Lindell latest top prospect to join Texas Stars
Some top prospects of the Dallas Stars have been filtering into Cedar Park to join the Texas Stars in recent weeks. Or they have been joining the team on the road, as was the case with defenseman Esa Lindell last week.
The 20-year-old Lindell, a third-round pick in 2012, joined Texas following an impressive season in Finland’s top league. He tied for the league lead in defensemen scoring with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 57 games. Lindell, listed at 6-3, 210 pounds, also led the league in average ice time at 24:56 per game.
“He skates well for a big man. He’s a big heavy body. He makes a good first pass. He’s just a good, solid all-around player,” Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said. “He’s had a great season in Finland. He was one of the leading scoring defensemen. For a 20-year-old to play in the Finnish Elite League and be one of the top defensemen, you are doing something right.”
Lindell made his AHL debut in Chicago on Thursday and has played three games with Texas. He is expected to stay with Texas until the end of March and then head back to Europe, where he will take part in Finland’s camp for the World Championship.
Lindell, defenseman Ludwig Bystrom and center Devin Shore all are 2012 draft picks who have joined Texas recently. Bystrom had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League, and Shore had been with the University of Maine. More players could be on the way depending on how their seasons go and how long Texas plays. Nill said the players coming in late in the season get an excellent opportunity.
“It gives them a head start for next season. They are getting their feet wet,” Nill said. “They are playing in college or Europe and now they are playing in a different league. [For European players], it is North America. For some of these guys, it is a different size ice. The ice size is smaller, and the intensity might be different. For a college player, you are playing against men now. You are going from playing against kids who are 18, 19, 20 or 21 to 25-year-olds to 29-year-olds. The level is going up now. Where ever they are coming from, the level is getting better. It is the next step.”
Dallas has already seen a group of young players take steps forward at the NHL this season. Now, Nill said, another wave of youth is on its way.
“It’s exciting,” Nill said. “We’re reaping the rewards with the big team right now. We’re seeing [Curtis] McKenzie, [Brett] Ritchie, [Jyrki] Jokipakka, [Patrik] Nemeth and [John] Klingberg. That’s a push. Now we’re getting another push from the next group of guys. It is good for our depth.”
Tuesday March 17: Texas 3, Lake Erie 2 (SO)
Stars goaltender Jack Campbell took over for an injured Jussi Rynnas late in the first period and turned in a sparkling performance. Campbell stopped 35 of 36 shots in regulation and overtime and then turned away three of four in the shootout as Texas defeated Lake Erie 4-3 at Cedar Park Center. It was the fourth straight win for Texas and the second straight for Campbell, who was coming off a 36-save effort on Sunday.
“For the team’s sake it is awesome. We wanted to keep climbing,” Campbell said. “Personally, it feels nice. It is what I expect. It’s nice to get some results finally.”
Travis Morin scored the shootout winner for Texas. Branden Troock and Cameron Gaunce scored in regulation. Center Devin Shore, Dallas’ second-round pick (61st overall) in 2012, notched his first AHL point in the game, picking up an assist on Troock’s goal.
Rynnas left the game late in the first period with a lower-body injury after Lake Erie’s Sam Henley fell on him during a scramble in front of the net.
Thursday March 19: Texas 3, Chicago 0
Jack Campbell stopped 27 shots for his first shutout of the season as Texas opened a four-game road trip with a 3-0 win at Chicago. Scott Glennie, Derek Meech and Derek Hulak scored goals for Texas, which ran its winning streak to five games.
Saturday March 21: Texas 4, Milwaukee 3
The Stars made it six straight wins with a 4-3 victory at Milwaukee on Saturday. Jack Campbell stopped 38 of 41 shots, and Devin Shore scored his first professional goal for Texas. Greg Rallo, Maxime Fortunus and Scott Glennie also scored.
Sunday March 22: Rockford 4, Texas 3
The Stars’ six-game winning streak came to an end with a 4-3 loss at Rockford on Sunday. Texas grabbed a 2-0 lead 8:11 into the game on goals by Greg Rallo and Julius Honka, but Rockford scored three goals over the final half of the first and another one in the second to build a 4-2 lead. Branden Troock scored early in the third to make it a 4-3 game but Texas could not get the equalizer. Jack Campbell stopped 33 of 37 shots.
The week ahead
Tuesday March 24, Texas at Iowa, 7 p.m.
Friday March 27, Grand Rapids at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday March 28, Grand Rapids at Texas, 7:00 p.m.
Notes: Dallas training camp coming to Cedar Park
*The Dallas Stars will hold training camp at Cedar Park Center in September 2015. Details will be released at a later date.
*Goaltender Jack Campbell is 4-1-0 in March with a 2.09 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.
*Forward Scott Glennie has scored eight goals in his past 12 games.
*Julius Honka, Dallas’ first round pick in 2014, ranks seventh among rookie defensemen in scoring with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 56 games.
Here is where Texas ranks in some key statistical categories.
Goals for: 3.05 (5th)
Goals against: 2.88 (18th)
Shots for: 31.2 (10th)
Shots against: 31.2 (25th)
Power play: 20.0 (3rd)
Penalty kill: 86.0 (6th)
Here is the Texas lineup from the last game.
Derek Hulak – Travis Morin – Greg Rallo
Brendan Ranford – Justin Dowling – Scott Glennie
Kevin Henderson – Devin Shore – Branden Troock
Scott Valentine – Gemel Smith – Matej Stransky
Maxime Fortunus – Jamie Oleksiak
Derek Meech – Julius Honka
Esa Lindell – Cameron Gaunce
3/19: D Esa Lindell assigned to Texas (AHL) from Assat (Finnish Elite League)
3/18: G Henri Kiviaho assigned to Texas (AHL) from Idaho (ECHL)
3/17: D William Wrenn assigned to Idaho (ECHL) from Texas (AHL)
3/16: C Eric Faille released from PTO
The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, went 2-0-0 last week to improve to 43-17-5 on the season. Idaho ranks first in the Pacific Division and third overall in the league. The Steelheads are 14-1-1 in their past 16 games.
Click here for Texas Stars statistics
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.