Scorers and score stoppers make up the majority of the Dallas Stars’ junior prospect contingent. With goaltenders Philippe Desrosiers and Brent Moran in prominent roles out east and noteworthy scorers like Cole Ully and Brett Pollock in the west, the Stars are represented well across Canadian Major Juniors. Many of their prospects have moved on from junior programs at this point and, as a result, they have fewer players developing in the CHL.
Philippe Desrosiers, G, Rimouski Oceanic
Acquired: 2nd round (54th overall), 2013
Following up on a strong season in 2013-14, Philippe Desrosiers is having a fine start to what should be his final junior season. He is not off to as slow a start as he was last season, either, where he did not get going until after the New Year. Armed with a 2.64 goals-against average, a mark good for third in the league, and a .891 save percentage, Desrosiers is considered one of the top flight goaltenders in the QMJHL. He also represented the league in front of his adoring fans at the Subway Super Series. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in fending off the Russians as the visitors took home the trophy. The hope was that he would get the chance to play for his country at the 2015 World Junior Championship, but Team Canada has pared their roster to two goaltenders not named Desrosiers.
Desrosiers is a quick butterfly goalie who moves and challenges well. His rebound control is advanced for his age. He gets in and out of his stance very quickly. He is a fairly tidy goalie overall, not often allowing pucks to sneak through him or to rebound off of him into problem areas.
Brent Moran, G, Niagara IceDogs
Acquired: 4th round (115th overall), 2014
With Niagara expected to challenge in the OHL’s Eastern Conference and Brent Moran sliding into the driver’s seat behind a quality defense, the table was set for a great season. However, Niagara has struggled mightily and more than one-third of the way through the season, the IceDogs have won just eight games. Moran, in particular, would appear to be a cause for concern. The big, athletic goalie has rarely been consistent in the early going and this prompted Niagara to acquire overage goaltender Brandon Hope from the Owen Sound Attack to help stabilize the position. Early indications are that Moran has responded well to the challenge that a veteran provides.
Still very much a raw prospect, Moran possesses a lot of athleticism and he is very active in the crease. He may be active to a fault, in fact, as he can sometimes lose his net by sliding all about and giving up leaky goals through his body. Certainly a work in progress who has an interesting array of tools and upside, perhaps the veteran acquisition can not only push him in the nets but also help him out with some technical aspects of the position.
Jason Dickinson, C/LW, Guelph Storm
Acquired: 1st round (29th overall), 2013
Jason Dickinson and his mates have big skates to fill in 2014-15. The defending OHL champs lost a number of players and hundreds of points from their lineup. So far, they have been unable to duplicate their gaudy offensive display of last season. No longer a five-goal-per-game club, they have tumbled down closer to the three-goal-per-game rate and most of the problem comes from not getting depth scoring. The two main duos: Robby Fabbri (STL) with Tyler Bertuzzi (DET) and Jason Dickinson with Pius Suter (2015 NHL Draft eligible) have accounted for much of the scoring, and even that latter duo has left a little to be desired. Dickinson, the club’s second-line center, has a respectable 24 points in 23 games so far, but has not taken his offensive game to the next level.
Still very much a viable two-way center, Dickinson would appear to have more in his tank than his offensive numbers would suggest. He is an all-situation player who does heavy lifting for a team with a lot of youth in its bottom rungs that have not been factors. With the team at a crossroads, anything could happen with regard to the roster make-up, but for right now Dickinson is captaining the last place team in the division who, on the plus side, is also a few games above .500.
Remi Elie, LW, Belleville Bulls
Acquired: 2nd round (40th overall), 2013
Liberated from a depth role in London, Remi Elie has really developed some offense in his game. He has found a little more to his game besides grinding goals off the cycle or net-front deflections. He moves the puck better than he did and sees the ice better. Elie leads the team in points with 31 in 30 games, on a Belleville team that scores by committee and plays a pretty passive game. The former second round selection is an all-situation player and projects to be something of a utility player.
The offensive upside is not necessarily thrilling with Elie. He has improved in nearly all facets, but his shot is still what will earn him points at the pro level. Still a somewhat sloppy skater, Elie will likely take some time to be a contributor unless he is thrust into a scoring role with elite players like Curtis McKenzie was last season in the AHL as a rookie. It is important for the heavy winger to not lose sight of the physicality that his game should employ most nights, as it has sometimes been lacking recently.
Aaron Haydon, D, Niagara IceDogs
Acquired: 6th round (154th overall), 2014
After a tough season in 2013-14, Haydon has rebounded nicely. He has four each of goals and assists through 28 games and is a respectable +2 on a team with a double-digit negative goal differential. He logs some heavy minutes and his presence is utilized to protect late leads. He is more a penalty kill man than he is a power play quarterback. The untapped offensive upside that was thought to exist may be tapping out sooner or later.
Haydon is a hulking defenseman who can skate well for a player of his ilk, so he covers a lot of ice. The biggest issues with Haydon are consistency and focus, as he struggled to finish defensive plays off the right way last year but is improving. Given the makeup of the team, the development of his puck skills has been somewhat lacking. But Haydon was drafted to be a tough, shutdown man and is making progress on that front.
Alex Peters, D, Plymouth Whalers
Acquired: 3rd round (75th overall), 2014
The new captain of the Plymouth Whalers unfortunately has been limited due to an early-season injury. Peters started out with promise, netting four helpers and a +2 rating in eight games. His season appears to be over following ACL surgery.
Patrick Sanvido, D, Windsor Spitfires
Acquired: 7th round (195th overall), 2014
Mammoth defenseman Patrick Sanvido is off and running in his third OHL season. The statistics suggest that he is not much of an offensive dynamo, and that is certainly true. No goals this season and a single red lam lighter in 150 OHL games can attest to that. He was a minus player nearly every single game in November (two games of 12 was he even or better) and has been a -12 since November 1st, which is worst on the team.
It is not all bad for Sanvido. He appears to have improved a bit overall. His defending is a little more consistent but it still is unclear what his strengths are from an NHL standpoint. He is not a skilled puck mover nor is he overly physical despite his tremendous size. If he could develop into a hybrid enforcer type, he may be able to carve out a niche, but that seems to be a long way off at this point. His aptitude for being a pure shutdown defenseman is still resting on shaky ground.
Cole Ully, LW/RW, Kamloops Blazers
Acquired: 5th round (131st overall), 2013
Slippery forward Cole Ully continues to impress on a greatly improved Kamloops club. If it were not for the peerless Kelowna duo of Rourke Chartier (SJS) and Nick Merkley (2015 draft-eligible), who are head and shoulders above the pack in WHL scoring, Ully would have a share of the league lead with 42 points in 29 games. At +16, he ranks top-10 in that category as well – unexpectedly perhaps, as the Blazers have hemorrhaged more than 100 goals this year and have a double-digit negative goal differential.
Ully is showing more maturity in his game as he becomes one of the veterans on the team. Not unlike last season, Ully is the lead purveyor of offensive awesomeness. Puck carrying, distributing, finishing, the slick winger can do it all. The fifth round selection in 2013 not only has the stick skills but his hockey sense is top notch, as well. He can lie in the weeds at either end of the ice and strike when appropriate. While he did participate in the Subway Super Series (2 points in 2 games), Ully was not part of Canada’s WJC camp.
Brett Pollock, LW/C, Edmonton Oil Kings
Acquired: 2nd round (45th overall), 2014
The defending Memorial Cup champs have, as is the usual case, lost a fair amount of the players that made them winners a year ago. But those losses have allowed a player like Brett Pollock to emerge into a more prominent role. The big center and left winger has not disappointed. He leads the team in goals with 13 and points with 28 and has a +14 rating. The 6-foot-3 Alberta native is evolving nicely and has become an all-situation player.
Pollock is getting smoother, craftier and more savvy as he accumulates ice time. From the wing, he can walk off the wall and create chances. As a heady center, he can create on the rush and distribute surprisingly well for a player who looks like more of the modern power winger. On a defensive-minded team, he has learned to support the puck better in the defensive zone and is willing to come back deep to keep pucks from getting behind Tristan Jarry (PIT). Pollock continues to be a very intriguing prospect at the junior level.
Dallas Stars Top Performing Non-Junior Prospect
On loan to Assat (Liiga), Esa Lindell has emerged as a young, top pairing defenseman in Finland’s top league. The 6-foot-2 Finn has been a revelation and is logging tremendous minutes in the process. Lindell is developing an offensive game and he is not afraid to pepper the net while cruising in on the rush. At the moment, he is one of just five 25+ minute rearguards in the entire league.
Dallas Stars Prospect of the Month
Curtis McKenzie has tracked upward so quickly after leaving the Miami University Redhawks that he is already seeing NHL time. He pointed in each AHL game in which he participated in October and then got the call to the show. He was used in more of a depth role by Dallas but adapted well, providing energy and physicality. McKenzie is developing into one of those highly-sought-after complementary scorers. A player that makes room for star players to do their thing and is not afraid to get dirty goals in dirty areas of the rink accurately describes that role and McKenzie’s game.