Dallas Stars prospects finished strong in Traverse City, routing the Minnesota Wild, 7-2, Tuesday afternoon to take fifth place at the NHL Prospect Tournament.
“It was a tough game to play,” said Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal, who coached the Dallas prospects. “Our kids put a lot of emotion into the game last night against Detroit (a 5-4 loss). We deserved a better fate against Detroit. We were clearly the better team. That happens and for these kids to come back and respond the way they did says a lot about the group and the prospects coming through. They did a great job of representing the Dallas Stars at the tournament.”
Emil Molin registered three points (two goals, one assist) for the Stars. Julius Honka, Mattias Janmark, Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson each had one goal and one assist. Mads Eller scored a goal, and Gemel Smith and Chase Witala both chipped in two assists. Brent Moran got the start in goal and stopped 21 of 23 shots.
The Stars dominated the game from the start and built a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Molin and Janmark. Faksa knocked home a rebound early in the second and then Honka scored off a blast with the Stars on a five-on-three power play later in the period to make it a 4-0 game. Minnesota’s Pavel Jenys scored on the power play early in the third, but the Stars rattled off three straight goals to put the game well out of reach. Eller scored at even-strength and Dickinson and Molin scored on the power play to push the lead to 7-1. The Wild’s Zach Mitchell scored a late power play goal to round out the scoring.
“We wanted to finish [the tournament] hard,” said Faksa, who served as team captain in three of the four games. “Every guy on the team worked very hard. We really gave them nothing.”
The Stars finished the tournament with a 2-1-1 record.
*Forward Mattias Janmark had an impressive showing at Traverse City, leading the Stars in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists) in four games. Janmark, acquired from Detroit last season in the Erik Cole deal, ranked second in scoring with Frolunda of Sweden’s top league last season, registering 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 51 games. Janmark will attend training camp in Cedar Park.
“Very smart player,” said Stars scout Rickard Oquist, who is based in Sweden. “Two-way, plays a 200-foot game. Skilled, elusive down low. He knows where the puck is going. He has really good offensive instincts and can really find plays.”
*Swedish defenseman Ludwig Bystrom opened some eyes at the tournament as well. Bystrom, who had been playing in Sweden, joined the Texas Stars late last season. The Stars’ second-round pick in 2012 will make the jump to North America full time this season.
“Bystrom has taken a huge step from last year,” said Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal. “He’s patient and calm. I thought he did a great job even on hard forechecking, he went back and made the right play. Under pressure on the blue line, under pressure coming up he was really calm and got pucks deep. He got hit, had a little bit of a charley horse, came back and showed that intangible of toughness. He took some good steps, and this is going to help springboard him into main camp.”
“Finnish defenseman Esa Lindell had a solid showing at the tournament. The third-round pick from 2012 was the top defenseman in Finland’s top league last season and had a strong performance for Finland at the 2015 World Championship. He makes the jump to North American this season.
“I liked him. He can play in every situation. When the game got chippy, he got physical,” Laxdal said. “When you are looking for a little bit of skill, he showed skill on the blue line, and he defended well. What does that say about him? That says he is a pretty well-rounded defenseman. He just needs a little bit of experience, a little bit of time. He’s obviously taken some steps. He had some great reports last year. He’s a great asset to have.”
*The Traverse City tournament was the first time center Radek Faksa had seen game action since the beginning of the calendar year. Faksa went out of the Texas Stars lineup in early January with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The shoulder is fine now, but Faksa showed some rust early in the tournament but seemed to get better the more he played.
“I think I am 100 percent, and my game is getting there,” Faksa said. “It’s always different when you are just practicing for nine months and not playing games. It’s hard to get back and every game I feel better now. I am looking forward to the new season and getting more games.”
*The Stars drafted Devin Shore in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft, but this was his first chance to play for the club in Traverse City. He had not played in the past due to being in college at the University of Maine. Shore, who turns pro this season, will also get a chance to attend his first NHL training camp later this week when the Stars hit the ice at Cedar Park Center.
“It’s what you dream of,” Shore said. “You dream of getting drafted, playing your professional game and signing your first contract. To go to your first NHL training camp with Benns, Seguins and Spezza – the guys you grew up watching – it is just another dream come true. I am looking forward to it. It is going to be a lot of fun. You just want to go hard and continue to make a name for yourself.”
Stars lineup vs. Minnesota
Jason Dickinson – Mattias Janmark – Brett Pollock
Remi Elie – Devin Shore – Cole Ully
Gemel Smith – Radek Faksa – Emil Molin
Chase Witala – Brandon Magee – Mads Eller
Esa Lindell – Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom – Stephen Johns
Patrick Sanvido – Chris Martenet
Scratched: Aaron Haydon, Alex Peters, Branden Troock
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.