The first-year Texas Stars are still battling for their Calder Cup dreams with a very young roster featuring a substantial number of their prospects. In all, the Stars have had 13 of their 29 prospects play in the AHL or ECHL in 2009-10.
Matt Climie, G – Age: 27
Climie took on the majority of the starts for Texas in their inaugural season in the American Hockey League. In 42 games, Climie went 21-17-3 with a 2.46 GAA and .919 save percentage while recording three shutouts. While his numbers were more than respectable, on the defensive-minded Texas Stars most of the team’s goaltenders were able to put up similar or better seasons. Attesting to that fact, injury-plagued veteran Brent Krahn has played all but one period in the Calder Cup Playoffs for Texas. Both goalies (plus Richard Bachman and Tyler Beskorowany) should have the microscope on them in training camp next fall.
Aaron Gagnon, C – Age: 24
It’s been an impressive season for third-year pro Gagnon. For the first time, Gagnon is seeing big minutes at the AHL level and produced very well in a very defensive system. The former Coyote eighth-rounder led the Stars in goals (27), points (58) and plus/minus (plus-19) in 78 games. After a torrid finish to his season (that included a second call-up to Dallas), he has kept up his production into the early stages of the playoffs as well. Gagnon is a sound two-way presence who has the makings of a future role player at the NHL level or a veteran leader at the AHL level.
Luke Gazdic, LW – Age: 20
Former Erie Otter Gazdic has made the jump from the Ontario League to the American League. Somewhat predictably, the scoring is down and the penalty minutes are up. In just 49 AHL games this year, Gazdic registered three goals and an assist in the shadow of a team-best 155 penalty minutes. Like most pugilists, Gazdic spent most of the season on the fourth line or scratched all together. He did manage to participate in 21 fights over the course of the year.
Sergei Korostin, RW – Age: 20
With Ivan Vishnevskiy getting shipped off to Atlanta, Korostin was left as the lone Russian on the Texas Stars this season. Korostin is a speedy forward who gets in on the forecheck and has improved his puck skills over the course of the year. The former third rounder has found himself all over the Texas lineup but conspicuously out of it throughout these playoffs. He’ll need to work on his consistency, he had 13 goals on the year in 63 games but only netted one since Feb. 27.
Perttu Lindgren, C – Age: 22
It was a strong return performance for Lindgren who returned from his native Finland to lead Texas in helpers with 33. Lindgren spends most of his time at center as a setup man on the top two lines. At times in the playoffs, Lindgren has found himself on the second or third line, but is still producing quite well. He has six points through the first seven games in the postseason. Lindgren will get a strong look in Dallas camp next year, especially with a great playoff performance down in the AHL.
Trevor Ludwig, D – Age: 25 (on May 24)
The Providence College grad got his first chance at substantial AHL minutes for the first time in his professional career. Ludwig was even through 47 games while posting three goals and five assists. Once again, Ludwig saw some time in the ECHL where he saw more ice time and provided six points in 14 games while being a plus-6. That was probably the last stint Craig Ludwig’s son will see at the ECHL level and now he hopes to progress to an NHL/AHL guy as opposed to an AHL/ECHL blueliner.
Raymond Sawada, RW – Age: 25
2004 draftee Sawada has continued to assume his depth role down in Texas. Sawada put together another average offensive season, just eight goals and 19 points in 60 games and a pointless five games up in Dallas. Sawada did spend a great deal of time in the sin bin this year though compared to years past – triple the amount of time in fact. He has chipped in some points in the playoffs while providing excellent forechecking pressure. He could find himself in Dallas next year with a strong camp.
Colton Sceviour, RW – Age: 21
Sceviour is yet another Stars prospect who is making his professional debut. The Red Deer native put up a respectable 31 points in 80 games this year. Sceviour’s scoring cooled off a bit after a mildly hot start, but he is a determined worker with good defensive awareness. While it’s unlikely that he’ll bring the same offensive output that he produced in Lethbridge (WHL), Sceviour is another Stars forward who should be able to provide solid depth down the road.
Tyler Shelast, RW – Age: 25
It’s been an uphill struggle for Shelast the entire way up to this point. Undrafted, he went the distance at Michigan Tech, spent most of his 2008-09 campaign in the ECHL and in 2009-10 wasn’t able to gain steady footing at the AHL level either. In fact, he even saw some time in the Central Hockey League with the Allen Americans (three points in five games). He’s hit restricted free agent status for the first time in his career but it looks like it might be the end of the road for him in the Stars organization, especially considering how much his qualifying offer would have to be to retain his rights.
Mathieu Tousignant, C – Age: 20
Tousignant earned an entry-level deal following his efforts in both the ECHL and AHL in 2009-10. Tousignant’s seven points in 45 AHL games may not seem too impressive, but he’s not a flashy offensive forward. Quite the contrary in fact, he’s a pesky grinder who loves to agitate the opposition. His goal is to try to goad the other team into penalties, even though he often finds himself in the penalty box instead (115 penalty minutes in two different leagues this year). Tousignant was left undrafted after playing for three QMJHL teams but has found a home in the Stars organization.
Richard Bachman, G – Age: 22
Bachman forewent his final two seasons at Colorado College to move to the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. He split time this year with veteran Rejean Beauchemin but Bachman outplayed him for most of the season. A 22-7-4 record coupled with a 2.28 GAA and .910 save percentage along with four shutouts. Bachman has gotten the nod for the Kelly Cup Playoffs and has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s won six of seven with a 1.30 GAA and .953 save percentage as the Steelheads are pushing for another title.
Guillaume Monast, D – Age: 22
Another undrafted find for the Stars organization, Monast has worked on his defensive game in the ECHL this season. Monast had just six assists in 68 games this year for the Steelheads while being a steady defensive force and shot blocker. Most impressively, Monast was second among all ECHL rearguards in plus/minus at plus-30.
Michael Neal, LW – Age: 21
Predictably, the younger brother of James Neal, Michael, spent much of his first pro season in the ECHL with Idaho. The crunching grinder recorded 15 points in 57 games. He saw six games at the AHL level where he garnered zero points and a minus-2. Forget living under his brother James’ shadow, Neal has to first establish himself as a bona fide ECHLer before too long.