock on Glennie’s talent level. With their second pick in 2009, the Stars went with a right winger once more in Alex Chiasson. Chiasson joined Boston University in 2009-10 (with quite the auspicious start, two goals in his first collegiate game). The rangy sniper has excellent hands but some feel he needs to show a greater commitment to the game.
Raymond Sawada, Sergei Korostin, Colton Sceviour and Tyler Shelast are all at the pro level this season. With the new AHL affiliate, these players benefit strongly from not having to be shipped around on various loans or to the ECHL. Sawada, the rugged Western Canadian winger, has the best chance of being recalled to the Stars over the course of the year – not to mention the late-season cup of coffee he was awarded in 2008-09.
Smiths Reilly and Austin will spend their 2009-10 campaigns at the collegiate level. Reilly, the 2009 draft pick, gets his chance at Miami University of Ohio after his breakout season with the Triple A club in St. Michael’s. Austin, meanwhile, will join Colgate for the second consecutive season. Just about to turn 21, Austin Smith put up an impressive 17 goals last season in 37 games.
Former top import pick, Tomas Vincour‘s stock is rising. The Czech power forward is off to a hot start with his third season with Edmonton in the WHL and has some of the highest untapped potential in the system.
The highest rated center left in the pipeline is Ondrej Roman. Due to IIHF transfer issues last season, Roman split time between Spokane (WHL) and HC Vitkovice (Cze-E). This season, Roman plans to spend the whole year in the top Czech league – however, it’s been a sluggish start.
Tom Wandell, after a rather unorthodox recall from Sweden last season, started the year with the Dallas Stars. Another player who has returned from Scandinavia, Perttu Lindgren, has appeared in relief of Brad Richards this regular season for Dallas after spending the prior year in Finland with Lukko Rauma. Meanwhile, Swift Current Bronco Matt Tassone is still battling a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out until December.
Scott Winkler, the Norwegian who has bounced around quite a bit in recent years, has found a home with the Tigers of Colorado College. Winkler keeps on moving up through increasingly skilled competition and looks to spend a few years in Colorado before turning pro. Fellow NCAAer Nico Sacchetti commences his sophomore season as a Golden Gopher in Minnesota. Sacchetti was a victim of being a freshman on a talented team last season and hopes to earn more ice time in 2009-10.
Additionally, Aaron Gagnon has finally gotten his first taste of NHL action in 2009-10. He will, however, see a lot of time with Texas (AHL). The 23-year-old center is already a five-year WHL and two-year AHL vet and can bring some much-needed leadership to a rather inexperienced new club.
Finally gaining his well-deserved recognition, Jamie Benn is excelling early on at the NHL level. At every level, Benn continues to score and while he may end up splitting time between the AHL and NHL, he’s making an awfully strong case to remain in the big leagues – fresh out of juniors no less.
Curtis McKenzie, one of the more heralded sixth rounders in 2009, has moved on from Penticton (BCHL) to Miami of Ohio where he will team up with fellow Stars prospect Reilly Smith. The 18-year-old power forward will continue to develop under the tutelage of head coach Enrico Blasi. The Stars may have plucked yet another late-round steal out of Western Canadian Junior ‘A’ hockey.
Michael Neal, the little brother of James, has earned a professional contract despite an injury shortened junior career. Neal is currently assigned to Idaho.
Luke Gazdic, the former Erie tough guy, will be sent to the minors (likely the AHL) after he recovers from a shoulder injury. Gazdic has a legitimate shot at become a fourth liner at the NHL level with a good showing in Texas this season.
Fabian Brunnstrom should graduate from the prospect list before the end of the month. The goal-scoring Swede needs to continue to gain the trust of the Stars management and coaching staff in order to receive a gradual increase in meaningful ice time.