Stars right wing, Colton Sceviour, has reached a pivotal point in his career. In the second season since his NHL debut, Sceviour transitioned from the minor league to the NHL with a few bumps along the way. Once considered a wild card in the Stars’ 2014 playoff appearance, Sceviour’s role remains undecided. The Stars right wing has yet to make the same strong impact with the Dallas hockey club that he had in Cedar Park. So far, what has caused Sceviour’s variable performance? Having seen his exceptional minor league performance, what should fans expect from him in the 2015-16 season?
2013-14: Sceviour Takes the AHL by Storm
Sceviour was the leading goal scorer in the AHL at the time Dallas recalled him in December 2013. Though not his debut, the winger netted his first goal in his first NHL game of the season against Jets netminder, Al Montoya. In 26 games, Sceviour scored eight goals and four assists for twelve points in the regular NHL season. With Texas, he took top honors as the league’s second highest goal scorer, posting 32 goals and 31 assists for 63 points in only 54 regular season games.
That same season, the AHL invited Sceviour and line mate, Travis Morin, to the All-Star Classic against Färjestad BK. There is no denying the pair’s chemistry, as Morin also took the AHL MVP title before the Texas Stars’ 2014 Calder Cup win. With their history and outstanding play in the minor league, Sceviour and Morin appeared poised to transition their prowess to the major league. While Morin remained goalless in four NHL appearances, Sceviour continued to make an impact in dramatic fashion, even posting a lone goal in Dallas’ 2014 playoff debut.
2014-15: Post-Surgery NHL Performance
Without Morin’s support, Sceviour’s production dropped off as a bottom six forward. Sceviour’s impact diminished as his play grew inconsistent, and the Stars struggled through multiple losing streaks.
Offseason surgery also hindered Sceviour’s offseason development in 2014. With a one-way contract averaging $650,000, the sophomore forward slowly lost ice time. Stars Head Coach, Lindy Ruff, blamed injury and surgery for Sceviour’s slow start last October, pointing to “missing a lot of good conditioning time through the summer” as the culprit.
This was not Sceviour’s first slow start, however. His professional debut with the Texas Stars showed similar development. In his first professional season following his junior career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Sceviour only posted nine goals and 22 assists for 31 total points across his 80-game 2009-10 season. In 2010-11 those numbers jumped to 16 goals and 25 assists for 41 points across 77 games. Through his next three seasons in Cedar Park, Sceviour’s point totals increased steadily, setting a potential trend. As his role in Dallas stabilizes, he could potentially see the same growth that he displayed with the Stars’ minor league affiliate. With one year left in his contract, his progress will have to accelerate to keep him on the Dallas roster.
2015-16: Sceviour’s Prospective Impact
The Stars missed many opportunities in the 2014-15 season. The team’s opportunity for a step forward instead resulted in regression following a surprising leap into the 2014 playoffs. Sceviour, however, stagnated in the goal scoring department; redeeming himself with overall point production. Sceviour’s shooting statistics average in the upper half of Stars forwards, but they too regressed since the 2013-14 season.
The bright side is that Sceviour still has time to strike up a breakout season with or without the Dallas Stars. The 26 year-old winger is reaching his prime NHL years (typically defined as ages 27-29), and he can make use of his full offseason for training and development. Without surgical hindrance, Sceviour has an opportunity to come back stronger during training camp, snagging his spot as a bottom-six forward on the Dallas roster. However, this is no easy task. As the second highest scoring team in the 2014-15 season, the Stars front end is stacked. While there was once room for players to compete for top minutes at forward, the top six are virtually solidified. Meanwhile, the bottom six spots are reserved for rotating veterans like Patrick Eaves, or saucy young prospects with an edge like Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie. The battle for the bottom six will be hard-fought.
Sceviour Fits the Stars’ Offensive Puzzle…With Effort
As hard as he worked to make a name for himself as a top AHL scorer, Sceviour will turn heads with his tenacity. The only questions left unanswered are whether or not this is a spot he truly desires, and if he is the right fit for the Stars’ ongoing puzzle. Like a Jenga set, adding or removing the wrong piece can easily tumble this fragile structure. As Sceviour is a guy who sets up camp in the slot, gets to the dirty areas of the ice, and scores backdoor goals, his physicality and positioning will pay dividends with time. Whether or not Nill and Ruff are willing to invest time and patience when younger players are waiting in the wings is the big question in the offseason.