The Stars have a pretty good history of navigating the respective careers of young prospects.

Dallas put forward Wyatt Johnston straight into the NHL as a 19-year-old last season, and he became a member of the All-Rookie Team. They sent Thomas Harley back to the AHL after playing 34 games in 2021-22, called him up with six games left in the 2022-23 season, and he became a key playoff contributor. They then put Logan Stankoven in the AHL to start this season, and he led the league in scoring before being called up in late February. He has 13 points in his first 18 NHL games.

Now, they’re hoping they have done the same thing with Mavrik Bourque, calling him up with the thought that he might make his NHL debut Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. The 22-year-old forward was the team’s first round pick in 2020 and has spent the past two seasons in the AHL. He had 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 70 games as a rookie and, in his second season, currently leads the AHL in scoring with 72 points (26 goals, 46 assists) in 66 games.

“I can’t think of somebody more deserving or who has done it right like he has,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s gone and spent basically two full years in the American league, had a good year last year. Came to camp, had a good camp. [We] gave him some things to work on and he went back and has been the best player in that league this year, which is the kind of development you want to see.”

Bourque and Stankoven were linemates for most of this season, and they took turns leading the AHL in scoring. The two were on a line with Jamie Benn at practice Friday, but DeBoer said the coaching staff is still making decisions on how it wants to deploy its lines. Dallas is in the middle of an eight-game win streak and has found some good rhythm in its lines. However, Tyler Seguin has battled some injuries in recent weeks and the team has been cautious in how they want to use him. Seguin didn’t practice Friday and could get a “maintenance day” either Saturday at Chicago or Sunday at Colorado.

“We’ve got some injuries we’re managing, it’s back-to-back,” DeBoer said.

When asked specifically about his decision-making with Seguin, DeBoer said, “It’s management, between the sports science department and the trainers and us, depending on how he’s feeling.”

Seguin has played on a line with Matt Duchene and Mason Marchment, but the guess is the coaches wouldn’t just put Bourque there. Stankoven has played on a line with Benn and Johnston, but there is a chance the coaches want to see the chemistry of Bourque with Stankoven, and might use Benn as a nice veteran anchor for the two.

The organization has done a great job of creating situations where the young players can succeed. Johnston has been living with the family of veteran Joe Pavelski and playing beside Benn. Stankoven has received similar treatment since his call-up. Now, it will be interesting to see what sort of support is given to Bourque.

“I think it’s critical,” DeBoer said. “The table for success is set by all of those little things – one is in the player’s control but also in the organization’s control. I think you try to do all of those things right.”

Bourque said he’s learned a ton in the AHL this year. He has been one of the top penalty killers with the Texas Stars, and also is among the team’s top power play threats.

“When I talk about Mavrik’s scouting report, I wouldn’t call him a one-dimensional offensive player,” DeBoer said. “I think his strengths probably lie a lot like Wyatt Johnston, he’s got a conscience defensively away from the puck, he’s got good hockey sense. That’s always nice from a coaching perspective.”

Bourque said he is looking forward to the chance to finally play in the NHL, and said it has been difficult to be patient at times, but that he understands the process.

“For sure I was questioning when I’m going to get my shot, but I’m just happy everything worked out,” Bourque said. “I’m more than ready to play in the NHL now.”

Key Numbers

The Stars set a new franchise record for consecutive wins on Thursday at eight. Over the span, they have outscored opponents 34-11.

25 & 55
Dallas has already tied the franchise record for road wins in a season at 25 and for road points in a season at 55. They have two remaining road games to potentially set new records.

Stars forward Roope Hintz has 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in his past 11 games against Chicago. That includes a hat trick on December 29, 2023.

He Said It

“I think everyone knows what’s at stake at this time of year. It’s easy to overlook that game thinking about Sunday, but we have a veteran group that understands the significance of taking care of the business at hand, and right now that’s Chicago.”

- Stars coach Pete DeBoer on the fact Dallas faces Chicago (31st in the League) on Saturday and Colorado (5th) on Sunday

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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