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Stars prospects at the World Junior Summer Showcase

Oettinger, Tufte, Karlstrom, and Robertson get a look as process begins for picking rosters for World Junior Championship

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Some of the top prospects of the Dallas Stars were on the ice over the past week, taking part in the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

Players from the USA, Canada, Sweden, and Finland were at the camp, which begins the process of selecting rosters for the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York.

Dallas prospects Jake Oettinger (USA), Riley Tufte (USA), Jason Robertson (USA), and Fredrik Karlstrom (Sweden) were among the top under-20 players taking part.

It is the summer, so you shouldn't read too much into the camp, but it was still an opportunity to see how players stacked up against other players from their own age group.

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Dallas lands 2018 NHL Draft

The draft coming to American Airlines Center next June is a testament to the success of the Stars

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Southlake's Jace Foskey has been a Dallas Stars fan since he can remember, attending games with his family at American Airlines Center. Next June, the 17-year-old Foskey hopes to be at American Airlines Center again. This time as a draft eligible defenseman when the 2018 NHL Draft comes to Dallas.

"Having the draft here is going to be great for Dallas, getting the exposure and hopefully to increase hockey in Texas," said Foskey. "And having the possibility of being drafted in the hometown is unimaginable."

Foskey plays for Tri-City in the USHL and has committed to play college hockey at Harvard. He and forward Ryan O'Reilly, who is also from Southlake and will be draft eligible next summer, were on hand Saturday night at Reunion Arena Park when the NHL, City of Dallas, and Stars announced the draft coming to Dallas next June 22-23. Both young players, who grew up playing hockey in the DFW area, are proof of how much hockey has grown since the Stars arrived in Dallas in 1993.

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Net gain

2017 draft pick Jake Oettinger a major boost to goaltending pipeline for Stars

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars solidified their present goaltending picture by acquiring Ben Bishop this offseason and then signing him to a six-year contract. The team's goaltending future is looking bright as well, especially with the addition of Jake Oettinger, whom the Stars took with their second pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.

The Stars were high enough on Oettinger that they traded up in the draft, moving from the 29th overall pick to 26th to grab the 18-year-old netminder out of Boston University.

"He was one of the top goalies in the draft," said Stars GM Jim Nill. "And he's a guy we wanted bad."

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The road to opportunity

Long trips to practice in an RV helped begin Jason Robertson's journey to becoming a Dallas Stars draft pick

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Jason Robertson's path to becoming a Dallas Stars draft pick began in Southern California, on the roads of Los Angeles. In an RV.

With a long drive to the rink and the Robertson brothers practicing at different times, that RV became a home away from home for part of the day.

"The rink in Los Angeles, with traffic, is probably an hour-and-a-half away," Robertson said. "My older and younger brothers played hockey and their practices would be at three and mine would be at six. We just couldn't have one go and then another guy comes. We go at three and wait until my practice."

Robertson would do typical kid stuff in the RV while waiting for his turn to hit the ice.

"I'd do my school work, watch TV and have dinner," he said. "You were back home at nine, so you had to do your school work at some time.

And it just became part of the routine when he was eight to ten years old.

"It was a lot of trips," Robertson added. "A lot of miles."

And there have been a lot of miles since for Robertson, who got hooked on hockey because his dad and grandfather were Los Angeles Kings fans and would take him to games. That put his hockey career into motion.

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Eager to win

Marc Methot, Martin Hanzal excited for opportunity to win with Stars

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Marc Methot's road to becoming a Dallas Star was a bumpy and uncertain one. On June 18, the Ottawa Senators made him available for selection in the NHL expansion draft. On June 21, the Vegas Golden Knights took him in the expansion draft. And then shortly after that he was on the trade market.

But the uncertainty turned to excitement on June 26 when the Stars acquired Methot for goaltending prospect Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in 2020.

"I think that state of not knowing where we were going was tough initially. I think anybody could say the same thing playing in this league or any sports league. But finally, when I got the call and was told that I was going to be a Dallas Star, I was practically shaking," Methot said. "I was at dinner with [my fiancée] and her parents. I was at a steakhouse in Ottawa and had to leave the table to run outside. It was really exciting for us. It's such a great situation. We are going down to a nice, warm climate with a good, good hockey team."

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Something to prove

Getting passed over in the NHL Draft has provided plenty of motivation for defense prospect Gavin Bayreuther

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Stars defense prospect Gavin Bayreuther was passed over in three NHL Drafts, but he turned it into a positive. Disappointment provided motivation.    

NHL teams passed over Bayreuther in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 drafts. In his final year of eligibility - the 2014 NHL Draft - he was coming off an impressive freshman season at St. Lawrence University in which he ranked third nationally in points per game among defenseman with 36 points (nine goals, 27 assists) in 38 games. NHL Central Scouting had him ranked 48th among North American skaters, but no takers.

"I was very upset, to be honest, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me," Bayreuther said. "It made me work so much harder, take nothing for granted. Prove everyone wrong."

Now, Bayreuther hopes he is on his way to proving his point. After three more solid seasons at St. Lawrence where he was among the top scoring defensemen in the nation, he was one of the more sought after free agents coming out of college. And after sorting through offers from a handful of NHL teams, he signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars in March.

"A dream come true," Bayreuther said at the time of the signing.

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Heading in the right direction

Stars prospect Riley Tufte looking to build on freshman season in college

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

You can't read a lot into what you see on the ice at Dallas Stars development camp. Players aren't there to be evaluated but to get acclimated to the organization, work on some skills, learn how to train and soak in what it takes to be a pro hockey player. But it was hard not to notice forward Riley Tufte at this year's camp.

Tufte, who is listed at 6-6, 210 pounds, was one of the biggest guys on the ice. And he stood out in drills with his skating, his ability to control the puck and being able to dominate along the boards with his size and strength. If you had seen him one year ago at camp, the growth in his development was evident.

And growth is what the Stars saw from Tufte, the team's first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, over the course of his freshman season at the University of Minnesota Duluth. After a slow start due to missing time with a wrist injury, the big left wing finished the season with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 37 games.

"Big step for him," said Stars GM Jim Nill. "What really excited us is the last half of the season is he really took off. He was a dominant force in the playoffs. We are looking for great things from him this season back in Duluth."

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Ready for the next step

Finnish forward Roope Hintz excited about making the jump to North America this coming season

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Ask the Dallas Stars about forward prospect Roope Hintz, and you will get some glowing reviews. Ask about Hintz coming over to North America to play this season, and you'll get more favorable reactions.

"We're excited," Stars GM Jim Nill said when asked about Hintz at the team's development camp over the weekend. "He had a breakout year last year."

Hintz's breakout year included tallying 30 points (19 goals, 11 assists) in 44 games for HIFK in Finland's top league. He ranked ninth in the league in goal scoring despite missing the first 11 games of the season due to an injury suffered at a preseason tournament. Then he had a strong postseason, leading the league in playoff scoring with 14 points (three goals, eleven assists) in 14 games as HIFK advanced to the semifinals.

"It was pretty good in the end," said Hintz. "I was injured the first six weeks, but after that it went up."

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Miro Heiskanen excited about first NHL contract

Third overall pick in 2017 draft will play with Stars prospects in Traverse City and then attend training camp

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

It's been an exciting couple of weeks for Miro Heiskanen. The Stars selected the 17-year-old Finnish defenseman with the third overall pick late last month at the NHL Draft in Chicago. He made his first trip to Texas this week for Stars development camp. And on Saturday, he signed his first NHL contract, a three-year, entry-level deal with the Stars.

"I am really excited," Heiskanen said. "It's a big day for me."

And the Stars are excited about the slick skating Heiskanen, who played in Finland's top league last season and was considered the top defenseman in this year's draft.

"He's a great young player. He was a player our scouts were watching all year, the last couple of years," Stars GM Jim Nill said. "I was able to go to the Under-18 World Championships and see him. He was arguably one of the best players over there and maybe the best defenseman. He's what you are looking for in an NHL defenseman. He can skate, he can move the puck. He's a guy that is never under pressure; the game looks awful easy to him. We're excited that he is part of our future. I think he really helps moving our defense moving forward."

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Stars offseason scorecard

A look at who's in and who's out so far as Jim Nill reworks the Dallas roster

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

It's been a busy and productive offseason for Stars GM Jim Nill as he has reworked his roster with a series of moves the past two months. He's upgraded his goaltending, added high-end skill and depth to his forward group and provided veteran presence to his blue line.

He also, of course, made a change to his coaching staff, choosing not to renew the contract of Lindy Ruff and bringing Ken Hitchcock back to the organization. Hitchcock should bring some structure and more defensive responsibility to the Stars game.

Nill is getting high marks for the moves, but he knows nobody wins simply because of free agent signings and trades. What Nill does acknowledge is that the work he's done this offseason is a good start to getting the Stars back on track and push to be a contender after a dismal 2016-17 season.

"We're excited about these moves, but we've got to go to work now," Nill said. "It doesn't guarantee anything. We like what we have on paper, but in the end, the goal for us is to be a contender every year, to get in the playoffs every year. We didn't do that last year for different reasons, injuries and everything else. In the end, I think we've given ourselves a good position, but we still have to do it. This game can humble you pretty quick, and it's a tough league, and we know we've got lots of work to do, and we're going to move forward from here."

Here's a look at who is in and who is out on the roster so far this offseason for the Stars.

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