Stars prospects on the upswing

By Geoffrey Ussery

After camp, the task at hand for prospects in attendance is settling back
in with their teams and getting back to their game with a little more
insight into what the pros really take. The Stars, however, did not invite
any European prospects over to participate in their camps this year, and so
the Euros got a free pass on this sometimes bumpy process. It looks to have
worked wonders as some of the best prospect performances for the Stars are
coming from overseas.

In Sweden, the Stars have two youngsters who have ratcheted up their game
a notch for their teams, becoming dangerous weapons and valuable assets.
Joel Lundqvist is teaming with Carolina prospect Magnus Khanberg and
Detroit prospect Jari Tolsa to form one of the most dangerous lines in the
Swedish Elite League, which has been dubbed the “Kindergarten Line.” In
fact, the line was so dominating in the league that they all earned
invitations to join the Swedish National Team at the Karjala Cup tournament.
With his line mates’ aid, Lundqvist has become a legitimate threat when it
comes to burying and dishing the puck. Traditionally known as a playmaker,
Lundqvist is currently tied for second overall in goal-scoring and is sixth
overall in total points in the SEL. The addition of more finishing ability
to his already excellent skills and his physical, hard-working game can only
make him a more dynamic player down the line. However despite all the
promise, it is still early, and a lot could happen to derail this very
promising season.

The other bright spot in Sweden is coming from recently demoted AIK in
the second tier of the SEL. After playing for Sweden in the Four Nations U20
tournament for Sweden in September, where he was held pointless, Yared
Hagos
returned to AIK and began playing with Detroit prospect Andreas
Jämtin and a hodgepodge of other wingers. Despite the revolving door on the
other side, Hagos and Jämtin have combined to become an effective unit. Last
year, Hagos did not put up many points for AIK but still was solid enough to
remain on the big team’s roster. Benefiting from increased ice time, Hagos
has already bested his totals from last year in only a third of the number
of games played. Part of this may be due to AIK’s demotion, yet the
improvement is still significant enough to merit notice. If AIK does not
play well enough return to the SEL this year, Hagos will likely be signed by
a SEL team, where he will continue his development. Despite the marked
improvement, Hagos still has a little ways to go before he can be seriously
considered for the NHL, Dallas’s depth notwithstanding.

Russia has not been a fertile ground for Stars’ prospect success, yet one
player, frequently under the radar, is starting to challenge that. Dynamo
Moscow center Alexei Tereschenko has evolved into a constant threat
for the team significant enough to draw attention to free up the other lines
just a little because he has to be respected. Tereschenko had always been a
smart defensive player and a natural leader much like former Star Roman
Lyashenko but had his offensive ability questioned at times. Hampered
slightly by his attendance at the Stars’ Rookie Camp last year, Tereschenko
started slowly as he had to work his way back onto the team. However, his
season snowballed, and he ended up progressing in his development. Now,
Tereschenko is posting better point totals, including one four assist game,
and even neglecting that, has become a smart offensive player that can be
lethal if ignored. He still possesses a solid two-way game and is a good
team player as well. His evolution as a player is very promising, yet his
game is markedly similar to Niko Kapanen’s, so it might be hard for him to
break in with the Stars.

The fireworks are not limited to Europe alone, as out in Western Canada,
the Stars have a big surprise on their hands. Selected in the 5th round of
last year’s draft after opting out the year before because his season was
derailed due to a broken arm, David Bararuk has been nothing short of
amazing for the Moose Jaw Warriors after a solid Rookie Camp for the Stars.
Bararuk is currently second in total points in the WHL and leads the WHL in
assists. An extremely quick and offensively gifted player, Bararuk has done
a lot of damage on the power play, where he has posted 8 goals and 12
assists in 22 games played. He has been slightly weaker at even strength
only totaling 4 goals and 11 assists, perhaps because of his smallish size.
However, this disparity has shrunk as the season has gone on, so it might
also have been partly due to a readjustment to the WHL’s game. His smallish
size may limit his shot at the NHL, but altogether, Bararuk has shown great
potential and maybe with a little opening in the NHL style and hard work he
could become an effective player down the line. However, as shown by many
junior scorers, such as recent prospect Greg Leeb, their game does not
always translate to the NHL.

News and Notes

  • David Bararuk and Trevor Daley have been named to All-Star Teams for
    their conferences to participate at the Hershey Cup All Star Series starting
    Nov. 23 in Kitchener, ONT. Bararuk will represent the WHL East All-Stars,
    and Daley will represent the OHL West All-Stars.

  • Antti Miettinen and Joel Lundqvist were selected to participate for
    their countries in the Karjala Cup. Miettinen joins the Finnish squad for
    the third straight year while Lundqvist makes his first appearance on a
    men’s national team. Teemu Elomo was called in to replace an injured player
    for Finland but was not originally selected to the team.

  • Jussi Jokinen, Tuomas Mikkonen, and Yared Hagos were selected to
    participate for their countries in the U20 Four Nations Tournament. Jokinen
    and Mikkonen participate for Finland’s team, and Hagos joins the Swedish
    team.

  • Jarkko A. Immonen was selected to a challenger team to compete against
    a similar team from the Czech Republic. In three games, Immonen recorded 1
    goal and 3 assists in what were all Finnish victories.

  • Anthony Aquino, who was cleared to play in the OHL temporarily by an US
    court injunction after leaving Merrimack University, has been barred from
    play pending the OHL’s appeal hearing in another US court.

  • WHL.ca recently interviewed David Bararuk. The interview can be found
    here.

  • Russian Prospects editor and Hockey’s Future contributor Eugene
    Belashchenko featured Alexei Tereschenko in a recent column. You can read it
    here.