The Dallas Stars have had a season full of ups and downs, but their top line of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski has continued to be one of the top lines in the National Hockey League (NHL). But while both Robertson and Pavelski have been outstanding in their respective roles, Hintz, as a centre, has been an absolute standout among the roster.
The 25-year-old Finn, also known affectionately as “The Ace of Spades,” has proven he deserves a top-line spot. While he has 55 points (28 goals, 27 assists), and his linemates have more, the forward is next in line to become the face of the franchise. Move over, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn: There’s a new “ace” on the block.
Stars’ Top Line Action
After Pavelski agreed to spend another year in Dallas, fans were buzzing. He was set to spend another year — ideally on the top line — alongside two very talented youngsters. One of those is Hintz, who has also been catching the eye of every Dallas fan. The three forwards have been absolutely lightning on the ice, but it’s Hintz who has shown recently that he can hold his own spot on the roster.
Hintz’s offensive game has been unmatched. He has consistently been the one to watch when it comes to the Stars’ offense, skating fast up the ice, driving the net, and handling the puck like a seasoned veteran. His stick handling in particular has been incredible this season, placing him on the scoreboard every game. In the last five games, he has six points, five of which are goals.
He’s stepping up and been a great player for this team,” Benn said. “Seems to find a way to score big goals when we need it. It’s awesome to see.”– Stars’ captain Jamie Benn (From “Stars observations: Roope Hintz and Jake Oettinger shine, Miro Heiskanen progressing, Thomas Harley benched and more”, The Athletic, 3/22/22)
While he shines with his linemates, Hintz also has shown in recent games that he can shine on his own. His goals have peppered highlight reels since the start of the season, and it’s no surprise considering he’s young, and full of heart and energy. He’s taking tips from Pavelski, and transforming into a young leader.
Hintz’s Growth With Stars
This isn’t Hintz’s first season with the Stars (he’s been in Dallas since the 2018-19 season), but it’s the first time he’s made a name for himself on the team. He’s been a consistently good player since he came to Dallas, but has only recently started putting up numbers that are placing him at the top of the roster.
As his seasons with the Stars carried on, his points kept going up, from 22 points in his rookie season to 43 points last season in 2020-21. He grew into himself as a player, flourishing from a boy to a heavyweight player with fast legs and a keen hockey sense.
And his success can’t only be measured by his stats — he’s transformed into the driving centreman on the Stars’ top line. He’s on the first power-play unit, and has become a regular penalty killer for the Stars. He may have been on the roster since 2018, but now he’s a scorer.
What’s Next for Hintz
With his success on the top line, and his consistent point streaks, there is likely a long-term place on the team for Hintz. His chemistry with his teammates has kept him as a top player, and his on-ice perception has kept his skills as sharp as ever. After a small lapse in his scoring, he seems to have found his footing again, showing up big with the game-tying goal against the Edmonton Oilers on March 22, and scored two goals against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 24. His recent plays have made him look like one of the top forwards in the league.
Hintz spends most of his time in the offensive zone, which has probably been one of the reasons the Stars are still fighting their way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The only way for Hintz to go is forward — that’s why he’s “The Ace.”
Raylene Lung is a journalist based in Ottawa and has a Masters of Journalism from Carleton University. She has previously written for The Victory Press, The Hockey News, Canadian Geographic and most recently worked at CBC Edmonton. She still reads magazines religiously and loves women’s hockey. When she isn’t writing, she is riding her horse. She currently covers the Dallas Stars for The Hockey Writers.