Dallas Stars: Dallas Stars Prospects

Prospect update: Matt Fraser

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
11:36
PM CT
The last in a series on top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at forward Matt Fraser, who led the Texas Stars in goal scoring this past season.

Fraser, in his first full professional season, notched 37 goals and 18 assists in 73 games with Texas. He ranked second among all AHL players in goal scoring and finished sixth among rookies in points. His 11 power play goals were third among rookies.

The 22-year-old smiles when asked if he expected to score so much in his first pro season, an indication he’s been asked that question often.

“I didn’t have any goals coming into the season. I wanted to be an impact player and every time someone has asked me that all I’ve said is I wanted to be an impact player every way I could,” Fraser said. “I wanted to contribute any time I was on the ice, and I was happy with the goals. That’s just a small part of the game.”

And Texas management said there was more to the 6-2, 207 pound left wing’s game than just scoring goals.

“Matt has been a really good pro. He’s had an awesome rookie season,” said Scott White, Texas Stars GM and Dallas Stars Director of Minor League Operations. “I think he’s learned about the pace of the game, I think he’s learned about the defensive detail of the game that’s going to make him a legitimate two-way player in the NHL. And I haven’t even got to the 37 goals that he’s scored. He has an NHL shot. He’s well on his way.”

Fraser was never drafted. Dallas signed him out of the Western Hockey League as a free agent in the fall of 2010. He played one NHL game this past season, registering no points in a January 24 tilt against Anaheim.

He might have gotten another call up later in the season, but he was playing injured the last part of the season with Texas.

Fraser’s a good skater and a player who has a knack for getting to those scoring areas. Add in his NHL-caliber shot and he’s been an effective goal scorer at every level he’s played. With Dallas looking for goal scoring, he should get a good look at training camp this fall.

“He really embraced the opportunity to play in the American League. He had close to 40 goals and he finished the last couple months with an injury. Matt is in a good place and he is making good strides,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “I suspect he’ll have a good summer and come in and make it interesting at training camp. Whether he makes the big team, he is definitely close. We’ll just have to see where he falls in that group."


Prospect update: Jack Campbell

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
1:03
AM CT
The latest in a series on top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at goaltender Jack Campbell, who wrapped up his junior career this past season and also got a jump start on his pro career when he finished the season with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

Campbell played for both Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League in 2011-12. He started with Windsor, where he posted a 6-3-2 record, 3.13 goals against average and .906 save percentage before being traded to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in early November in exchange for two players and six draft picks. With Sault Ste. Marie he was 15-12-5 with a 3.58 goals against average and .892 save percentage.

Sault Ste. Marie missed the playoffs, ending Campbell’s up and down two-year career in the OHL. It didn’t take a lot of words for Campbell to sum up his junior career.

“I’ll leave it at this: I learned a lot and I’ve taken a lot from it, more from the mental side of it. I am ready to move on,” Campbell said.

Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel, said he believes that Campbell’s time in the OHL, although tough at times, will pay dividends down the road.

“He had two real good seasons of learning lessons in the Ontario League. He had some hardships and some challenges, and for him I think those are the best things that can happen,” Jackson said. “He got a chance to play in an environment that is close to the American League and the NHL in terms of the schedule and the daily routine, and learning to be a pro.

“My experience with goalies that have gone on to have success is that a lot of them have gone through some of those hardships and they’ve used them to become better players and better pros.”

Campbell, Dallas’ first round pick (11th overall) in 2010, joined the Texas Stars after his junior season ended. He started Texas’ final 12 games, posting a 4-7-0 record, 3.02 goals against average, .912 save percentage and one shutout.

The numbers don’t look that impressive, but Campbell drew high praise for his play as he gave the AHL’s Stars a chance to win in just about every game he appeared.

“I wish we had had Jack in January. The youthful energy and the passion he has for the game, we’ve always known it,” said Scott White, Texas Stars GM and Dallas Stars Director of Minor League Operations. “He works harder than anyone in practice. I think that work ethic holds your teammates accountable. … He doesn’t quit on any puck. These games are invaluable to him for his progression.”

Said Campbell: “It’s huge for my development, the experience for next season, to get me down here early and play some games. I’m learning what it takes to have success at this level. I feel like I am learning a lot and trying to do that every single day.”

The 20-year-old Campbell, a Michigan native, is expected to play in the AHL next season, his first full one as a professional.

“When Jack went into Texas at the end of the season he really embraced the opportunity. In 90 percent of the games he played he was outstanding,” Jackson said. “I think Jack is in a good place. He’s ready to be a good pro and he’s ready to take the challenge of playing every night in the American League and looking forward to taking the next step from there.”


Prospect update: Alex Chiasson

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
11:45
PM CT
The latest in a series on top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at right wing Alex Chiasson, who wrapped up his college career at Boston University this past season and then played briefly with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

Chiasson, who was a junior, led BU in scoring with 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 38 games. His 46 points were fourth among all Hockey East players and tied him for 15th among all players nationally.

The 21-year-old Quebec native got off to a slow start, but picked up points in 18 of his final 22 games, registering 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) during that stretch.

“I stepped up after Christmas and had a solid second semester,” Chiasson said. “It was a great year in that we made it to the tournament. We had a good team, good young guys and good chemistry. I was just trying to be a leader in my third year and tried to lead by example.”

A couple days after Boston University was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by Minnesota, Chiasson signed an entry-level contract with Dallas and then joined the Texas Stars. He played nine games with Texas, picking up five points (one goal, four assists).

“He’s a big man, right shot. He’s more cerebral than I thought he was. He’s been well coached,” said Scott White, Texas Stars GM and Dallas Stars Director of Minor League Operations. “The detail of his game defensively is good, he makes good decisions with the puck, he’s strong along the wall and I sense that will improve because he’ll get some added strength over the summer, which he needs. He’s got a big frame; he just needs to fill out a little bit.”

Chiasson is listed at 6-4, 202 pounds. He was a second round pick (38th overall) in 2009. He’s expected to start next season with the Texas Stars, but should get a good look at training camp in the fall.

“He had three good seasons at Boston University and he stepped into Texas and didn’t miss a beat,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He was a good player in all the games he played there. Like all these young guys, it opens their eyes to what they have to expect at the next level.

“He definitely has the physical attributes and the talent to be a good pro. It will just be a matter of adjusting and it will just be a matter of seeing how long it takes to play at that level before he challenges for the NHL. But he is a really good prospect.”


Prospect update: Austin Smith

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
11:52
PM CT
The latest in a series on the top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at forward Austin Smith, who played his final year of college hockey at Colgate last season and then played 12 games with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

At the college level, the Dallas native had a spectacular season. He registered 57 points (36 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games. The 36 goals were tops in the nation and the 57 points ranked third. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey. He was named the College Hockey News National Player of the Year and was the ECAC’s Player of the Year.

“It was a great year. It was really fun,” Smith said. “At the end I was disappointed I didn’t win the Hobey. I pretty much got every other award I could have for the year. That says a lot about our program and our team. Not for me, but I kind of wanted to win the Hobey for my school and for Texas hockey. It really had nothing to do with me; I just wanted to have it for those two things.”

After his college career ended, Smith signed a two-year entry level contract with Dallas that will kick in next season. He also joined the Texas Stars on an amateur tryout contract, registering three assists in 12 games. Smith had plenty of scoring chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

“I think it’s a good test for me early in my career to learn what it takes to get the puck in the net, and to know that you are going to go through some hot streaks and some streaks where it really doesn’t go,” Smith said. “It’s a really good experience in that regard.”

The Stars also saw that time in Texas as a good experience for Smith, a speedy, skilled forward that the team selected in the fifth round (128th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft.

“I think it was a good opportunity for him to play and see what that level was all about,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He did especially well in playing for Texas. The only thing he didn’t do was score and that was frustrating for him. I think it is just a matter of time; he has a history of scoring.

“I think it was good for him. A lot of young guys come in from playing at different amateur levels and think they are close to the NHL, and they find out the AHL is a good league and that you have to be a good player there to make the NHL. I think that was his own college lesson to the play there to find out what he is up against and what he has to do to prepare for next year.”

The 23-year-old Smith is expected to play with Texas next season.

Prospect update: Jamie Oleksiak

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
10:51
PM CT
The latest in a series on top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who played in the Ontario Hockey League this past season and is expected to turn pro next season.

After playing at Northeastern University in 2010-11, Oleksiak decided to change his development path and signed on with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League for the 2011-12 campaign. He played the first half of the season with the Spirit, registering 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists)in 31 games.

Just prior to the OHL trade deadline he was dealt to the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for a defenseman, two prospects and five draft picks as Niagara tried to beef up its lineup for a run at the OHL championship.

Oleksiak, who is listed at 6-7, 252 pounds, had 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-27 rating in 28 games for Niagara, which finished first in the Eastern Conference and tied for the second best record overall in the OHL.

“I’m so pleased we were able to get (Oleksiak),” Niagara coach and general manager Marty Williamson told the St. Catharines Standard. “It changes the dynamics of our team. I see guys who don’t even try to hit him because it’s useless. He’s so strong they try and do other things, which is ideal. I can’t say enough. To have another big body out there that is good in his own zone makes our forwards and our team better. He was a big pickup for us.”

Oleksiak had four assists and a plus-two rating in 20 playoff games as the IceDogs made it to the OHL finals, but lost to the London Knights in five games.

“Oleksiak had a real good season,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “The move from college to junior was a good one. He went from the college schedule to the busy OHL schedule, and that was really good for Jamie. All the reports were really positive that he made some really good strides this year.”

Oleksiak, Dallas’ first round pick (14th overall) in 2011, also played for Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship, picking up no points and a plus-two rating as the Canadians won a bronze medal at the tournament.

There’s more to Oleksiak than just his size. He’s also very mobile for a big man, and he can move the puck efficiently.

The Toronto native, who signed an entry-level contract with Dallas last October, is expected to play for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League next season as he embarks on his professional career.

“He’s ready for the next step of pro,” said Jackson. “I suspect he’ll go into Texas and be a big minute player there, and you’ll see his game go to another level. I think for a young guy he has done extremely well.”


Prospect update: Tyler Beskorowany

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
10:45
PM CT
The latest in a series on the top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at goaltender Tyler Beskorowany, who played for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League this past season.

Texas, which missed the playoffs for the first time in its three-year history, had a rough season, and so did Beskorowany. He posted a 10-19-0 record with a 3.39 goals against average and .886 save percentage.

It was a step back for the 22-year-old, a second round pick (59th overall) in 2008, who was in his second professional season.

“If you were to ask him he would be disappointed in his season. He had moments where he looked like he was going to grasp it, but he really never got a hold,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “I am sure he is frustrated with the way the season went. He had a great opportunity to take the net when we got Richard (Bachman) up to the big team, but he kind of floundered all year.”

After Bachman was called up to Dallas in late November, Beskorowany won five of his first nine starts, but then he struggled the rest of the season, posting a 4-11-0 record with a 3.99 goals against average and .875 save percentage.

Beskorowany, who has excellent size (6-4, 212 pounds) and quickness, made only one relief appearance over the final few weeks of the season as highly touted Jack Campbell joined the team after his junior career finished and started Texas’ final 12 games of the season.

“It will be interesting to see how (Beskorowany) preps this summer, how he takes the lessons from last year and how he learns from them and moves ahead,” Jackson said. “He’s at a crossroads of his young career. He’s going to have to find out how bad he wants to be a pro and how bad he wants to be a player.

“He certainly has the physical tools to be a player; it’s going to be whether he’s dug in enough mentally to decide that he wants to put the work in and how bad he wants this. He's got a lot of questions to ask himself about how bad he wants to be a player.”

Beskorowany will enter next season in the third and final year of his entry-level contract.

Prospect update: Reilly Smith

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
11:08
PM CT
Here is the latest in a series of updates on the top prospects of the Dallas Stars. This one looks at forward Reilly Smith, who joined the team at the end of the season after wrapping up his college career at Miami University.

Smith, as a junior, had 30 goals in 39 games, finishing second in the nation to fellow Stars prospect Austin Smith. His 48 points were tied for tenth in the nation.

Smith, a third round pick (69th overall) in 2009, was named First Team All-CCHA, Second-Team All-American by Inside College Hockey, and was among the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. In his three years at Miami he registered 122 points (66 goals, 56 assists) in 121 games.

“The confidence has been a huge factor for me in being able to find the back of the net, and also the physical aspect of it. I’ve put on a lot of weight and strength over the three years at Miami,” said Smith, who was 160 pounds when arrived at Miami and was 185 pounds when he left. “All of that correlated to my success in college hockey.”

After his college career ended he signed a three-year entry-level with Dallas and was put on the NHL roster, making his debut in a game at Edmonton on March 28. He played 4:05 and had one shot on goal.

“Even though I played only four minutes I tried to soak in every moment of it. Just being in Edmonton and having so much history around you, being a small part of it was a great experience,” Smith said. “Being my first NHL game it was phenomenal, getting the win was great and I got my feet wet for the next game in Vancouver.”

Smith played 8:39 and had no points in that game against Vancouver, was a healthy scratch for the next three games and then played in the season finale against St. Louis, picking up no points and two penalty minutes in 12:28 of ice time.

“He has some real nice attributes as far as an offensive player goes. He just needs to become more familiar with our defensive structure and getting used to playing with pro players,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I think he is going to be a good player in the future.”

The 21-year-old Smith, who is a left shot but plays both right and left wing, has speed, skill and a good shot. He’s projected as a top six forward.

“Reilly has been a real good player from the time we drafted him. He had a real good college career. It was nice that he got into a few games in Dallas to give him a preview of what the NHL is all about and to see what it takes to play at that level,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He’s showed at every level he’s played at that he is a good player. Now it will be his challenge to go to the American League or to our team, if he makes it, to learn the lessons to adjust to be a good pro. I think it will take him some time, but he’ll be a good offensive player at the pro level.”

As for Smith’s chances of starting next season at the NHL level, Jackson said time will tell.

“That will depend on his summer and how he comes in,” Jackson said. “Realistically the first step should be playing in the American League and being a good player there, but if he is good enough to bypass that it will be great for us. Time will tell that for sure.”


Propsect update: Colton Sceviour

May, 12, 2012
5/12/12
8:43
AM CT
The latest in a series on top prospects looks at forward Colton Sceviour, who had a career year with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

Sceviour, a fourth-round pick (112th overall) in 2007, posted careers high in goals (21), assists (32) and points (53) while playing 75 games for Texas.

He accomplished that despite getting off to a slow start, registering just 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in his first 27 games. Over his final 48 games he was almost a point-a-game player, picking up 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists).

“He had a really good season,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “I think he has earned the opportunity to have a good look this fall.”

Sceviour, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent on July 1, is a versatile, two-way player who can play all three forward positions. At the AHL level he has played both sides of special teams.

He played one game for the Dallas Stars in 2010-11, but did not get a call up this past season. That slow start to the season might have put him behind the eight-ball in that regard.

But the strong finish to the season has put him in position to compete for playing time in the NHL next season, or possibly even a roster spot, according to Jackson.

“I suspect he is right around having a role with the big team next season, whether it would be getting in a few games to get in game experience or grab a spot in the 10-14 (forward) group,” Jackson said.

Stars prospects Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie fell short in their bid to win the Ontario Hockey League championship and advance to the Memorial Cup.

Their Niagara IceDogs team lost 2-1 to London in Game 5 of the OHL Finals Friday night. London won the series 4-1.

Oleksiak, a defenseman who was taken in the first round (14th overall) in 2011, had four assists and a plus-two rating in 20 playoff games. He is expected to turn pro next season and play for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

Ritchie, a right wing who taken in the second round (44th overall) in 2011, had three goals, eight assists and an even rating in 19 playoff games. He’s expected to stay in junior hockey next season.

Prospect update: Brenden Dillon

May, 6, 2012
5/06/12
10:11
PM CT
The latest in a series on top Dallas Stars prospects takes a look at defenseman Brenden Dillon, who is coming off his first full season of professional hockey.

Dillon, a free agent signing out of the Western Hockey League in March 2011, had 29 points (6 goals, 23 assists) and 97 penalty minutes in 76 games with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League this past season. He ranked second on the team in scoring among defensemen.

“Brenden has been really good. At Traverse City (NHL Prospect Tournament) and his first NHL camp, he really opened some eyes,” said Scott White, Texas Stars GM and Dallas’ Director of Minor League Operations. “I think he adjusted well his first couple months and then he kind of had the dog days of January and February, where it kind of bit him a little bit, but all of a sudden he became our best guy in mid-February right through. He’s knocking on the door. He’s come a long way. He’s physical, he can skate and he can shoot it. I think his details on both side of the puck are improving daily.”

Dillon, 21, has good size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), skates well, has some offensive tools and can play a physical, solid defensive game.

He got his first taste of NHL action in Dallas’ regular season finale against St. Louis and made a solid impression. He played 19:59 and registered a game-high six shots on goal. He also had four hits and three blocked shots.

After the game, Dillon received high marks from Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, who had coached him at the end of the 2010-11 season when he joined Texas on an amateur tryout contract after his junior career had ended.

“I thought his game was strong,” Gulutzan said. “I can see he’s made strides from when I had him a year ago. I think you guys can judge for yourselves, but I think he’s going to be right around it come September.”

And the Stars do expect Dillon to be pushing for a job when training camp rolls around in Boise, Idaho.

“Brenden is right around the big team, I would say,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “The last couple of years have really been good for him. The last year in Seattle (Western Hockey League) he took a really big step. This year he carried a lot of key minutes and played in a lot of key situations down there. He had his moments where he had his hardships, but overall it was a very positive year for him. I’d say he’s knocking on the door to make the big team in September.”

Prospect/minor league notes

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
7:22
AM CT
Stars prospects Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie are playing for a shot at going to the Memorial Cup in Canadian junior hockey. They moved a step closer as their Niagara team won Game 1 of the Ontario Hockey League Finals, beating London 3-2 in double overtime Thursday night.

Ritchie had one assist and an even rating in the game. Oleksiak had no points and was minus-one on the night.

Game 2 of the series is Saturday night.

Idaho Steelheads seek new head coach

The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, are searching for a new head coach. The Steelheads have decided not to renew the contract of Hardy Sauter, who had been head coach the past two seasons and compiled a 63-59-22 record.

This past season Idaho had its first losing record since 1999-2000, but it did make the playoffs. The Steelheads were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs in each of Sauter’s two seasons, not quite up to the standards of a team that had two championships and a trip to the finals in a six-year span just prior to Sauter’s arrival.

Prospect update: Patrik Nemeth

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
11:35
PM CT
Here’s the latest in a series looking at the top prospects of the Dallas Stars. This one looks at Swedish defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who will play in North America next season.

Nemeth, a second round pick (41st overall) in 2010, played with AIK of the Swedish Elite league this past season. He had three assists and a plus-three rating in 46 games. He had one assist in 11 playoff games as AIK made it to the Elite League semifinals.

The 20-year-old also helped Sweden win a gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championship, registering five assists and a plus-seven rating in six games. The five assists were tops among defensemen at the tournament and his plus/minus rating tied for sixth among all players.

“He’s played the last two years in the Swedish Elite League. He’s been playing at a man’s level, so he’ll come in and most likely start in Texas but I don’t feel like he’s that far from the NHL,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “It’s just a matter of going down there and playing and adjusting to the everyday lifestyle of the North American game and culture.”

Nemeth came to North America after his season with AIK ended, but did not play with Texas due to an injury suffered in the Swedish Elite League playoffs. But Jackson said it did help the defenseman get a glimpse of what life will be like in the AHL.

“Unfortunately he was hurt or he would have been in the lineup,” Jackson said. “It was good for him. He came over and traveled a little bit with the team and he had a chance to work out with J.J. McQueen (Stars Player Develop Coordinator) and Brad Jellis (Stars Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) up in Dallas, so he got the first segment of his summer program for training. We’ll see him again in July (at development camp).”

The Stars see Nemeth as a good two-way defenseman. He has size (listed at 6-3, 215 pounds), doesn’t shy away from the physical stuff, he skates well and makes a good first pass.

“I think he’s knocking on the door,” Jackson said. “He’s a real competitive kid. He plays a real consistent game. I think he’s around it, being a really good NHL player.”



Prospect update: Scott Glennie

April, 29, 2012
4/29/12
10:47
PM CT
This is the latest in a series of updates on the top prospects of the Dallas Stars. This one looks at forward Scott Glennie, who played his first full professional season with the Texas Stars of the AHL.

Glennie, Dallas’ first round pick (8th overall) in 2009, registered 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 70 games for Texas. He missed all but the first couple days of training camp and the first three games of Texas’ season due to a concussion. He missed the last two games of the season with a wrist injury.

“It was a bit of a slow start with the injury there, but I think the second half went pretty well. I got my feet underneath me,” said Glennie. “It’s just getting used to the game. It took me a little while to get used to the pace, how fast and big the guys are. I think I am used to that now.”

Glennie had only two points in his first 13 games, but picked up the pace when Dallas made some roster moves in late November.

“When Tomas Vincour went up (to the NHL), Scott got a lot more ice time and he ran with it,” said Scott White, Texas Stars GM and Dallas’ Director of Minor League Operations. “His game is better. He’s learned what he needs to do to get better. He has some elements that our organization needs – quick, good hands, right shot, has the ability to score. All in all, his improvement has been steady from November on once he got healthy.”

During a stretch that ran from early January to late March, Glennie put up 26 points (8 goals, 18 assists) in 34 games.

“All the games I’ve seen down there, to me, he’s been one of the best players in the game. Until Jack (Campbell) got there, he was our youngest player,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He has a good season, not as far as goal scoring, but in the sense of learning how to be a pro, what it takes to show up every day and what it means to put the work in and train to be a good player every night.”

The 21-year-old got his first taste of NHL action in Dallas’ final game of the season, picking up no points and two penalty minutes in 9:35 of playing time.

Glennie, who played center and right wing in Texas this past season, should get a good look at Dallas’ training camp in September.

“I sense he got himself a real good foundation of what it takes to be a pro, and I don’t think he is that far from the NHL,” Jackson said. “He’s got all the tools that fit into the new game. He’s got skill, he’s smart and he’s got scoring ability. It will just be a matter of where we are in the fall. If he goes back to Texas that won’t be a bad thing for him, it will be a good thing. I suspect at the end of the day he’ll come up here and be a good NHL player.”


Prospect update: Matej Stransky

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
11:21
PM CT
This is the first in a series looking at some of the top prospects for the Dallas Stars. First up is right wing Matej Stransky, who led the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League in scoring this past season.

Stransky, a sixth round pick (165th overall) in 2011, led the Blades in goals (39), assists (42) and points (81) in 70 games played. Those offensive numbers were more than triple what he put up the previous season – his first in North America – when he had 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 71 games for Saskatoon.

“Of all the players in our organization, he took the biggest step in improvement this year,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He really had a strong season in the Western League.”

Stransky, an 18-year-old from the Czech Republic, finished 15th in the WHL in goal scoring and tied for 19th in points. His 14 power play goals, which led his team, were tied for 15th in the league.

The 6-3, 201 pound forward, who has a good skill set, had two points (one goal, one assist) in four playoff games as Saskatoon was swept out of the first round of the playoffs.

The Stars signed Stransky to a three-year entry-level contract in early April. The skilled forward, who is a right shot, is expected to play in the WHL again next season.

“He’s a big kid with really good hands and good instincts. We need to work on a few things with him developmentally, but that’s pretty normal for a kid his age,” said Jackson. “He’s in a good place and he’s made some good strides. He’s an impressive player.”


CEDAR PARK, Texas -- Austin Smith was almost a goal a game guy in college this past season, but the goals didn’t come easy when he joined the Texas Stars for the final three weeks of the AHL season.

“I’ve had plenty of opportunities, hit a couple of posts, couple of good saves,” Smith said as the Texas Stars were preparing to play their final home game of the season. “Chances are coming and I am creating a lot. That’s what they are looking for and that is good. I’ve just got to keep plugging away.”

Smith, the Dallas native selected by the Dallas Stars in the 5th round (128th overall) of the 2007 draft, couldn’t find the back of the net in Texas’ final two games. He ended up with three assists in 12 games in his first taste of AHL action after a four-year college career at Colgate.

“I think it’s a good test for me early in my career to learn what it takes to get the puck in the net, and to know that you are going to go through some hot streaks and some streaks where it really doesn’t go,” Smith said. “It’s a really good experience in that regard.”

The 12 AHL games were a good experience in many regards for the 23-year-old Smith, a speedy, skilled right wing who signed a two-year entry-level deal with Dallas after wrapping up his college career, and then joined Texas on an amateur tryout contract.

“There’s more structure. In college we were go, go, go all the time and here I’ve got to learn to stay back and feed into the system,” Smith said. “It’s been kind of difficult for me, but I am learning it and adjusting. I am learning where I can use my speed, too, and insert my game into the system.

“I don’t know if it’s much faster, but you have to know where to be and turnovers are huge at this level. You turn it over and it is in the back of your net,” Smith said. “It’s just the little things you have to do every night, and really paying attention to detail. And the goalies are a little better, so you’ve really got to bear down around the net.”

Although Smith couldn’t find the back of the net, Texas Stars GM Scott White liked what he saw from Smith.

“Smitty has been good. Snake-bitten if you asked him. If he wasn’t getting the chances then I’d have issues, but he’s getting chances,” White said. “He’s learning how to play the American League game, big men, good defensemen night in and night out. I like his energy. He hunts pucks, he tracks back and he doesn’t quit. The goals will come. He’s hit about eight or nine posts.”

Smith joined Texas after putting together a spectacular senior season at Colgate University in upstate New York. He led the nation in goal scoring with 36 in 39 games and finished third with 57 points. He was the ECAC Player of the Year and College Hockey News National Player of the Year.

Smith, who played his youth hockey in Dallas and played for two years at Dallas Jesuit High, was one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey.

“It was a great year. It was really fun,” Smith said. “At the end I was disappointed I didn’t win the Hobey. I pretty much got every other award I could have for the year. That says a lot about our program and our team. Not for me, but I kind of wanted to win the Hobey for my school and for Texas hockey. It really had nothing to do with me; I just wanted to have it for those two things.”

With the college career behind him, Smith is now looking ahead to a professional career. He’s got his goals set for the offseason. Like most young players, getting bigger and stronger are at the top of the list.

“It was a long year. I lost 10-12 pounds. I need to put on some weight and I need to learn how to keep it on,” said Smith, who was listed at 5-11, 180 pounds at the start of the season. “It’s all part of being at this level, learning how to maintain your body. That’s got to be my biggest focus, go home and put on some weight. I don’t think strength has been a problem for me at this level, I think my quickness kind of helps me out but I want to put on that strength.”

He’s expected to play with the Texas Stars next season and he’s already got some goals in mind, and one of them is showing that he can put the puck in the net at the AHL level.

“I still believe I am a goal scorer and a great playmaker,” Smith said. “I want to make those plays and I want to continue to be successful that way at this level.”

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