Dallas Stars training camp opens in a week-and-a-half, but for the team's management and several prospects the season kicks off this weekend with the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.
"It's the start of the season. It's been a long summer, especially this year with everything pushed back [because of the World Cup]," said Stars assistant GM Scott White.
The Stars, Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, Carolina, Minnesota, New York Rangers, and St. Louis will send prospect teams to the tournament, which is hosted by the Red Wings and runs Friday through Tuesday.
"There are a lot of good players, and the hockey is pretty high level for this time of year," said Stars forward prospect Devin Shore. "It's a great preparation for camp. Guys are going hard; everyone wants to prove something."
Shore is one of eleven Dallas prospects on the Stars' 23-man roster, which includes 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and three goaltenders. Among the other Dallas prospects at the tournament will be forward Denis Gurianov (first round/2015), forward Remi Elie (second round/2013), defenseman Niklas Hansson (third round/2013), defenseman Chris Martenet (fourth round/2015) and goaltender Philippe Desrosiers (second round/2013).
It's an opportunity for Stars management and scouts to see how their young players stack up against prospects from other teams in a high-quality tournament.
"We get to look at our young players in a competitive environment against their own age," White said. "I like to see how they react to the environment, the kind of decisions they make, the smarts. It's all related to pace, and that's what I like to see. Their compete. We've always had good, competitive groups and I expect the same this season."
And Dallas management is watching and taking notes. Forward Mattias Janmark made an impression at last year's tournament and put himself on the radar heading into training camp, where he secured himself a roster spot with the Stars.
"He was a dominant player [in Traverse City]," said Stars GM Jim Nill. "That's a good tournament. If you're a dominant player there, you are doing something good."
The Stars' roster at this year's tournament will have a different look. More than half of the Dallas roster is made up of free agent invitees. That's because of the current makeup of the Stars prospect pool. Several Dallas prospects are in college and unavailable, and others are in Europe competing for roster spots or playing time, and the Stars don't want to hurt their chances by bringing them to North America for a week.
Of the Stars' six selections in the 2016 draft, three are in college (F Riley Tufte, F Rhett Gardner, G Colton Point) and two are in Europe (F Fredrik Karlstrom, D Jakob Stenqvist). So, the only 2016 Dallas draft pick who will play in Traverse City is forward Nick Caamano from the Ontario Hockey League.
"It's just the cycle of how it is," White said. "There's been a lot of work by our scouts to get our list together of free agent invites. It's a great opportunity for them. We know they'll compete, and it's up to them to show us what they can do. It will be a different look, but our coaches will get them ready and get our players together."
Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal, Texas assistant Karl Taylor and Idaho Steelheads head coach Neil Graham will coach the Dallas prospects. The team's first game is Friday vs. Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. Central Time.
Shore ready to go
Forward Devin Shore said he is 100 percent and ready to go for the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City. Shore missed the second half of last season after suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery.
When Shore plays at the prospect tournament this weekend, it will be his first game in nine months. He's looking forward to getting some competitive games in before NHL training camp.
"I think it is really important," Shore said. "It's good to get some confidence back and get used to the bounces of the game and the flow, the little intangibles you can't practice. It will be good to get to back into it, and get the competition level high before camp."
Last season was Shore's first full one as a pro. He got off to a great start before getting injured, registering 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 23 games with Texas of the AHL. He also made his NHL debut, playing three games with Dallas.
Traverse City roster/schedule
Here is the Dallas roster for the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City.
Forwards: Nick Caamano, Denis Gurianov, Devin Shore, Ethan Szypula, Jordan Topping, Cole Ully, Connor Chatham, Remi Elie, Austin Glover, Samuel Laberge, Michael McMurtry, Grayson Pawlenchuk, Cordell James
Defensemen: Miro Karjalainen, Chirs Martenet, Niklas Hansson, Ludwig Bystrom, Brandon Anselmini, Gordon Ballhorn, Ondrej Vala
Goaltenders: Landon Bow, Philippe Desrosiers, Henri Kivaho
The Stars will play four games at the tournament. The opponent for the fourth game will be determined by their position in the standings after the first three games. Here's the Dallas schedule.
Fri, Sept. 16: vs. Minnesota, 2:30 p.m. (CT)
Sat, Sept. 17: vs. NY Rangers, 2:30 p.m. (CT)
Mon, Sept. 19: vs. Carolina, 5:30 p.m. (CT)
Tue, Sept. 20: TBD
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.