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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.

Here's a look at how the Dallas prospects fared at the World Junior Summer Showcase.

Fredrik Karlstrom, center (3rd round/2016): Karlstrom had a strong showing in Plymouth, leading Sweden in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists) in five games. He skated well, showed a knack for coming up with pucks and making plays. He played all three forward positions, was a regular on the power play and displayed a strong two-way game.

"He is kind of interesting. I was talking to Tomas Monten, the Swedish coach, and he had some high praise for [Karlstrom]," said Corey Pronman, who covers NHL prospects for ESPN. "He isn't dynamic, but there is definitely some offensive ability there. He's a good playmaker, good hands, decent speed, thinks the game well."

Karlstrom played for Sweden at the 2017 World Junior Championship, starting off as the extra forward and then working his way up the lineup as the tournament moved along. He picked up three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games. He should get a bigger role right off the start at the 2018 World Juniors.

"He can play the game on both ends of the rink, but he is more of an offensive guy. I suspect he is going to be on a scoring line for Sweden at the real tournament," Pronman said.

Karlstrom is expected to play in the Swedish Hockey League this season.

Jake Oettinger, goaltender (1st round/2017): Oettinger played in three games for the USA including two full ones. He posted a 2.38 goals against average and .920 save percentage, stopping 69 of 75 shots in just under 151 minutes of playing time. Oettinger was quietly solid in his three appearances, showing his highly touted composure in net. He wasn't tested a lot in two of the appearances but stopped 37 of 40 shots in a win over Finland.

"Oettinger is a big guy, economical, very smart. There's lateral agility, not amazing but good for his size. There's a reason why he was a first round pick. There's a lot going there for him," Pronman said. "He didn't look outstanding here, but again it is two-and-a-half games for a goalie. I wouldn't read much into it. He is still trending as a top prospect."

Oettinger was the third goalie for the USA at the 2017 World Junior Championship, and he seems poised to take on a bigger role at the 2018 tournament.

"I suspect he is going to be in the conversation for the starting goalie job between him and Joseph Woll [Toronto 3rd round pick in 2016]," Pronman said. "I think both of them are pretty close right now. They'll probably see how they do the first half of the season and even into the December camp and the start of the tournament."

Oettinger will be a sophomore at Boston University this season.

Riley Tufte, left wing (1st round/2016): Tufte recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in six games for the USA. He played both left and right wing and saw some power play time. He was a net front guy, battled for pucks along the boards and created a few good chances.

"He was a little bit mixed. Sometimes he did well and sometimes he faded into the background a little bit," Pronman said. "He was better than last year. He's been trending in a positive direction the last year, year-and-a-half. I think you saw that he skates well for a big guy, he's strong on the puck, wins some battles. His skill level didn't look dynamic to me, didn't break through creating scoring chances, but he was useful at times in terms of a scoring role."

Tufte got a look at the USA's World Juniors evaluation camp a year ago but broke his wrist in one of the games. That led to him missing some time and getting off to a slow start in his freshman season at Minnesota Duluth. As a result, he wasn't in the mix for the 2017 World Juniors. He's a strong candidate for the 2018 USA team.

"I think he is going to need to have a good second season at Duluth to put himself in the conversation to play an important role on the team," Pronman said. "I think if you ask around, people say he is going to make it but I don't think he is going to be in their top six."

Tufte will be a sophomore at Minnesota Duluth this season.

Jason Robertson, right wing (2nd round/2017): Robertson played in three games and scored one goal and had nine shots on goal for the USA. He was quiet in his first game but looked better in the next two, showing some good offensive instincts and a good shot. Robertson was among a group of players cut from the USA roster five days into the camp.

"I think you saw that there is potential there. He has really good hands for a big guy, a really good shot. He's a guy who generates things," said Pronman. "He's just going to need time. His skating isn't very good, and once that area comes along, he has the potential to become a real prospect."

Robertson is a long shot to make the USA World Juniors roster. He was one of the younger players on the roster at last week's camp, and the USA has a deep, talented group of forwards.

"He's really not a defensive guy, he's a scorer. There are just so many talented forwards on this team it just came down to a matter of numbers and him being a [younger player]," said Pronman. "That's why you saw Oliver Wahlstrom (2018 draft eligible), Grant Mismash (Nashville 2017 2nd round pick) get cut. All of them are good players, including Robertson. He just wasn't ready for this year's team."

Robertson is expected to play in juniors with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League this season.

Dallas defense prospect Miro Heiskanen (first round/2017) did not take part in the World Junior Summer Showcase for Finland. He is considered to be a lock for Finland's World Junior team.

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.

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