This is the second time around at Dallas Stars development camp for prospect Jason Dickinson. He knows what to expect now, and he also knows that what he learns at camp can pay dividends when he returns to his junior team.
“Be an every-dayer,” Dickinson said when asked what he took out of last year’s development camp. “I think that be an every-dayer mentality that they taught us really translated into my last season and how much more consistent I was in my play.”
The 19-year-old Dickinson, who is one of 35 players at this week’s camp in Frisco, is coming off a stellar season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. The Stars’ first round pick (29th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft won an OHL championship, earned a trip to the Memorial Cup and is now on the radar for Canada’s 2015 World Junior Championship squad.
He put up some solid numbers as well, registering 78 points (26 goals, 52 assists) in 68 games with the Storm. That’s 31 points more than he scored in the previous season. He tallied 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) in 20 playoff games as the Storm captured the OHL’s J. Ross Robertson Cup. Dickinson notched 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 4 games at the Memorial Cup, where the Storm lost to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the championship game.
“It was a good season,” said Dickinson. “It was a disappointing end to what was otherwise picture-perfect. You can’t look at that and say it was a tough go because we had a great run and everything else was stellar.”
Guelph was the highest scoring team in Canadian major junior hockey last season. Dickinson finished sixth on the team in scoring during the regular season, registering points in 43 of his 68 games and never going longer than three games without a point. Dickinson is one of the Stars’ top forward prospects. He can play center or wing, and spent last season at center.
“I played center all season. I fell more comfortable there,” he said. “I feel like I can skate more freely, kind of find my legs easier.”
But there was more to Dickinson’s game than providing some offense. He takes pride in playing a two-way game and being relied on at both ends of the ice.
“I like playing that kind of role where I am reliable in almost every area,” he said. “Where some can play only on the power play instead of the penalty kill, I can play both. I like that.”
Dickinson faced one of his bigger tests of the season at the Memorial Cup when Guelph coach Scott Walker gave his line the task of trying to shut down Val d’Or forward Anthony Mantha, the top scoring forward in Canadian major junior hockey. All Mantha did in 2013-14 was score 81 goals in 81 games including both regular season and playoffs. All he did in that game against Guelph was pick up one assist and a minus-3 rating as the Storm defeated Val d’Or, 6-3.
“I like to think that I am a strong defensive center,” Dickinson said. “To go out there against one of the top scorers in the league – in all of Canada actually – is pretty special and an honor to say I shut him down.”
Dickinson’s play last season earned him an invitation to Canada's 2014 National Junior Sumer Development Camp, which is part of the process for selecting the roster for the 2015 World Junior Championship.
“It’s exciting. Everything is happening this year. It’s a really exciting year for me,” Dickinson said. “I think all the experience I’ve had, the Under-18s and the all the camps that I’ve attended, I am going to be really comfortable going in there and I am going to make it hard for them to not take me.”
Making this year’s World Junior Championship tournament even more intriguing is the location. It will be played in Toronto and Montreal.
“It would mean the world,” said Dickinson. “It is every kid’s dream. Playing in front of your country is special.”
A strong start to next season in Guelph would help Dickinson’s bid to make Canada’s World Junior team. For now, the Stars like where the young forward is in his development.
“Jason had a really strong year. He’s taken another step forward in his performance. He’s right on track developmentally. He’s a good two-way player,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “We just have to be patient with him, work with him but he is a good young player. The coaches there love him, they respect his work ethic. He’s a well-rounded kid and has all things in his game that will allow him to move forward.”
Wednesday development camp schedule
Players are scheduled to be on the ice from 11:00 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Stars practice facility in Frisco. On-ice sessions are open to the public.
“I’m glad I’m here now. I can’t wait to get started and get things going out here. I want to be a big part of the Dallas Stars.”
-Stars 2014 first round pick Julius Honka during a talk with the media on Tuesday
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.