Stars’ Ben Gleason Deserves to Be in NHL Lineup

The Dallas Stars are in need of some young, fresh talent, and Ben Gleason is a viable option to fill that gap in their roster. At 6-foot-1, the Michigan native is almost exactly what the Stars’ roster is looking for, despite their stacked D-line. He’s young, he’s offensive, and he put up some impressive stats during his time on the Stars’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. Dallas just signed him this past July to a one-year, two-way contract. 

Ben Gleason, Texas Stars
Ben Gleason playing defense for the Texas Stars . (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

He may not be the favourite in terms of prospects, but he definitely has assets that make him a valuable addition to the team. With all of the above working in his favour, as well as time spent maturing his game with Texas, he is ready to prove that all his hard work in the AHL paid off.

A ‘Star’ in Texas

Gleason made an impression in Cedar Park playing for the Texas Stars, putting up 17 points in 37 games during the 2020-21 season. He ranked second amongst the team’s blueliners and eighth in the club in points. After three seasons in the AHL, the defenseman registered 64 points, with 11 goals and 53 assists in 152 regular-season games with Texas. He also boasted a team-leading +13 plus/minus rating this past season. Unafraid to leave the zone to rush the net, he was elite on the second pairing with Jerad Rosburg and led the second power play unit.

NHL Experience

This won’t be Gleason’s first NHL contest — he made his Stars’ debut in a game against the Nashville Predators in November during the 2018-19 season. He registered one assist that game, and continued to play three more games in the NHL before finding his way to Texas. While the Stars have seen a few changes since 2018, it won’t be an issue for the prospect to settle into the NHL environment, given that he’s had a previous taste and a few years of AHL conditioning in his repertoire. In fact, it seems that the Stars sent him down with the specific purpose of eventually bringing him back up to shine on an NHL stage.

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Given the time between his first NHL debut and now, Gleason is likely going to be an entirely different hockey player than he was during the 2018-19 season. If he proves during training camp that he has both matured and elevated his skills, he is more than ready to have a second go-around at an NHL game with the Stars.

How Gleason Fits in the Lineup

As mentioned, the defensive situation in Dallas is not necessarily in need of improvement. With agile, big bodies like those of John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen already on the blue line, and hefty new additions like Ryan Suter and Jani Hakanpää (among others) making their way in, Gleason’s spot may be determined by projected lineups. However, he can bring more than a few things to the Dallas roster:

Youthful Energy

Gleason has one thing going for him for sure, and that’s his age. The Stars are facing a rapidly aging roster, with most of their “younger” guys approaching their 30s. While this doesn’t mean their skills are declining by any means, the team could benefit from young, eager talent. Gleason showed initiative in the AHL, and now needs to bring that energy to the bigger league. 

Defensive Grit

While the Stars’ defense is more than equipped, Gleason can serve to beef up the blue line and learn from the mature defensemen that are already in the lineup. With that experience, he could end up being an all-star defenseman. His time in the AHL allowed him to improve his defensive game and take on more responsibility at the blue line. 

All-Around Playmaking

Gleason is an offensive defenseman, making him extra dangerous on the blue line. He could be at an advantage alongside one of the more offensive blueliners already on the roster. If his numbers in the AHL mean anything, it’s that he has skill on the offensive side. The Stars can always benefit from a gritty D-man who wants more than to just block shots — a player that skates from end to end with a purpose is always an attractive asset, and Gleason is it.

Ben Gleason, Texas Stars
Ben Gleason has played the past three season with the Texas Stars. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Texas Stars coach Neil Graham called the defenseman a dynamic player with good hands and great playmaking, and Texas’ general manager Scott White has previously said he has a consistent game (‘Stars prospect update: How Adam Mascherin, Riley Tufte, Ben Gleason and Thomas Harley are performing in the AHL’, The Dallas Morning News, Apr. 2, 2021). Gleason could just be the all-around youngster that the Stars are yearning for.  

“His commitment to trying to be a better overall defenseman is there without sacrificing the offensive ability that he has.”

— Scott White, Texas Stars general manager

His Future With the Stars

Gleason deserves a chance to prove himself worthy of a defensive spot in the lineup. With his time spent developing in Texas to his ability to add both defensive depth and youth to the Stars, he has the potential to prove he deserves a spot in the Stars’ lineup. On the first day of training camp, he was paired with Joseph Cecconi, which is effectively the “newbie” line (‘Stars notebook: Dallas being cautious with Roope Hintz; Lineup begins taking shape’, The Dallas Morning News, Sept. 23, 2021). But with more experience skating with the current Stars roster, the blueliner can likely forge a permanent spot if he proves he can bring offense, which the Stars are addressing at training camp. 

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