Dallas Stars prospect Radek Faksa headed back to his junior hockey team over the weekend after a couple productive weeks with the Dallas Stars.
Faksa, Dallas’ first round pick (13th overall) in 2012, played for the Stars at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan in early September. Then he spent more than a week at Stars’ training camp, and on Friday he got a chance to play in his first NHL preseason game.
“It was a good experience because I played against NHL guys,” Faksa said. “It is a different speed than juniors. I am very happy for the opportunity and I will take lots from this game.”
Faksa, who centered a line with Francis Wathier and Matej Stransky on his wings, led the Stars with five shots on goal in their 4-1 victory over Florida in San Antonio. It was a good showing for Faksa, but the 19-year-old still has some developing to do before he is ready for the NHL.
“He made some really good plays. He just needs that little extra step, that little extra quickness,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There were a couple of times he was just a step away from getting an inside edge on a defender to get a shot away. Some of that is his hands and some of that is his quickness, but I think that will come. He defends well. As a young centermen you’ve got a tough job, but he defended well.”
The 6-3, 210-pound Faksa is considered a strong defensive center with some offensive upside. He led all OHL rookies in goals (29), assists (37) and points (66) in 62 games with the Kitchener Rangers during the 2011-12 season. Last season, Faksa was slowed by an early season illness and then a midseason knee injury.
He is looking to bounce back in 2013-14, and he seems poised to do that. Despite the setbacks last season, Faksa has made strides over the last year. He was among the more impressive players at the Stars’ development camp in July. He had an excellent showing in Traverse City, registering three points (one goal, two assists) in four games while centering the team’s top line with Valeri Nichushkin and Alex Chiasson as his wings.
”Those guys were amazing to play with,” said Faksa. “I had lots of fun there. It was my first time there and I really liked it.”
Expectations are high for Faksa this season. He knows it and he is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a very big year,” Faksa said. “I will be a leader on my team. Everyone is expecting big things from me because I am a first-rounder. I have big hopes for the future. I am very excited because I had a good summer. I am looking forward to having a good season.”
Faksa played for Czech Republic at the 2013 World Junior Championship, and he should play at the 2014 tournament as well. Depending on his so goes with Kitchener, he could join the Texas Stars late in the season. He played two games with Texas last season, picking up on assist. He is expected to turn pro full time in 2014-15.
The 2013-14 season got underway in the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League over the weekend. Here are a few notes on Stars prospects playing in those leagues and in Europe.
*C Gemel Smith (fourth round/2012) notched a hat trick and was named the game’s first star as Owen Sound (OHL) opened the season with a 5-3 victory over Mississauga Friday night. Smith notched another goal Saturday, giving him four goals in the first two games of the season.
*RW Cody Payne (trade acquisition/2013) picked up four goals in his first two games of the season for Saginaw of the OHL, tallying two goals in each game.
*C Jason Dickinson (first round/2013) picked up a goal and an assist as Guelph (OHL) won its season opener over Erie, 4-3, in overtime. Dickinson assisted on the game-winning goal 13 seconds into OT.
*C Mike Winther (second round/2012) registered a goal, two assists and a plus-five rating as Prince Albert (WHL) defeated Saskatoon, 6-1, in its season opener. Winther was named the game’s first star.
*RW Branden Troock (fifth round/2012) scored the winning goal in the shootout as Seattle (WHL) defeated Portland, 4-3, in its season opener. Troock was named the third star of the game.
*D Troy Vance (fifth round/2011) scored the winning goal in the ninth round of the shootout as Charlottetown (QMJHL) defeated Saint John, 3-2, on Sunday. Vance has two assists in four games so far this season.
*D John Klingberg (fifth round/2010) has one goal in three games since returning to the Swedish Hockey League to play for Frolunda. Klingberg is averaging 20:47 of ice time per game.
*D Ludwig Bystrom (second round/2012) is averaging 15:41 of ice time per game for Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League. Bystrom has no points and a plus-one rating through four games.
Dallas Stars Prospects Statistics
Click Here for statistics for Dallas Stars prospects playing in juniors, Europe and college.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars.