A year after making it to the Stanley Cup finals, the Dallas Stars failed to qualify for the playoffs last year. Injuries to core players Tyler Seguin, Ben Bishop, and Alex Radulov.
On the bright side, the injuries opened the door for rookies to make an impression and Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger seized the day. Robertson had a breakout performance as a sleeper rookie finishing second in Calder voting exceeding expectations, while Oettinger made his anticipated NHL debut starting in 29 games and showing he has starting goalie potential now.
Dallas has a solid core of young players to build around with Robertson, Oettinger, and Miro Heiskanen to build around. The pipeline has a few more top prospects that offer hope but it is not a very deep prospect pool outside the top three or four.
2021-22 Top 10 Dallas Stars Prospects
- Mavrik Bourque, C – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Drafted: 2020 round 1, 30th overall by Dallas Stars
Dallas may have drafted a top ten talent with the 30th selection in the 2020 draft with Marvik Bourque. He possesses a high-level hockey sense and vision, and the ability to process at an NHL-level pace. He has extremely soft hands and puck skills that allow him to combine his smarts with his hands at a level that has NHL top-six upside, if not first-line center in the future.
In his D+1 season, he wore the captain’s “C” in the Q and lead on the score sheet with 43 points in 28 games. Bourque posted six more points in five playoff games before heading to Texas in the AHL for the final six games. His pro debut started slow with no points through his first four games, but he found his feet with a three-point game and finally a goal and assist in the final game for a respectable five points six games.
Back in the Q for his final season of junior hockey he is off to a roaring start with a 1.5 point per game pace through eight games and will be a candidate for Team Canada at the WJC. Borque will turn pro following the current season and likely see a year of pro-development in the AHL full time with Texas next season.
- Thomas Harley, D – Texas Stars (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one, 18th overall by Dallas Stars
Harley brings a tantalizing toolbox of skills. His most obvious and impressive attribute is his skating. He owns a long, fluid stride that gives him a top speed, quick acceleration, and a wide range of mobility and agility. He uses his skating to rush the puck up ice in transition with great effectiveness. Harley also owns a strong vision and is more of a passer than a shooter.
He is an elusive skater rushing the puck, but can also make smart stretch passes up ice. His shot is another asset on the point. He has a quick and accurate wrist shot that finds holes and has a hard one-timer. Finally, he brings some good old-fashioned size at 6-3 and 205 pounds.
Harley made the most of the OHL on COVID lockdown and made his full-time AHL debut with an impressive 25 points in 38 games, as well as playing a top role for Canada at the WJC. Harley begins the 2021 season back in the AHL but will be playing a top-four role in Dallas in the very near future.
- Jake Oettinger, G – Texas Stars (AHL)
Drafted: 2017 round one, 26th overall by Dallas Stars
It may be a little confusing with what the Dallas Stars are thinking in goal. Ben Bishop is the incumbent starting goalie but was injured all last season and remains sidelined. The Stars played back-up Anton Khudobin and Oettinger last season, and despite missing the playoffs the tandem was not the issue. Oettinger posted a solid 11-8-7 record and made Team USA for the WC and was even better going 3-0-0 with a 1.37 GAA.
Despite that, the team saw fit to sign free agent veteran Braden Holtby after he struggled in Vancouver. The signing has allowed the 22-year-old Oettinger to play the starting role in the AHL for his second tour of duty with the Texas Stars.
His tenure in the AHL will be short as Holtby is a one-year contract, Bishop may never return, and Khudobin has one more year on his deal before the 35-year-old becomes a UFA. Oettinger will be the Stars starting goalie in the very near future, possibly as soon as the postseason.
- Riley Damiani, C – Texas Stars (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round five, 137th overall by Dallas Stars
The Stars scouting staff deserve serious praise for uncovering Damiani. The Stars drafted Damiani with the 137th selection after he posted 37 points in 64 OHL games with the Kitchener Rangers. Since then, his stock has been on the rise. He had a breakout D+1 season with 85 points, followed by a 78-point season in his final OHL season wearing the captain’s “C”.
He had a second breakout year as a rookie in the AHL in Texas with 11 goals and 36 points in 36 games, earning the Rookie of the Year award. Damiani had a strong showing at the prospects camp and training camp with the team but was assigned to the AHL again where he picked up where he left off with four points in four games to start.
Damiani is a speedster and has good vision. A playmaker more than a shooter. He is a versatile player that has a motor and a high compete level despite not being very physically aggressive. He projects as a solid middle-six winger that can kill penalties and has some offensive upside at the NHL level.
- Logan Stankoven, C – Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Drafted: 2021 round two, 47th overall by Dallas Stars
Many in the online scouting community believe the Stars drafted a first-round talent (possibly top 15) with the 47th overall pick. Stankoven is a dynamic offensive forward with above-average skills in skating, smarts, and shooting. The only reason he fell out of the first round is his size. At 5-7, he is small, but the same size as Alex Debrincat and Cole Caufield with similar skills set.
Stankoven was limited to 10 regular-season games in his draft year in the WHL but posted seven goals and ten points. He suited up for Canada at the U-18 and was a key contributor to their Gold Medal posted four goals and eight points in seven games.
Stankoven returned to the WHL for his third season and is wearing the captain’s “C” with Kamloops and has 12 points through the first eight games. Stankoven will have another year in the WHL and should be on Team Canada for the WJC as well, adding to his resume before his pro career begins. Stankoven is a few years away, and Dallas is patient with prospect development but in time, they will be rewarded with a top-six offensive winger.
- Wyatt Johnston, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, 23rd overall by Dallas Stars
Dallas traded down in the first round from 15th overall to select Johnston with the 23rd selection. In doing so they passed over on players such as Brennan Othman, Chaz Lucius, Jesper Wallstedt, and Fabian Lysell, while adding the 48th and 138th overall selections. It was a questionable decision but shows Dallas has confidence in Johnston despite his playing zero club games in his draft year and appearing in only seven games with Canada at the U18 where he had four points in seven games.
Johnston is a smart, two-way player that is strong on the puck and has good playmaking vision. He has good size but could use some development in his skating to play at the NHL level. Johnston had a good prospect tournament before returning to the OHL and was rewarded with his ELC. With the OHL resuming play he has returned to Windsor as an assistant captain and has seven points in his first eight games.
- Ayrton Martino, LW – Clarkson University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2021 round three, 73rd overall by Dallas Stars
After joining the Omaha Lancers late in the season, Martino exploded offensively to lead the team in scoring with 18 goals and 56 points in 38 games. His consistent production included a 16-game point streak and only eight pointless games.
Martino has a high-level offensive vision and skill set to match, he utilizes the give-and-go with NHL effectiveness. The knocks on his game are size and a lack of top-end speed. These are not inherent deficiencies, and he can overcome them with hard work.
He has committed to Clarkson in the NCAA where he can work in the gym to add the strength he needs. Martino has six points through his first six games and was named the ECHC rookie of the week. The Toronto native should play several seasons with the Golden Knights before turning pro and adjusting to the pro game in the AHL before breaking into the NHL.
- Jacob Peterson, C – Texas Stars (AL)
Drafted: 2017 round five, 132nd overall by Dallas Stars
The Stars uncovered a hidden gem from the fifth-round way back in 2017 with the selection of Peterson. After developing in the SHL for the past three years amassing 51 points in 100 career games, Peterson signed his ELC and made the move to North America for the 2021 season and made his debut in the NHL. His first game was a memorable one as he scored his first career NHL goal but was held pointless for the following five games. He has since been assigned to the AHL where he will look to regain his offensive confidence.
Peterson is an excellent skater with explosive first-step acceleration. He uses his quickness to find open ice and finish plays. He could use a little more strength and likely plays most of the season in the AHL, but an NHL recall is very probable in the future.
- Yevgeni Oksentyuk, RW – Idaho Steelheads (ECHL)
Drafted: 2020 round six, 162nd overall by Dallas Stars
The Belarussian had a breakout draft year in the OHL with the Flint Firebirds posting 33 goals and 78 points along with 51 penalty minutes. The undersized winger is an aggressive, forechecking winger with good lower body strength. He has good puck skills and creative offensive vision. Despite being undersized, he likes to hit and can develop into a solid pest or agitator role with offensive upside.
In his D+1 season with no OHL to play in he returned to Belarus to play pro. With only six points in 31 regular-season games being underwhelming, he found his stride as the season wore on and had four goals and five points in 13 playoff games.
Dallas signed him to his ELC in the offseason. Oksentyuk has returned to North America where he was assigned to their ECHL affiliate Idaho Steelheads, where he has six points through four games. It should not be too long before he is recalled to the AHL for a better challenge.
- Jordan Kawaguchi, C – Texas Stars (AHL)
Drafted: Signed by Dallas Stars
The Stars signed the coveted NCAA free agent prospect to his ELC after he played out his NCAA career with North Dakota. It was an impressive career with 126 points through 136 games with Fighting Hawks, including a Hobey Baker nomination in 2020 and a NCHC Championship in 2021. Following his final NCAA game, Dallas inked him to his ELC, and he burned the first year off playing the final three AHL games with Texas recording his first goal and two points.
The 24-year-old is essentially a finished product at this point and is an accomplished playmaker with creative vision, strong leadership skills, and lower body strength. His skating may not be at the NHL level, which may keep him at the AHL level.