For almost two years Ty Dellandrea tried to figure out why he was constantly getting ill.
"I was throwing up lots, every two days," he said. "At first, I thought I was really, really sick, like a virus or something."
That wasn't it, so he moved onto dietary changes.
"Then I tried going off dairy because I thought it was dairy."
Nope, that wasn't it.
Video: Stars draft F Ty Dellandrea No. 13
"Tried going off gluten."
"Went off gluten and felt loads better," Dellandrea said. "Felt like I had way more energy. Everything comes a little bit easier."
The move away from gluten came during the Ontario Hockey League's Christmas break last season and was one factor that helped fuel a strong second half for the Stars' first-round pick (13th overall) in this summer's NHL Draft. Dellandrea tallied 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) over his final 34 games with the Flint Firebirds to give him 59 points (27 goals, 32 assists) in 67 games for the season.
"Huge difference," Dellandrea said of how much the new diet helped. "I felt like I had more energy the full 60 minutes. Every shift I felt stronger."
Video: Nill gives his thoughts on the Stars' 1st round pick
Also pushing the 17-year-old center forward was his willingness to grab more responsibility after a struggling Flint team dealt away players for future assets. Dellandrea received high marks for his relentless play and never-quit attitude on a Flint team that finished last in the OHL's Western Conference and had the second-worst record in the league. The Firebirds scored the fewest goals in the OHL and allowed the most. But Dellandrea just kept chugging along.
"I just think I took my game to a new level. We had some players that left around the trade deadline, and I just put some more responsibility upon myself," Dellandrea said. "Sometimes it's just about finding something else in yourself that you didn't even know about. I just dug deep and did whatever I could to help the team. Even though the team was going through a rough situation, it was a big year for me personally, and I just tried to leave it all out there every night. It worked out pretty good."
Among the players Flint dealt away last season was Dallas forward prospect Nick Caamano, who happened to be Dellandrea's teammate for one-and-a-half seasons and his roommate last season until the trade. Now, they are back together in the Stars organization, and they have reunited this week at development camp in Frisco.
"I missed him. He left me all alone. Nick and I were super close. He is one of my best friends," Dellandrea said. "To be back with him, rooming together again, it's crazy. We lived together, and I also played on his line. Being back with him in the same organization, it's great."
Caamano, a fifth-round pick in 2016 by the Stars, helped showed Dellandrea the ropes while the two were together in Flint.
Video: Montgomery gives thoughts on busy day for the Stars
"Ty is a great kid. He comes from a great family," Caamano said. "What I learned from [development camp] and from main camp and seeing how the pros acted and took care of themselves, I try to bring that back into my lifestyle. He's always eager to learn. It was definitely a learning process for him and for me as well. I was trying to teach him how to get to the next step.
"We always joked how it would be if he got drafted by Dallas. We just thought it would be some mythical thing, but as the season went on he really picked up his game, and I am definitely excited to have him here."
Dellandrea didn't have any expectation that Dallas would select him at 13th overall and found out along with everyone else when Stars captain Jamie Benn made the announcement at American Airlines Center on the first night of draft weekend. Caamano said that if Dellandrea had been paying attention to his phone, he might have been a little more focused on the possibility of putting on that Stars jersey.
"Our billets were down in Dallas for the draft. I was texting my billet mom all day because Ty I guess was pretty nervous and wasn't answering his phone," Caamano said. "I was texting her, and I said, 'I have a good feeling that he is going to Dallas.' And when Dallas was drafting, I felt it was going to be Ty. And sure enough, it was."
There was plenty for the Stars to like about Dellandrea. He's an intense competitor who plays a strong two-way game and has some good offensive tools. Strong showings at the Top Prospects Game in January and at the Under-18 World Championship in April increased his draft stock.
Video: The 13th overall pick's first interview
"I think Dallas is getting an all-around forward who is extremely competitive and takes care of his own end and plays a strong offensive game," Dellandrea said. "I think I play with a lot of character and a lot of passion and I think that comes first and my abilities follow that up. I leave it all out there, and so that's what they're getting."
Dellandrea became the first Firebirds player ever to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. He was projected to go in the first round but went higher than some people expected when the Stars took him with the 13th overall pick. Some rankings had Dellandrea close to that spot, including Red Line Report (14th), The Hockey News (16th), and TSN's Craig Button (18th). And the Stars said other teams were high on the Toronto native as well.
"You look at some lists and things like that, but I know I had two teams come up to me [the day after the draft] and say they were trying their hardest to trade up to get him," said Joe McDonnell, Stars director of amateur scouting.
Dellandrea has been in Dallas since the draft. He's spent this week at development camp in Frisco, getting familiar with the organization, soaking in some advice on being a professional hockey player, and working out both on and off the ice. He's expected to play in He realizes that as a first-round pick there will be a lot of expectations moving forward, but he is ready for the challenge.
"Whether you go one through where ever, there are expectations," Dellandrea said. "Going 13th is going to motivate me going into the rest of the summer and next season. I know there are expectations and I am ready to live up to them."
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. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.
Read more: 2018 NHL Draft, Ty Dellandrea, Dallas Stars