With the new season underway and a training camp filled with young players and prospects from juniors and the AHL its an appropriate time to analyse the potential ceiling for the Dallas Stars prospects. It's also important to analyse what their likely ceiling actually is. It's important to remember that potential ceiling and likely ceiling are two very different things.
Potential ceiling is the top level that each prospect could reach if everything goes right in their development and they stay on track. For example Jack Campbell has the potential to be an elite starting goaltender in the NHL, his natural talents and skills put him in a place where he could reach that level.
Likely ceiling is where players are, based on their current level of performance, predicted to reach. Most prospects do not reach their potential ceiling but instead are several steps below it. This occurs when everything does not go according to plan, where they hit a rut or suffer a injury.
Previous Prospect Potential Grading Posts:
Note: These ceilings are based solely on my opinion.
Matej Stransky, Right Wing, 19, Saskatoon Blades WHL, 6"3 215lbs, Drafted Sixth Round, 165th Overall 2011
Potential Ceiling: Top Six Forward
LIkely Ceiling: Top Six Forward
Matej Stransky is another impressive Czech that the Dallas Stars have picked up in the drafting, which includes Tomas Vincour and Radek Faksa. He was a late round pick and flew under the radar but has one of the best potentials in the Stars prospect pool. He's in his third year in WHL and has made a big jump up from his draft year when he scored only 26 points. In the 2011-2012 he scored 81 points in 70 games and currently has 64 points through 55 games. He plays for the Saskatoon Blades who are hosting the Memorial Cup this season.
Matej Stransky is a big offensively skilled forward. He's described as a typically Czech player, and some see him as a Jaromir Jagr type of player. A forward with an above average vision, a excellent wrist shot and a good pass. His size is good to protect the puck along the boards and to keep defensemen away. His main weakness and one he need to improve upon if he wants to be a star, or potential superstar, is his skating. He need to get a little faster but he could still be a very effective forward without the improved skating.
Stransky will turn pro next season and join the Texas Stars becoming one of their top forwards in the process. He will likely need a year or two to season in the AHL before being ready to take up any long time assignment in the NHL. Its with good reason that some believe that he is going to be the next Jamie Benn, but I still believe if he wants to reach near that level his skating needs to improve. There is reason to get excited about Stransky but I would still empathise caution.
Branden Troock, Right Wing, 18, Seattle Thunderbirds WHL, 6"4 201lbs, Drafted Fifth Round, 134th Overall 2012
Potential Ceiling: Top Nine Forward
Likely Ceiling: Bottom Six Forward/Career AHLer
Branden Troock was another prospect drafted in 2012 that is very interesting and has some intriguing upside. He has had some rough patches and has missed significant time in the past three years due to injury. He missed the entirety of the 2010-2011 due to a soft tissue injury in his neck. He has been limited to 19 games this season because multiple injuries, though nothing to do with his previous major injury.
Troock has an intriguing mixture of size and skill. He has some good hands and is tricky for opposing defensemen to handle due to his size. He skates well for his size and he has good agility and balance. Branden Troock is still very raw, he needs to improve his shot and mature his game. One of his main weaknesses he has is that he tries to take on too many things by himself and can suffer from offensive tunnel vision. These issues can be solved with time.
Troock will probably spend the next two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds and hopefully will refine his game. If he does he could earn himself an entry level contract and be playing in the AHL or ECHL in two years time. With his injury past its not out of the range of possibility that he never reaches anywhere near his potential. If he does work through his injury past he could be a very interesting player to watch.
Scott Winkler, Centre, 22, Colorado College NCAA, 6"3 212lbs, Drafted Third Round, 89th Overall 2008
Potential Ceiling: Third LIne Grinder
Likely Ceiling: Bottom Six Grinder
Scott Winkler looks like he could be the second prospect from the 2008 draft to reach the NHL, the first being Philip Larsen. He has spent the last four years at Colorado College in the NCAA and it will be up to the Dallas Stars to decide whether he is worth an entry level contract when he finishes his time in the NCAA. He is the only Norwegian prospect the Stars currently have in the prospect system.
Winkler is a big forward who plays the style of game that is mostly suited for his body type. He is a good all around player but doesn't excel particularly in any particular area. Hes a hard working forward who can hold his own and works well in all areas of the ice. His work ethic will likely help improve the chances that the Dallas Stars decide he is worth a contract. He isn't going to be up a lot of points but could potentially fit in as an effective third line grinder, especially if he uses his size well.
If Scott Winkler is signed to a contract at the end of his time in college he will likely spend next season either with the Texas Stars or the Idaho Steelheads. If he develops as a responsible two way forward he could potentially see time in the NHL as a third or fourth line player. It would take a few years however before he was ready to spend any time in the NHL, even as an injury replacement. It depends upon his transition to the professional game.
Mike Winther, Centre, 18, Prince Albert Raiders WHL, 5"11 170lbs, Drafted Second Round, 54th Overall 2012
Potential Ceiling: Second Line Centre
Likely Ceiling: Second/Third Line Centre.
Mike Winther was drafted with the second of the Stars three Second round picks in 2012. He has spent the last three seasons playing with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. He's not typical of recent Stars draft picks as he is under 6"0 but he makes up for this with a physical hard nosed game.
Winther was one of the fastest skaters in the 2012 draft and has incredibly acceleration. He also has an excellent snipers shot and can very quickly got a strong shot away. He's got good offensive instincts and has spent most of his time with the Prince Albert Raiders on the left wing rather than at the centre. This season he has spent more time at the centre position which might explain the increase in his assist total as he starts to be more the playmaker than the sniper. He could probably do to bulk up to stand the rigours of the NHL.
Mike Winther has the potential to be a second line forward at the NHL level but needs to maintain and improve his point production and his consistency. It would be preferable, though not essential, for him to get a little bigger. I imagine that he will sign an entry level contract with the Dallas Stars this summer and will play in Austin at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season after he has done his four years in the WHL.