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NHL Prospect Report: Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars

From now until the start of next season, I’ll be looking at each NHL team’s prospect situation and assessing each prospect’s projected fantasy value. With all due respect to turnover leagues, I will be focusing solely on keeper and dynasty leagues, because prospects have minimal value in re-draft leagues. Most fantasy leagues vary in structure, so for the purpose of this exercise, I will be referring to leagues that include a main roster and a prospect roster, each with their own respective draft.

This week we move up to the 24th-placed Dallas Stars.

2016-17 Recap

After an incredible 2015-16 season, expectations were high in Dallas. Unfortunately, it was another year of injuries and disaster for Stars fans. There were rumors about trades, and in the end, Dallas played out the string and did get the third overall pick. Lindy Ruff was relieved of his duties and Ken Hitchcock was brought in to stop the defensive leaks. Also, the penalty kill was brutal, and even Jamie Benn had an off year.

Worse yet, most of the Stars prospects have not seen the prime time just yet. That may change this year. On the other hand, another season of development may pay off handsomely for some of their prospects. Fans of Dallas need to hope for better fortune. Last season, the system hampered the Stars when there were injuries. Let us start off with the highest potential and work our way down.

1. Miro Heiskanen, D

Age: 18  H/W: 5’10″/155 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 3 in 2013 by Dallas

2016-17 Team: HIFK, Liiga

37 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 Pts, -1, 4 PIM

Heiskanen had a solid season for the HIFK squad in Finland. He is a young defenseman that many have hope for. Heiskanen shined for the under-18 team with 12 points in seven games. The Stars have defensive depth in their prospect and team ranks. When teams were more physical with Heiskenan, he did struggle a good bit. It was encouraging to see him persevere throughout the season, however.

He may start off in Dallas for a nine-game run, but do not be surprised if he goes back to Finland. Training camp will be telling because that can be an avenue for Heiskanen to turn some heads. Also, he must improve his upper and lower body strength. There is upside, but Dallas fans need to be patient. Heiskanen will need to develop, and time is needed for him to adjust to the NHL game.

2. Julius Honka, D

Age: 21  H/W: 5’11″/ 195 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 14 in 2014 by Dallas

2016-17 Team: Texas Stars / Dallas Stars

50 GP, 7 G, 24 A, 31 Pts, -4, 59 PIM. 16 GP, 1 G , 4 A, 5 Pts, -4, 4 PIM

Honka was too good for Texas but found Dallas much tougher. Overall, the defenseman had 31 points in 50 games for Texas. Yes, he created his share of chances. On the other hand, execution on those chances was problematic. What has to be different now?

[the_ad id=”384″]The key will be for Honka to sustain at the NHL level. His lower body is strong, and the hands are very good. Few can dispute that. Flourishing on the rush will be vital for the defenseman. One final issue is defensive gap play covering his zone. The Finnish blueliner has a chance to move up the depth chart. There are many who believe that he has top-four upside now. The Stars think this might be a breakout year.

3. Denis Guryanov, RW/LW

Age: 20  H/W: 6’3″/201 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 12 in 2015 by Dallas

2016-17 Team: Texas Stars (AHL)

57 GP, 12 G, 15 A, 27 Pts, -4, 15 PIM

Guryanov was okay for Texas. He had 27 points, and his possession metrics were good relative to the team. His ability to shoot hard and often was noticed. The Russian’s competitive fire increased as well. The Stars will have to be patient with him, but the payoff could be great. It will be key for Guryanov to be more consistent defensively. That will help his ice time.

As he gains more experience, Guryanov could crack the Stars roster this year. The forward wants to play in the NHL sometime in the next two campaigns. Fortunately, the depth chart may be of help. Dallas needs the Russian to develop sooner rather than later. It is that kind of desperation that may rush the forward into the NHL. Will he be ready?

4. Riley Tufte, LW

Age: 19   H/W: 6’5″/ 211 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 25 in 2016 by Dallas

2016-17 Team: University Of Minnesota-Duluth

37 GP, 9 G, 7 A, 16 Pts, +15, 26 PIM.

Tufte is another prospect that is a project, but the time at the college level will be helpful. He has potential, and it could be seen in flashes. Dallas would like to see one of their forwards develop, as their penalty kill has become quite the sieve. Tufte could help with both ends of special teams play.

Tufte’s best opportunity is a couple years more at the nationally recognized university. The forward must execute better offensively. His shot is erratic at times and also needs improvement. Again, there is much to work on, That seems to be a theme with Dallas’s prospect pool. It is also a product of mishandling picks and bad development.

5. Jake Oettinger, G

Age: 18  H/W: 6’4″/ 220 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 26 in 2017 by Dallas

2016-17 Team: Boston University (NCAA)

35 GP, 2.11 GAA, .927 save percentage

Oettinger plays the game in a simple way. His economy of motion is in stark contrast to what was seen in Dallas last season. Most will argue that Bishop is only a short-term fix as the pick develops. The tall goaltender will continue at Boston University in the Fall. He is in excellent hands there.

That will be the key in the future Stars’ development. Players like Oettinger must pan out and exceed expectations. If they do not, then things will be bleak in Dallas. No one likes to hear that, but this is the reality. When there are several projects, that is concerning. Jack Campbell’s failed development is remembered well. Dallas will be more careful here.


Prospect Grade: C+

Dallas’ prospect situation is okay, as the Stars have some holes in their prospect ranks. A few will even think the C+ grade is being too harsh. There are several first-round prospects when Dallas needs some talent and/or depth right now. Jim Nill must find a way to get some of these players to work out. If these projects mostly bust, then look out! Texas has had some issues, plus Dallas again is hoping Ken Hitchcock can turn it around.

That does it for this week’s prospect report, but be sure to come back next week when we look at the Los Angeles Kings. As always, feedback is appreciated, and I’d love to hear what changes you would all make to this list. Leave your thoughts in the comment section! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice!


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