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Dellandrea healthy, eager to reward Stars for first-round selection

Forward prospect overcomes celiac disease after two-year battle

by Jeff Miller / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Ty Dellandrea prides himself on being "a 200-foot player." He made that point crystal clear within minutes of being selected in the first round (No. 13) by the Dallas Stars at the 2018 NHL Draft last month.

A participant in their development camp last week, Dellandrea and other prospects walked the main training center hallway toward the entrance to the locker room, which features tributes to NHL award winners in Stars history.

Included was one for Jere Lehtinen, a three-time winner of the Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defensive forward. Lehtinen's No. 26 was retired by the Stars last season.

Does Dellandrea compare favorably to Lehtinen, who had 514 points (243 goals, 271 assists) in 875 games during a 14-season career with the Stars?

"That's a high standard," said Dellandrea, who turns 18 on July 21. "It doesn't get much better than that.

"I think Dallas is getting an all-around forward who is extremely competitive, takes care of his own end as well as has a strong offensive game. I think I play with a lot of character and a lot of passion."

Video: Stars draft F Ty Dellandrea No. 13

Those traits were tested the past two seasons with Flint of the Ontario Hockey League, in part because of a struggling team and a physical condition that left Dellandrea ill for almost two years and took months to identify.

He was diagnosed last December with celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder. The condition is being managed with a gluten-free diet.

"I was throwing up every two days or so," Dellandrea said. "First, they thought it was a virus. Then (I) tried going off dairy. Then (I) tried going off gluten and nailed it on the head. I felt like I had more energy."

The state of the team also challenged Dellandrea; Flint dropped from 72 points during his first junior season of 2016-17 to 45 points last season, when it allowed 316 goals. His roommate, linemate and 2016 Stars draft pick, Nick Caamano (fifth round, No. 146), was traded 23 games into last season as part of a roster shakeup.

Dellandrea responded by following up his 2016-17 output of 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 57 games with 59 points (27 goals, 32 assists) in 67 games.

The Stars front office was impressed by Dellandrea's production and intangibles.

"It was his attitude," general manager Jim Nill said. "He went to a team that … it was a mess. And he went there and said, 'I want to be part of this' and helped change the culture and everything else. He went there, stepped in, took ownership. I think he's got the right values."

Dellandrea said, "I just put more responsibility on myself. Sometimes it's about finding something else in yourself that you maybe didn't even know about."

Dellandrea (6-feet, 184 pounds) will return to Flint this fall after participating in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament from Sept. 7-11 and Stars training camp. He'd like to gain 10 pounds before then.

"We think he's just kind of touching the edge of what he can really become," Nill said. "I think he's going to blossom pretty quick."

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