The next chapter in Scott Winkler's career is about to enfold.
After getting drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 3rd round, the Norwegian-born forward opted to go the NCAA route, signing on with Colorado College of the WCHA. Ever since then, he's flown well under the radar of most Dallas Stars fans and didn't really seem to fit in with the major plans of the franchise moving forward.
That may have all changed in his last two years of Collegiate hockey. After starting his career slowly with 11 points in 47 games over the course of his Freshman and Sophomore seasons, Winkler has scored 24 and 28 points in the last two seasons and solidified himself as an important part of the team.
It has yet to be seen whether the Stars offer him an Entry-Level contract to see if he can continue to develop for the next few years. Personally, I don't see why they wouldn't at least give him a shot. Development can sometimes trump raw statistics when looking at a player, and while his numbers even in the last two years haven't set the world on fire, something can be said for his improvement, something very good.
Winkler is a hard working guy. He's not huge; 6'3 and 200 lbs isn't going to intimidate anybody the pro leagues; but he plays hard and he grinds. On top of that, he's a right shot, which the Stars have needed for a while yet.
Should they give him an ELC, he would probably start with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL given the depth on the Texas Stars. On top of the current roster, Dallas' AHL affiliate is going to be getting some great reinforcements this coming off-season, most importantly in the forms of Brett Ritchie and Matej Stransky. So, playing in the ECHL would give Winkler the opportunity to continue to hone his skills and gets ome pro experience. At the same time, it could give the Stars' organization of his pro potential and be a good bridge to either a new contract which would keep him in the AHL or the decision to let him free to pursue other endeavors.
Either way, this conundrum is a good one for the Stars. Another right hand shot could always be good for them, and if Winkler can continue to improve in the scoring department he could end up being a huge steal.
It's not often that a player more than doubles his point totals from one season to the next, so there's something to be said about Winkler's tenacity and ability to learn a lot pretty fast; both wonderful assets to have for a potential future pro player.
At the end of the day, Scott Winkler is another possible weapon for the Stars to add to their arsenal and it wouldn't hurt to continue devveloping depth and with it competition. It's one of those low risk, high reward situations which will be very interesting to watch pan out. Remember, no prospect is a sure thing, so there is a possibility he ends up being a better pro player than other top prospects in the Stars organization, but at the same time there's also a reason he wasn't drafted earlier and hasn't been touted by the Stars much at all. Only time will tell.