Right wing Tomas Vincour was on the Dallas Stars’ roster when their season ended in 2010-11. He’d like to be on the roster when the 2011-12 season kicks off next Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I’m still here, so I guess that’s pretty good,” Vincour said. “But you always have to be better. There are always things you can learn. I am not hoping. I am not thinking. I am just going out there and doing my best.”
So far he’s done pretty well. The 20-year-old Czech native, who made his NHL debut in his first professional season, has had a strong training camp and preseason. He’s played in five of the Stars’ six preseason games, picking up three points (one goal, two assists) and a plus-four rating.
“He’s played real hard,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I had Vinny last year (in the AHL) and we just keep on him about certain habits. He’s worked his tail off at camp and he’s put himself in a good position.”
Vincour, a fifth round pick in 2009, played 24 games with Dallas last season and registered one goal and two assists.
“That was great,” Vincour said of the NHL experience. “I was real thankful I got a chance to play with great players and great teammates.”
He also played 44 games last season with the Texas Stars, where he had 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in 44 games.
Having played under Gulutzan last season with Texas has been a plus for Vincour in training camp and the preseason. He knows the system and what Gulutzan expects, so he can focus on playing. He also has a veteran Czech player he can lean on for advice and guidance this season in Radek Dvorak, one of the team’s free agent signings.
“Rad is an experienced guy and has been around the league for a while. He’s been great to me,” said Vincour. “We’ve been spending a lot of time together.”
Vincour came into camp knowing the road to a roster spot could be a steep climb. The team added seven players in free agency, including five forwards. There are 13 forwards under one-way deals and whether a roster spot is open will depend on personnel decisions, including whether the Stars carry 13 or 14 forwards.
“When I came here I knew all I could do is work hard every day and we’ll see what’s going to happen. It’s not over and there are still a lot of players still here,” Vincour said. “There’s one more game and we’ll see what’s going to happen after it.”
Vincour will play in his sixth preseason game Saturday afternoon when the Stars wrap up their preseason schedule when they take on the Blues in St. Louis. It’s one more chance to make his case.
“He’s playing again [Saturday], so it’s another big game for these kids,” said Gulutzan. “Colton Sceviour, same thing. Big game for these kids.”
A year makes a big difference for Larsen
With his first year of playing hockey in North America now under his belt, defenseman Philip Larsen is feeling a lot more comfortable these days.
“You’re in a different country. It’s small things. Everything is new and exciting,” said Larsen, a fifth round pick in 2008. “This year when I came I knew how everything works and that makes me feel more comfortable with all the people. I am more relaxed now.”
Larsen spent most of last season with the Texas Stars. He had 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists) in 54 games. He also played six NHL games with Dallas, registering two assists.
With that year of experience there’s a higher comfort level on the ice as well. Larsen, 21, has played well in training camp and the preseason, making his case for more NHL time this season. He’s picked up an assist and a plus-three rating in four preseason games.
“You’re used to the small rink now and what kind of game it is,” Larsen said. “You know when to move when a big guy comes to hit you. All those small things. All those things you learned last year, it helps you know what to expect this year.”
The Stars play their final preseason game Saturday afternoon, taking on the Blues in St. Louis. Game time is 1:30 p.m.