“It’s a learning tool and it’s to help them become the best player they can be,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “And the other part is they get to know us as an organization, what our expectations are and how we conduct ourselves on and off the ice.”
For the latest draft picks, it is an introduction to the Stars. For veterans of the camp, it is a chance to reinforce concepts.
“Jim Nill likes to incorporate what the main team is doing. These guys get a little exposure to it, so by the time they hit the farm team in a few years they are pretty familiar with what’s going on,” said J.J. McQueen, Stars Player Development Coordinator.
The prospects are in town for than a week, and there is a lot on the agenda, so that can lead to some long days.
“It’s been fun, and it was challenging at first,” said defenseman Chris Martenet, a fourth-round pick in 2015 who is at his first camp. “You are out there all day. You’re up at 7, having breakfast at 7:30 or 8 and then going until 6 p.m. You are constantly doing something.”
Forward Devin Shore, a second-round pick in 2012, has been to several development camps, and it never gets old. There are some new faces, plenty of familiar ones and lots to soak in.
“I’ve been fortunate to be here the past few years, so I get to know the guys. It’s a great group of guys, and it is a lot of fun,” Shore said. “The same as every year, the coaches are great with us, and they teach us a ton. It’s a great week for learning, and we are trying to be sponges.”
There’s plenty of on-ice work. The players have been on the ice with the Stars head coach Lindy Ruff and assistant coaches Curt Fraser and James Patrick. Goaltending coach Jeff Reese and director of goaltending development Mike Valley are on hand as well. So are Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal and Texas assistant coach Karl Taylor.
“It’s good to hear from guys like that and to pick their brains because they have so much knowledge of the game,” Martenet said. “I am still learning a lot. Any questions I can ask or any feedback I can get from them about what I need to work on is a big deal for me because I know I need a lot of work.”
The camp isn’t just about the on-ice sessions. The prospects have plenty to do off the ice, including taking in some video sessions to get a grasp of how the Stars play. There are off-ice workouts and advice on training from the Dallas staff. The Stars also bring in a nutritionist to talk about diet.
“That’s really important,” said defense prospect Niklas Hansson, a third-round pick in 2013. “You have to take care of yourself and your body. That can be the difference between being an NHL player or not.”
The prospects got some advice this week from Stars captain Jamie Benn and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
There’s some relaxation mixed in as well. The players attended a Frisco RoughRiders baseball game, and there’s the Party in the Park event in Dallas on Friday.
The camp wraps up with a scrimmage and autograph session on Saturday. And then the players head home, and the Stars hope they take a lot of good information with them.
“The whole idea of the camp is to get them to develop some good habits,” said McQueen, “and when they leave here, start working on them.”
South Korean players at camp
There are several players not in the Dallas system at this week’s camp, including three from South Korea. Forward Jin-Hui Ahn, defenseman Won-Jun Kim and goaltender Kye-Hoon Park were invited to the camp after Stars GM Jim Nill got a call from old friend Jim Paek.
Paek, a former NHL player and former assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit’s AHL affiliate), is now the head of South Korea’s hockey program. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, and South Korea is hoping to qualify in ice hockey.
“It’s his task to get them into the Olympics,” Nill said. “He called and said he’s got three kids he’d like to get into the camp, they need the experience and they need to learn what it takes to make the next step. I said, “I’d love to help you out.’ They’ve come in here, and they are great kids off the ice and on the ice they’ve been as good as anybody else and played very well.”
All three of the players attending the Dallas camp are on South Korea’s national team. Ahn and Kim spent time at the Detroit Red Wings development camp before coming to Frisco to work with the Stars.
“It’s an amazing experience for us. It’s nice to be here,” Kim said. “This gives us a lot of confidence, improves our skills.”
Gurianov, Hintz miss camp
The Stars’ top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft were unable to make this week’s development camp. First-round pick Denis Gurianov had a commitment with his KHL team in Russia. Second-round pick Roope Hintz hurt his back training in Finland. The Stars decided to let him stay home and rest since his Finnish team starts training soon. Also unable to attend camp was fifth-round pick Joseph Cecconi.
The guys in red jerseys
Three of the Dallas prospects attending the camp have been skating in the red no-contact jerseys: forward Radek Faksa and defensemen Niklas Hansson and Alex Peters.
Faksa missed the second half of last season with the Texas Stars due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. This camp is his first chance to get back on the ice in a practice setting.
“My shoulder feels great,” Faksa said. “I didn’t have problems in the gym, and I was able to do everything 100 percent.”
Hansson has been dealing with an upper-body injury.
“Small problem and just being safe so I will be prepared for the season,” said Hansson, who will play in the Swedish Hockey League in 2015-16.
Peters missed almost all of last season after undergoing knee surgery. He skated in the red jersey on Tuesday and Wednesday, but on Thursday he was wearing a regular practice jersey.
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.