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Felhaber sees Stars' preseason as opportunity to shine

The touted forward prospect understands he has a real chance to make the NHL club this season

by Jeff Odom @jeffodom /

FRISCO, Texas -- When Tye Felhaber steps onto the ice for the first time in a Stars uniform this preseason, it won't be just another game to the promising forward prospect.

The butterflies within will likely be swirling and the adrenaline rushing as he takes his time to soak in the atmosphere around the rink. In a word, Felhaber explains, the moment will simply be "surreal."

"People say it's kind of just preseason," he said Sunday. "But if you were to tell me whenever I was a 6-year-old kid that I'd be suiting up for the Dallas Stars, even if it's a preseason game, I'd be more than ecstatic."


[READ MORE: Plano native Noesen excited for chance to make hometown Stars' roster]


A journey in itself just reaching this point in his professional career, Felhaber isn't just happy to be here. He understands there's a real chance to learn from his veteran teammates and compete for a spot in the Stars' opening night lineup.

"If I get that opportunity, I'm definitely going to make the most of it," said Felhaber, who evolved from an undrafted winger in 2016 to become one of the OHL's leading scorers three years later with 59 goals and 109 points in 68 games last season alone for the Ottawa 67's.

For starters, the past three days at his first Stars training camp were a crash course into what life is like at hockey's highest level. Though Felhaber spent time getting acclimated to the organization at development camp in June and while playing for the Stars at the Traverse City prospect tournament earlier this month, it's not easy to replicate the shift in pace and intensity that NHL camp provides.

Grouped with mostly up-and-coming prospects like Ty Dellandrea, Riley Tufte and Jason Robertson, Felhaber said the lessons have come swiftly. Admittedly a little shy in seeking out experienced players around the dressing room to answer questions, he has instead watched Blake Comeau, Radek Faksa and Andrew Cogliano to better understand their routes and habits.

Video: Comeau is ready to get the season started

"I think that everything's done at a high speed and with a lot of intensity," Felhaber said. "You can't take one shift off in a drill or anything like that. It's just cool getting used to the speed and learning a lot from those guys. I feel like my camp has just gotten better and better every day gone by, and I'm learning a lot."

His confidence has shown through, too.

On Sunday, Felhaber took a long pass during one of the early morning drills and glided up the ice. All alone to the left of Colton Point, the 5-foot-11 Felhaber rifled a shot past the goaltender's shoulder, off the cross bar and into the net.

Skating past the home bench after his goal, Felhaber turned and flashed a smile toward Stars coach Jim Montgomery, who returned the favor. 

"Smart hockey player," Montgomery said afterward.

Maybe just the player Dallas is looking for.

"Once you get that confidence, then the love of the game takes over," Felhaber said. "It's just getting that comfortability, and once you get that, you're having more fun -- and whenever I'm having fun, I'm playing a lot better.

"This main camp, I've definitely opened up a little bit more and just kind of found my game. Whenever you're having success here in practice, it's definitely a confidence booster."

Montgomery points to Felhaber as just one example of the Stars' quality depth entering this season and recent success in developing players within the organization.

"I think that (general manager) Jim Nill, (assistant GMs) Scott White, Mark Janko and all of our pro scouts, and our amatuer scouts (deserve credit)," Montgomery said. "From one year to the next, the amount of hockey sense and people that can make plays at both ends of the ice, we're an improved organization from what we've seen these first three days."

The next step for Felhaber is translating his success in juniors to the Stars. Though he's continuing to work on improving his defensive habits and playing a more responsible game overall, he's not about to change what got him here.

Who knows, maybe his time wearing the No. 43 sweater won't be reserved for just Dallas' seven-game preseason slate. Maybe the next "surreal" moment will be hearing his name and hometown of Pembroke, Ontario announced to a capacity crowd on Oct. 3 against the Boston Bruins.

"You're not going to come to main camp and be somebody you're not," Felhaber said. "You're going to be the player that they chose, and they believed in me to come here and play.

"I'm just gonna try and be that player."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Jeff Odom covers the Stars for Follow him on Twitter @jeffodom.

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