Stars’ Injuries Give Prospects Time to Shine

The Dallas Stars find themselves with three injured forwards just one game into the season. Jason Dickinson, Corey Perry and Blake Comeau will all be out for at least the next week. This gives opportunity for newly called up players Rhett Gardner, Nicholas Caamano and current roster player Denis Gurianov to impress the coaching staff. The Stars are the fourth oldest team in the league with an average age of 28.9, so some youthfulness in the locker room could be welcomed.

Dallas Stars Denis Gurianov
Dallas Stars right wing Denis Gurianov (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Denis Gurianov

It was mentioned in an article about the Stars’ top six that Gurianov would likely be the first candidate in the event Dickinson got hurt or demoted off the second line. It looks like he will be getting his shot at a regular season top-six look in just the second game of 2019-20. It’s worth mentioning that he started training camp and preseason in the top six with Roope Hintz and Alexander Radulov; a line filled with speed, skill and intensity. However, Gurianov failed to impress throughout camp and managed zero points during his lengthy preseason game looks. He had four points in 23 games last year and has been touted as one of the Stars most hyped prospects for the past few years. If there was ever a time for him to breakout and show that he belongs in a scoring role within the roster, it would be now.

Gurianov has already scored his first in the NHL, although it’s likely one he wished happened differently. For a speed and skill guy, there’s more desirable ways to score than having a puck deflect off your back end. At the end of the day, a goal is a goal. But for a player with that much talent and speed, there’s no doubt he wants his next goal to be worthy of a YouTube highlight reel.

Rhett Gardner

The Dallas Stars drafted Gardner 116th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. He was one of the two players called up from the Texas Stars on Friday morning. Gardner was one of the last cuts to make the opening night roster so the coaching staff was obviously impressed with his camp. His game could be described as a budget Radek Faksa. He’s not a goal scorer but he’s what you want centering your fourth or third line.

He’s a big body, listed at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, with an excellent defensive game. Comeau is going to be missed on defensive deployments and the penalty kill and I believe that is where Stars’ head coach Jim Montgomery is going to want to see Gardner be able to perform. Chatter around the Dallas” Twittersphere” has said Gardner will be an NHL regular by Christmas. Well, it looks like he has the opportunity to make that happen a lot quicker than anticipated.

Nicholas Caamano

Caamano was also called up from the Texas Stars Friday morning. He and Gardner were the last two cuts of the training camp, so it is fitting that both of them will get their shot in a regular season game. Caamano was drafted 146th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, just 30 picks after formerly mentioned Gardner. He was the captain of the Dallas Stars Prospect team in Traverse City this summer and his speed was a noticeable asset. He will likely get slotted on the third or fourth line wings if the coaching staff choose to give him his NHL debut. One of the big preaching points for the Stars this season is creating offense with pressure and turnovers while on the forecheck. Caamano has the speed and tenacity to do that and will likely need to be an area of expertise if the 21-year-old winger wants to stick around in the NHL.

After the Stars’ first period against the Bruins, they really settled in and started pushing the pace. Even though they lost to the defending Eastern Conference champions, there was a lot to like. Adding in some youth throughout the lineup could create a nice spark as the Stars head to St. Louis to start their back-to-back weekend against the Blues and Red Wings.