Stars training camp preview

By HF Staff

Unlike in past years, the Dallas Stars are not holding a rookie camp before main training camp to help youngsters ramp up. Rookies will report along with veterans on Sept. 12.

Among the 51 players invited to camp are two 2005 draft picks, forwards James Neal (33rd overall) and Richard Clune (71st overall).

Coming and going

There was a frenzy of signings for the Stars this summer, as the team looks to fill out its own AHL roster. Last season they sent a handful of prospects to two teams after breaking up with their previous sole affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies. Dallas will have many new faces at the AHL level this year, a good number of them from Europe.

Dallas signed all three of its 2003 CHL draft picks this summer, Shawn Belle (originally taken by St. Louis), Brandon Crombeen and Francis Wathier, all three to a standard three-year entry level contract.

Center Yared Hagos, 22, and right wing Janos Vas, 21, were signed to two-year contracts. Hagos was a third round selection in 2001 and had 21 points in 49 games with Timra of the SEL last season. Vas was a second round pick in 2002, and had 17 points in 39 games in the Swedish Second Division in 2004-05. A Hungary native, an entire country will be watching his progress in North America this year.

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Center Jussi Jokinen, 22, was signed to a two-year contract, while left wing Loui Eriksson, 20, goaltender Tobias Stephan, 21, and defenseman Niklas Grossman, 20, were signed to three-year deals. Jokinen, a sixth round pick in 2001, had 47 points in 56 games with Karpat Oulu of the Finnish Elite League. Eriksson, a second round pick in 2003, had 14 points in 39 games with Frolunda of the SEL. Stephan, a second round pick in 2002, had a 2.82 GAA and a 19-20-5 record with the Kloten Flyers of the Swiss National League last season. Grossman, a second round pick in 2004, had two points in 31 games with Sodertalje of the SEL in 2004-05.

Goaltenders Dan Ellis, 25, and Mike Smith, 23, both accepted one-year qualifying offers.

The organization also picked up 20-year-old free agent defenseman Mario Scalzo. The new NHL rules will emphasize skating, and that’s something this 5’9 defenseman does very well. He had 74 points in 62 games in the QMJHL last season.

Ned Havern, a ninth round pick in 2002, was not signed by the August 15th deadline, but has been invited to Stars training camp. The forward had 22 points in 40 games for Boston College last season.

Fredrik Naslund, a fourth round pick in 2004, is unsigned but will attend training camp. Though 19, the forward is eligible to play in the minor leagues this season since he was drafted out of Europe.

Free agent invitees

Besides Havern, the other invitees to camp are forwards Rob Hisey, Jamie Johnson, goaltender Steve Silverthorn and defenseman Brian Fahey.

Rob Hisey, 5’8, scored 86 points in 66 games last season for the Erie Otters and Barrie Colts. He joined the ECHL Reading Royals for the playoffs, where he had four points in seven games. Hisey will turn 21 this month.

Jamie Johnson is another undersized scorer. He had 100 points in 68 games his last season with Oshawa in 2002-03, and has spent the last two years in the ECHL. In 2004-05 he had 80 points in 72 games for the Augusta Lynx.

Silverthorn spent four years at Colgate University. The 24-year-old had a .921 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA last season.

Brian Fahey, also 24, was drafted by Colorado in 2000. He played four years at the University of Wisconsin, turning pro in 2003-04. Since then he has played 34 AHL games with the Worcester IceCats and Hershey Bears, as well as 101 ECHL games with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies.

None of these invitees are likely to be offered contracts with the big club, but instead end up with one of the Stars minor league affiliates.

New AHL and ECHL affiliates

Last season, Dallas split their AHL prospects between the Houston Aeros and the Hamilton Bulldogs, and their ECHL affiliate was the Louisiana IceGators. This season, they begin a five-year affiliation agreement with an AHL team in Des Moines, Iowa, that bears the same moniker. Dallas will direct all hockey operations decisions for the team, meaning choices on coaches, players, and ice time. The Edmonton Oilers will send up to seven prospects to Iowa as part of a one-year agreement.

The Iowa Stars held a development camp at the Stars facilities in Frisco, Texas for one week in July. Around 35 of Dallas’ prospects attended.

Top prospects likely to play in Iowa include Shawn Belle, Jussi Jokinen, Loui Eriksson, and Niklas Grossman. Dan Ellis will likely man the pipes alongside an Edmonton keeper.

The IceGators franchise having been shut down, the organization has teamed back up with the Idaho Steelheads, with whom they were allied when the Steelheads won the Kelly Cup in 2004.

First cuts from training camp will likely come on Friday, Sept. 16, as the Stars prepare to play the Colorado Avalanche at Denver on the 17th. Iowa Stars camp begins on Sept. 24 in Des Moines.

Preseason schedule

Sat, Sep 17 8:00PM @ Colorado
Sun, Sep 18 7:00PM @ Edmonton
Tue, Sep 20 7:30PM Edmonton
Fri, Sep 23 7:30PM Detroit
Sun, Sep 25 4:00PM @ Detroit
Tue, Sep 27 7:00PM @ St. Louis
Wed, Sep 28 7:30PM St. Louis
Sat, Oct 1 7:00PM Colorado

Ulf Dahlen hired as scout

Ulf Dahlen, a veteran of 966 NHL games, was hired by the Stars as a European professional scout to be based in Sweden. Pro scouting will increase in importance under the new CBA, as Europeans now become free agents at age 22. Dahlen was a first round pick of the NY Rangers in 1985. In the press release announcing the hire, Stars GM Doug Armstrong alluded to the club’s refocused attention to development.

“In the new NHL, there will be a strong focus on scouting and developing players from within an organization, and having Ulf aboard will absolutely benefit the club in that regard.”

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