Just a few days ago, the Dallas Stars announced their final roster, with some new faces set to grace the ice for the first game of the 2021-22 season. However, a few changes were made, players were shuffled to accommodate some injuries, and that left most of the prospects out of the lineup. But that doesn’t mean they are out of chances to skate in an NHL game. The Stars had a strong batch of prospects during training camp as well as during the preseason, but now that the regular season has begun, where do these young guys stand? For the most part, the standout prospects thrived during the preseason, but sending them down to the American Hockey League (AHL) to play for the Texas Stars doesn’t mean their season journey stops here.
Peterson Is Primed
While he was not originally selected for the final roster and was looking to settle in with Texas, Jacob Peterson did nothing but impress in the preseason. At 22 years old, the fifth-round draft pick came over from Sweden with a fire under his feet and was a strong contender for the regular season. He played on lines with both Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov during training camp and fit almost perfectly into the role of power forward for the Stars.
In the game against the New York Rangers on Oct.14, Peterson made his NHL debut on a line with Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski, replacing an injured Jason Robertson, and scoring the first goal of the night, his first NHL goal at that.
“He’s fitting in with whoever he’s playing with. Guys love playing with him because he’s got such good hockey sense. He kills penalties, he’s good on the power play. We want to keep looking at him, but he’s put himself in a serious position to make the hockey club. He’s been that good.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
The Swede was noticeable right from the start of training camp, turning heads with his intense hockey smarts, seeing plays and knowing where he needs to be. Bowness said he has fit in with anyone he played with, including Seguin.
“I think his skill is the first thing, but the thing I noticed right away was his confidence and his mind. He’s not your typical rookie.”– Stars forward Tyler Seguin
The center is poised for a long and illustrious career, set to settle in with the Stars sooner rather than later.
Oettinger Set for Net
During the 2020-21 season, Oettinger had to step up and fill in for Ben Bishop, who was out for most of the season with a knee injury. His NHL experience demonstrated his cool attitude and his calm presence between the pipes, putting him neck in neck with Anton Khudobin as the go-to guy in the crease. Bowness says he hopes the goaltender works hard in the AHL and prepares himself for the call-up, which is likely to happen before the season is over.
“Now, he’s going to Austin. This is a bump, but you’ve got to be mentally tough to overcome it. You’ve got to be mentally tough to go down there and play your game and get ready for the call.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
The netminder has previous NHL hours with the Stars, logging a .911 save percentage in the 2020-21 season. And there’s a chance he will see some NHL ice this regular season if he keeps up his goalkeeping grit in Texas.
Dellandrea Nearly Ready
Ty Dellandrea was one of the few to be truly considered for the opening night roster but unfortunately wasn’t deemed NHL-ready just yet, and was sent back to Texas. He had some big league experience last season (albeit only putting up five points) and continued to impress in the preseason, making him one of the few prospects to be given a chance for the start of the regular season.
But as the center finds himself back with the Texas Stars, he will once again have the chance to iron out his maturity in order to earn a spot in the lineup in the regular season. With him being so close this first time around, his drive to make the roster and stay there is fervent. The center was able to show off his skills in 2020-21 with the Stars, and he is still riding off the high of this season’s training camp, hoping to improve all aspects of his game.
“I worked a lot on not just my strength but strength in my skating. A lot of stuff to do with getting stronger with the puck and being able to stay in the positions where I can protect the puck and move with the puck instead of getting pinned. I’ve done a lot of work with getting my legs stronger to get stronger in my skating.”– Texas forward Ty Dellandrea (The Athletic, “With offseason emphasis on skating, Ty Dellandrea hopes to capture NHL spot with Stars”. Sept.12, 2021)
Harley Poised for NHL Appearance
Thomas Harley is on the brink of being ready for the Stars’ roster. He had an impressive AHL campaign in Texas, putting up 25 points in the shortened season. The Syracuse native proved he is an effortless skater with strong reaction time with the puck during his time in Texas. His passing ability was on display during the 2019-20 Stanley Cup playoffs, where he played with the Stars, showing off his speed as well.
Despite his 6-foot-3 frame, the defenseman doesn’t have the aggressive playing attitude that he may need to stand out among the others. He is good at closing the gap at the blue line but might need to figure out what kind of player he wants to be before he is ready to play with the NHL pros, besides just a fast one. The blueliner showed up during the 2021-22 preseason, even netting a goal during the game against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct 3.
Harley is one of the Stars’ “young talents,” and he may just be able to fill one of the inevitable holes in the Stars’ roster come the end of the season (The Athletic, “Yousuf: Career trajectories are on the line for Rick Bowness, Jim Nill and veteran Stars this season”, Oct.14, 2021).
The regular season has only just begun, so these prospects have plenty of time to sharpen their skills in the minor league and prove they deserve to move up. There isn’t room for everyone on the roster, but knowing the Stars’ luck, the team may have a lineup riddled with injuries yet again this season and need to call up some men. But even if the Stars manage to remain healthy, and here’s to hoping they do, lines could rearrange, and the prospects may get an NHL stage to shine on.
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.