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Philippe Desrosiers ready to take another step forward

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars goaltending prospect Philippe Desrosiers’ first professional season turned out to be a good one. But there were some lessons along the way. Lessons he explained a couple of months into his career with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL.

“In junior, I was the best goalie in the league maybe, so maybe it was easier,” Desrosiers said. “But here there a lot of good players, a lot of good goalies too. I think it is the biggest step for me.”

And with those lessons learned, Desrosiers is hoping to make another stride in his development this coming season.

“I have one year of professional hockey under my belt, so I know what to expect, but now it is take a step forward as a full AHLer,” Desrosiers said.

For the 20-year-old Desrosiers, who is among the 32 players at Dallas Stars development camp this week, that would mean being a full-time goaltender with the Texas Stars of the AHL. Desrosiers got a taste of the AHL last season, but he spent most of his time in the ECHL, where he posted a 15-7-6 record with a 2.34 goals-against average and .913 save percentage with Idaho. He got off to a slow start but finished the season on a 12-1-4 run, 2.10 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

“It was good. First ten games in the ECHL were rough but after that, I took my run,” Desrosiers said. “I played ten games in the AHL, which was great for me.”

In those ten AHL games, he posted a 5-5-0 record, 2.82 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. There were lessons there as well.

“When you play in the AHL you have to be good every game. If you are not good, it is five goals in,” he said. “Working hard every day. Work hard on the ice, eat well, sleep well.”

Overall, the transition to the life of being a professional was a smooth one for Desrosiers, a second-round pick in 2013 who was the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Goaltender of the Year in 2015. It took him a couple of months to get comfortable living on his own. Knowing how to cook – thanks to mom – was a big help. And by the end of the season, which ended with Idaho losing to the Allen Americans in the first round of the ECHL playoffs in seven games, the Stars liked what they had seen from Desrosiers.

“He had a good season. The best place for him was in the ECHL. It gave him the opportunity to get the net a lot,” said Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “And when he got an opportunity to play with Texas he played really well. He had a good first season, and he had the ability to get the net a lot. I think that sets the table nicely for him for [this season].”

Dallas’ minor league goaltending will have a different look this season. Jack Campbell, the Stars’ first-round pick in 2010, is no longer in the system. He was traded to Los Angeles at the draft for minor league defenseman Nick Ebert. Texas signed Landon Bow, who had an excellent 2015-16 season in the Western Hockey League, to an AHL contract. And there is Maxime Lagace, who was one of the big surprises among Dallas prospects last season, bypassing Campbell and grabbing the No. 1 job with Texas.

Desrosiers, Lagace, and Bow will compete for playing time in the AHL in 2016-17.

“It’s going to be a good challenge. I like having the young guys because one of them has to take the ball and run with it,” said Mike Valley, Dallas Stars director of goalie development. “Desrosiers has a lot of experience from last year, most of it in Boise but he had a stint in Austin. He did fine, but he went through ups and downs. He had some learning. Lagace had a little bit of a breakthrough year. He did things that guys weren’t expecting him to do. He has a lot of skill, and he has to build off of that momentum he had last year. Bow had a really good run in the Western League, and we are expecting him to push as well.

“Anytime you have three guys, that’s a good thing. They are all young, and we need someone to step up and be our third guy in line.”

And Desrosiers, who is using this week at development camp to help him get ready for the upcoming season, said he is ready to show that he is that guy.

“Now it’s my time,” he said. “I think I can be the goalie Dallas needs in the future. Now, it’s be ready for training camp, be a great goalie and prove I can have success in the AHL.”

Goalie prospect Ruusu heading in right direction

An under the radar goaltending prospect at development camp this week is Markus Ruusu of Finland, a sixth-round pick in 2015. The 18-year-old played both in Finnish juniors and in the country’s second highest league last season.

“It was a pretty good year,” said Ruusu, who is listed at 6-2, 175 pounds. “Lots of downs and ups but a pretty good end for the season. I developed a lot, got stronger and faster, and I learned a lot.”

He started the season in juniors and then played 20 games with JYP-Akatemia in the second league, posting a 3.09 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. He finished the season back in juniors, posting a .924 save percentage in the playoffs. The Stars like what they saw last season, especially Ruusu’s improvement.

“Very calm in net,” said Kari Takko, Stars director of European scouting. “He is heading in the right direction.”

A sign of Ruusu’s rising stock is that he is under consideration for Finland’s national junior team. He’ll attend a camp with the Finnish team later this month and is hoping to be one of the goaltenders that will travel to Plymouth, Michigan at the end of July for a tournament with teams from the USA, Canada, and Sweden in preparation for the 2017 World Junior Championship.

“That’s one of my goals for next year,” Ruusu said. “World Juniors.”

Ruusu will play in Finland next season and has a shot at playing in the highest league with JYP.

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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