After winning a gold medal at the World Junior Championship in Canada last week, it's back to the University of Michigan for Stars defense prospect Joe Cecconi.
Cecconi had a strong showing at the World Juniors, picking up two assists and playing a strong defensive game as the USA won all seven of its games at the tournament. Cecconi, a right-shot defensive defenseman, was particularly impressive in the gold medal game against Canada, ranking third among USA defensemen with 25:58 of ice time. He was a key penalty killer for the USA throughout the tournament.
ESPN ranked Cecconi among the surprises at the World Juniors for starting the tournament as the USA's seventh defenseman and finishing it in a top four role. He caught the eye of Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff as well.
"He's just a steady defender. What a great experience for him," Ruff said. "He's got a different set of tools than the other guys, more of a stay at home and keep it simple. I didn't get to see all the games, but from what I heard he had a real strong tournament."
Cecconi, who is listed at 6-2, 222 pounds, has been a top four defender this season at the University of Michigan, where he has one assist in 16 games. Michigan had this past weekend off, but resumes play this coming weekend with a pair of games against the University of MInnesota.
Cecconi Stats: Michigan (NCAA) | 16 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 PT | -2 | 12 PIM
Here's an update on other Dallas prospects playing in college, juniors and Europe this season.
*C Fredrik Karlstrom (3rd round/2016) has returned to playing for AIK in Sweden's second league after playing at the World Juniors, where he registered three points (one goal, two assists) and a plus-four rating in seven games for Sweden, which finished fourth in the tournament. ESPN listed Karlstrom as one of the surprises at the World Juniors, where he started as Sweden's 13th forward and then saw his ice time increase as the tournament moved along. Karlstrom, who is only 18, can play at the World Juniors again next year. The slick skating, skilled Karlstrom is among the top junior scorers in Sweden's second league with 17 points (seven goals, ten assists) in 26 games.
Karlstrom Stats: AIK (SWE-2) | 26 GP | 7 G | 10 A | 17 PTS | -1 | 2 PIM
*LW Roope Hintz (2nd round/2015) scored two goals in three games over the past week for HIFK in Finland's top league, giving him five goals in his past seven games. Hintz has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 23 games this season.
*G Markus Ruusu (6th round/2015) has not played in Finland since his return from the World Juniors, where he was the third goaltender for the Finns, who missed the playoffs at the tournament and finished ninth out of ten teams. Ruusu did not dress for any of the games at the World Juniors.
Ruusu Stats: JYP (Liiga) | 3-1-0 | 1.91 GAA | .940 SV%
JYP-Akatemia (Mestis) | 6-7-1 | 4.04 GAA | .865 SV%
*D Aleksi Makela (7th round/2013) did not register any points in two games for Assat in Finland's top league. Makela has one assist in 34 games this season.
Makela Stats: Assat (Liiga) 34 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 PT | -6 | 18 PIM
*D John Nyberg (6th round/2014) scored the game-winning goal in Frolunda's 3-1 win over Orebro in the Swedish Hockey League last week. Nyberg has registered eight points (three goals, five assists) and a plus-seven rating in 31 games.
Nyberg Stats: Frolunda (SHL) | 31 GP | 3 G | 5 A | 8 PTS | +7 | 18 PIM
*D Niklas Hansson (3rd round/2013) did not register any points in two games for HV 71 in the Swedish Hockey League this past week. Hansson has seven points (one goal, six assists) in 31 games.
Hansson Stats: HV 71 (SHL) | 31 GP | 1 G | 6 A | 7 PTS | -6 | 8 PIM
*D Jakob Stenqvist (6th round/2016) had no points in two games for MODO in Sweden's second league over the past week. Stenqvist has three points (two goals, one assist) and a plus-two rating in 25 games in the second league and is averaging 15:45 of ice time
Stenqvist Stats: MODO (SWE-2) | 25 GP | 2 G |1 A | 3 PTS | +2 | 16 PIM
MODO (SWE-JR) | 12 GP | 1 G | 9 A | 10 PTS | -2 | 6 PIM
Ontario Hockey League
* RW Nick Caamano (5th round/2016) registered three points (two goals, one assist) in Flint's 7-2 win over Guelph on Saturday. Caamano, who has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past three games, is tied for second on the Firebirds in scoring with 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games.
Caamano Stats: Flint (OHL): 39 GP | 18 G |21 A | 39 PTS | -6 | 45 PIM
*D Chris Martenet (4th round/2015) picked up two assists in London's 5-4 win over Sudbury on Friday. Martenet, who is a plus-seven in his past seven games, has six points (one goal, five assists) and a plus-ten rating in 27 games this season.
Martenet Stats: London (OHL) | 27 GP | 1 G |5 A | 6 PTS | +10 | 32 PIM
Western Hockey League
*D Ondrej Vala (free agent/2016) has returned to Kamloops after playing for Czech Republic at the World Juniors in Canada, where he had no points and averaged 15:46 of ice time in five games. Vala played two games over the past week in the WHL, registering no points. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) and a plus-ten rating in 34 games for the Blazers.
Vala Stats: Kamloops (WHL) | 34 GP | 6 G | 7 A | 13 PTS | +10 | 48 PIM
*C Riley Tufte (1st round/2016) picked up the first point of his college career, registering an assist in Minnesota Duluth's 2-2 tie with Colorado College on Friday. Tufte, a freshman, has one assist and a plus-two rating in 16 games.
Tufte Stats: Minnesota Duluth (NCAA) | 16 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 PTS | +2 | 6 PIM
*C/LW Rhett Gardner (4th round/2016) recorded one assist in two games for North Dakota over the weekend. Gardner, a sophomore, has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 19 games.
Gardner Stats: North Dakota (NCAA) | 19 GP | 4 G | 7 A | 11 PTS | +2 | 45 PIM
*D Michael Prapavessis (4th round/2014) picked up one assist in two games for RPI over the past week. Prapavessis, a junior, has eight points (two goals, six assists) in 22 games.
Prapavessis Stats: RPI (NCAA) | 22 GP | 2 G | 6 A | 8 PTS | -20 | 18 PIM
*G Colton Point (5th round/2016) did not play this past week for Colgate. His last game came on New Year's Eve when he stopped 17 of 20 shots in a 4-1 loss to Army. Point, a freshman, is 1-2-1 this season with a 2.99 goals-against average.
Point Stats: Colgate (NCAA) | 1-2-1 | 2.99 GAA | .886 SV%
This story was not subject to 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.