Welcome to the September 2022 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top-20 prospects.
It was the hope that at this point in the offseason the Dallas Stars would have signed both of their young RFA superstars. The organization that was built around Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg is now being built around a new young core.
While Jim Nill was able to take care of Jake Oettinger, with an impressive three-year, $12-million contract, Jason Robertson remains as an RFA. With big contracts being handed out recently to players that have proved less than Robertson (7x$7.14M for Tage Thompson, and 8x$8.35M for Tim Stutzle), the cap-strapped Stars appear less and less likely to lock up the 40-goal scorer long term.
While Dallas’ early picks from the 2017 draft (Heiskenan, Oettinger and Robertson) have all effectively graduated from the prospect level, none of the three have reached their full potential. Along with budding young center Roope Hintz, the future in Dallas seems bright.
Dallas’ bottom-six saw lots of faces this past season. The team is very front-heavy, giving opportunities for players like Marian Studenic and Jacob Peterson to secure roster spots. We saw Joel Kiviranta’s defensive ability grow, and Riley Tufte get his first taste of NHL play. However, with a new crop of exciting young prospects seemingly ready to jump to the NHL, these roster spots can’t be taken for granted.
While the Stars leaned towards high-upside forwards in 2021, selecting OHL MVP Wyatt Johnston 23rd, and WHL MVP Logan Stankoven 47th, in 2022 they stocked their weak defensive pool. Adding Lian Bichsel, Christian Kyrou and George Fegaras to a crop formerly led by Thomas Harley and Jack Bar is a big upgrade.
In the NHL, Roope Hintz established himself as the team’s first line center – above Tyler Seguin. His line, completed by Robertson and veteran phenom Joe Pavelski was among the most dangerous in the league. Hintz finished with 37 goals and 35 assists for 72 points in 80 games. Robertson’s 41 goals and 38 assists in 74 games were good for him to lead his team in goals and come second in points.
Barely squeaking into a playoff spot, Jake Oettinger threw the team on his back for a hard-fought seven-game series against Calgary. This performance earned him his big contract, and equally makes him the first player to leave prospect-hood.
Dallas has several players poised to make a league jump this year. With Dallas as incredibly cap-strapped as it is, it makes sense that they would take advantage of their NHL-ready players on ELCs.
After a very successful season in the OHL with London this past season, Stranges, who played nine games in the AHL in the COVID-cancelled 2020-21 season, is bound to play the full season in the AHL and even possibly some NHL games. Stranges’ elite skating puts him above most other prospects in Dallas’ system, and he will be given every opportunity to succeed in an up-and-coming Dallas team.
While he may not necessarily be rising levels, Ertel will be leaving the NCAA this season to join the North Bay Battalion of the OHL. The NCAA wasn’t a great fit for the playmaker, and he will have the opportunity to join a playoff-bound Battalion team.
The 13th overall pick in 2018, Dellandrea was fantastic with the Texas Stars this past season. If there is one player absolutely deserving of a roster spot, it is Dellandrea. While the roster spots may be scarce, Dallas will likely give priority to their former top pick.
On a Dallas team without John Klingberg, Harley is the obvious choice to make his jump to the NHL.
Leaving the CHL, the 20-year-old Bourque could very feasibly play in the NHL this season. The dynamic two-way forward clearly has NHL skill and is the most ready of Dallas’ top-three prospects (himself, Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven). The organization could opt to develop him in the AHL this season, however.
Although he is eligible for one more OHL season, the recent MVP winner has done all he can at that level. The explosive offensive force in Johnston is incredibly responsible defensively and would make a prime 3rd line center for the Stars.
Of the three main prospects, the WHL MVP is the most likely to remain in juniors this year. However, if he has a good training camp, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in victory green on opening night. Stankoven’s U20 tournament was nothing short of phenomenal, and he has proven himself to be an elite prospect in this league.
Kiviranta is far from a flashy player. His seven points in 56 games were not mind-boggling, and his overall impact on the team was negligible. However, playing 56 games must be a factor. Kiviranta is an NHL player and will continue to be an NHL player in the future. His identity as a defensive forward is growing, and he was effective in hitting this past season – as a fourth liner should be. His offense has significant room to improve, and he is a far cry from the Kivranta we saw in Liiga in 2018-19, however, his time in North America has been far from ordinary. Coming over full time for the 2019-20 season, Kiviranta has played almost all of his time here in North America under COVID rule. If he holds on to a roster spot, the 26-year-old is not a lost cause.
Somewhat of a shock, Peterson’s first season in North America was spent almost fully in the NHL. Playing 65 games, the 23-year-old was a mainstay on Dallas’ bottom-six. Another successful pick from Dallas’ incredible 2017 draft, Peterson is now the fourth of seven prospects drafted that year to make the NHL. His defensive abilities shined in Rick Bowness’ system and will hopefully continue to improve with Pete DeBoer. He is equally poised to earn some higher quality linemates – like Denis Guarino or Mason Marchment this upcoming season.
Even though Harley is poised to make the NHL full-time this season, his status as a prospect has fallen. It is hard to see Harley, who struggled this year in the AHL, be anything more than a second-pairing defender, which is not ideal for a 18th overall pick. His defensive game has flaws, and he sometimes gets lost in his zone. Offensively, Harley is gifted, with a strong shot and decent passing ability, however, he is no longer in the crop of elite prospects in Dallas.
Dallas’ 25th overall pick in 2016, Tufte, now 24, has fallen off quite a bit. After two effective seasons in Texas, it appeared that Tufte was NHL ready. The defensive forward is not one to inspire with his point totals, however, his overall impact is important. Playing 10 NHL games this past season, Tufte seemed a little out of place against the stronger competition. He did however have another strong season in the AHL, with 20 points in 54 games. While it once again appears that Tufte should be NHL ready, the 24-year-old does not have much more time to waste if he wants to make the big leagues. At 6-6, there is a market for players like Tufte, however, with the new crop of players coming in, it may not be in Dallas.
Organizational Depth Chart
*organized by NHL-readiness, organizational standing, and fantasy upside*
Top-20 Fantasy Prospects
This section is intended to paint a picture of the Detroit Red Wings prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration. However, a player’s potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list.
- Wyatt Johnston
- Logan Stank oven
- Mavrik Bourque
- Lian Bichsel
- Antonio Stranges
- Thomas Harley
- Christian Kyrou
- Jacob Peterson
- Ty Dellandrea
- Francesco Arcuri
- Jack Bar
- Ben Gleason
- Riley Damiani
- Riley Tufte
- Matthew Seminoff
- Adam Scheel
- Joel Kiviranta
- Joel L’Esperance
- Ayrton Martino
- Marian Studenic
Aaron Itovitch – @itovitch