What it is not is an evaluation camp. It’s not a training camp, jobs and playing time are not on the line. Guys haven’t spent the summer preparing for development camp. Some guys may have been skating for a while this summer and others may have just started.
And you are dealing with prospects; some are farther along the development path than others. There were a few guys out there with a year or two of professional experience and some just getting ready to start college careers. So, it’s good to keep camp in perspective.
You get a better read on some of these guys when they play at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan in September and all of them, of course, over the course of their seasons in juniors, college, over in Europe or the AHL/ECHL.
That said, I think players are still trying to make an impression at development camp and Stars management – no matter what they say – are paying watching and taking note of his guy or that guy. So, that makes it fun to watch.
And there is plenty to soak in at the camp. It’s an opportunity to see the latest batch of draft picks. All six players selected in this year’s draft were on hand. The Stars’ top two picks in the 2015 draft – forwards Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz – didn’t make last year’s camp, so it was a chance to see both in person for the first time. Also, it’s an opportunity to see how much players who attended previous camps have improved over the past year or past couple years. There are some competitive drills where you can pick up stuff about a player. So, there is some value.
And while I am watching I am keeping in mind that all of these guys are not going to be NHL players. Some of them will. Some will have good careers in the minors, and others may end up playing in Europe. A few may move onto something else. Time will tell with all of them.
So, here are some thoughts and notes on the Dallas players at the camp. No particular order except the top five or six guys are the ones I focused on coming into camp.
Riley Tufte, LW (first round/2016): First chance to see him in person and he was impressive. Very impressive. For a kid coming out of high school, he did not look out of place with some guys who had pro experience. And he stood out at times, especially in the 3-on-3 camp scrimmage. Tufte, 18, has size (6-5/205), can skate, has skill and showed some finish. He’s still just a kid and has a way to go in his development. It will be interesting to see how he does this season as he begins his college career at Minnesota-Duluth, but he looks like a really good prospect.
Roope Hintz, LW/C (second round/2015): First chance to see him in person as well. He missed last year’s camp due to injury. He stood out at camp with his speed and skill. Can play both center or wing, but said he prefers playing center. The 19-year-old is coming off a good season in Finland, where he was a key player for his team that advanced to the championship series in that country’s top pro league. He won a gold medal at the World Junior Championship as well. He’ll return to Finland to play this coming season. Very good prospect.
Denis Gurianov, RW (first round/2015): First chance to see him in person. Gurianov, 19, missed last year’s camp because he was still under contract in the KHL and had commitments in Russia. The skating and skill was evident this past week, and he gets his shot off quickly. I watched him quite a bit last season via the magic of the internet, and he has some really good offensive instincts. Nice kid as well and people around the Stars say he has a great attitude and work ethic. He’s expected to start in the AHL this coming season, and there will be an adjustment, learning a new language and getting used to living over here. It will be fun to watch his progress.
Devin Shore, LW/C (second round/2012): It was good to see Shore out there after he missed the second half of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. This was a good chance for him to see where he was in the recovery process, and he looked good. Shore, who turns 22 later this month, had a superb first pro season, scoring 15 goals in 23 AHL games and making his NHL debut, playing three games with Dallas. There’s a lot to like about him. He’s a good two-way player, smart, can play center or wing. And he’s got a great attitude. He should start in the AHL again this season as he gets back up to speed, but he should be in the mix for NHL playing time.
Philippe Desrosiers, G (second round/2013): Desrosiers looked good at camp, and these things are shooting galleries when it comes to the goaltenders. You can see the improvement he’s made over the past year and in the few years since he’s been drafted. Last year was his first as a pro, and there were some ups and downs. Desrosiers, who turns 21 next month, got off to a bit of a slow start as he made the adjustment to playing in the pros, but played well down the stretch in Idaho (ECHL). Saw some time in the AHL, playing ten games and was fine there. He should battle Max Lagace for playing time with the Texas Stars this season. This season should be a good test. He’s making good strides.
Chris Martenet, D (fourth round/2015): Martenet, 19, is another guy whose improvement over the past year was evident at camp. The Stars obviously liked what they saw this past season, signing him to an entry-level contract in May. Martenet is listed at 6-7, 212 pounds and moves pretty well. Nothing fancy about his game, which leans toward the defensive side of things. He registered 12 points (three goals, nine assists) and a plus-44 rating in 67 games for the London Knights, who won Ontario Hockey League championship and then went on to win the Memorial Cup. Watched him in the Memorial Cup and thought he was OK. He could play in the AHL or go back to juniors this coming season. I’d put my money on juniors, but time will tell.
Fredrik Karlstrom, C (third round/2016): The third-rounder out of Sweden in this summer’s draft was as advertised. Slick, skilled center. His intelligence was evident during some of the more competitive drills, seemed to be ahead of the play. The 18-year-old put up some impressive numbers in Swedish juniors last season, registering 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 44 games. He’s going to continue to play in Sweden, and he’s someone to watch.
Nick Caamano, RW (fifth round/2016): Watching him out there this past week you wouldn’t know he’s still just 17-years-old. Did not look out of place up against guys who were 21 or 22 with a couple of years of AHL experience. He was impressive in the scrimmage. Kind of a north-south player who moves well and has some good skill. He potted 20 goals in the Ontario Hockey League last season. He’ll continue to play juniors for now. It will be interesting to see where he goes.
Rhett Gardner, C/LW (fourth round/2016): He seemed to be in the middle of things in the more competitive drills. He has good size (6-2/200) and looks like a solid prospect. He’s a 20-year-old who is coming off his freshman season at the University of North Dakota, where he helped his team win a national championship. Worked his way from a healthy scratch to a top-six role over the course of the season. Played both sides of special teams as well. He gets high marks for his character. Looking forward to see what he does as a sophomore.
Colton Point, G (fifth round/2016): He’s a big kid at 6-4, 220 pounds, obviously covers a lot of net, and he moves well. He was ranked 17th among North American goalies in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings and then ended up fourth in the final rankings, which tells you how much his stock went up over the course of his season with Carleton Place in the Central Canada Hockey League. Also got an invite to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Goaltending Camp in June. Point, 18, will attend Colgate University this coming season and could be the number one goaltender as a freshman. He’s a guy worth watching.
Jakob Stenqvist, D (sixth round (2016): The Stars always seem to pick a guy that isn’t listed on any of the draft rankings and this year it was Stenqvist out of Sweden. Very skilled, right-shot defenseman. Seemed to be a step ahead of things and showed some creativity in the competitive drills, and he has a sneaky shot. Scored a slick goal in the shootout during the camp scrimmage. The 18-year-old is listed at 165 pounds, so he’s got some filling out to do, but he showed some offensive abilities. Still a raw prospect. He’ll continue to play in Sweden and worth watching moving forward.
Markus Ruusu, G (sixth round/2015): He’s another guy who has shown a lot of improvement over the past year. His numbers in Finland weren’t great last season, but his teams weren’t that great either. Going through some adversity can be a good thing. A good sign is that Ruusu is on the radar of Finland’s national junior team for the World Juniors. Stars scouts have praised his calmness in net and coaches at the camp noted his improvement. Good kid with a good attitude, enjoyed talking to him while he was here. Ruusu, who turns 19 next month, could get some playing time in Finland’s top league next season, so he appears to be going in the right direction.
John Nyberg, D (sixth round/2014): Nyberg made an impression during the camp scrimmage, scoring two goals and assisting on one other. He was noticeable the rest of the week as well. He’s bounced around in Sweden the past couple years, but he has some good attributes. He’s a good two-way defenseman, skates well, has a good shot and is a good defender, according to Stars scouts. Nyberg, who turns 20 this week, will play in Sweden again this season.
Miro Karjalainen, D (fifth round/2014): He’s always caught my eye at these camps and has shown a lot of improvement since the Stars drafted him in 2014. He’s a big guy (6-5/205), although he looks bigger to me. He moves pretty well and has a hard shot. Nothing fancy in the way he plays. He’s a defensive defenseman and projects as a shutdown guy. He’s racked up some big penalty minutes at times over in Finland, so he’s got a bit of a mean streak. The 20-year-old will continue to play in Finland.
Michael Prapavessis, D (fourth round/2014): Smooth defenseman with offensive upside who has two years of college hockey under his belt. He led his team and tied for sixth in the ECAC in defenseman scoring with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 40 games for RPI. He saw a bigger defensive role this past season, often playing against the opposition’s top lines. He’ll be a junior this coming season and is making good progress.
Cole Ully, LW (fifth round/2013): He’s coming off his first professional season, which was a bit up and down. He played with both Texas (AHL) and Idaho (ECHL). He registered 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 42 games with Texas but missed the end of the season due to a collarbone injury. He looked liked he has recovered well. Not the biggest guy out there (6-0/170), but the 21-year-old has skill, good offensive instincts and a knack for putting himself in a position to score goals. We’ll see if he can work his way into more ice time this season.
Gemel Smith, LW/C (fourth round/2012): Smith has two years of pro under his belt and is entering the third and final year of his entry-level contract with the Stars. He’s played 133 games with Texas (AHL) the past two seasons but spent a little time in the ECHL last season, so it appears he’s still going through some bumps as he navigates the pro ranks. He can be an effective energy player when he is at the top of his game.
Branden Troock, RW (fifth round/2012): Like Smith, Troock has two years of pro experience and is entering the third and final year of his entry-level contract. He’s been slowed by injuries during his career, including concussion issues last season that limited him to 38 games with Texas. He’s got size (6-2/220) and some skill but is still looking to stay healthy and put it all together.
Landon Bow, G (free agent/Texas Stars): Bow is under an AHL contract with the Texas Stars for this coming season, signed as a free agent out of the Western Hockey League. He put up some impressive numbers after being traded from Swift Current to Seattle, posting a 1.76 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in 23 games. He has size at 6-5, 208 pounds. He should be behind Max Lagace and Philippe Desrosiers on the minor league depth chart, and we’ll see if he can push those two.
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. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.