A Review of the Dallas Stars' OHL Prospects

Nick Laham

Analysing the performance of the Dallas Stars prospects in the Ontario Hockey League.

The Dallas Stars had four players playing in the OHL this season. Those are Radek Faksa (1st round, 2012), Brett Ritchie (2nd round, 2011), Gemel Smith (4th round, 2012) and newly acquired at the deadline Cody Payne (Boston, 5th round, 2012).

It was hoped, especially after being labelled as nearly NHL ready before the draft, that Radek Faksa would take a big step forward this season with the Kitchener Rangers. Unfortunately the season did not progress as was hoped for Radek Faksa. Though he didn't regress the season was nevertheless a standstill season for Faksa. He was limited to 39 games this season due to a various factors including playing in the World Junior Championship and also suffering an injury to his MCL.

The Kitchener Rangers are a defense first team and while Faksa has performed well defensively his offensive production is lower than many would like. He finished with 31 points in those 39 games, though only 9 goals. Even in the WJC Radek Faksa was used in a predominantly defensive role, though that was partly due to the fact he wasn't contributing offensively. He had 6 points in 10 games in the OHL post season.

Radek Faksa was assigned to the Texas Stars of the AHL following the Rangers being knocked out of the OHL playoffs. He isn't eligible to play in the AHL next season as he won't be 20 or have played four OHL seasons. Whether he plays or not is questionable but practicing with the Texas Stars would help his learn the Stars system and help his development by playing against and with some of the excellent players that are in Cedar Park.

Brett Ritchie has had an excellent season with top performances in the regular season for the Niagara IceDogs but his post season was cut short as the IceDogs were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Brett Ritchie has become one of the Stars top prospects with a 76 point season through 53 games. This is pretty impressive and the IceDogs top line were one of the best in the OHL. Whether Ritchie's success is partly down to having a line centred by New York Islanders prospect Ryan Strome is unknown.

He also played a big part of Canada's WJC team, though he wasn't as successful as was hoped. He had four points in six games in what was a stacked Canadien side. Ritchie has impressed many and has been getting attention from many teams in the league after his performance this season. If he continues on his current development trajectory Ritchie will be in a Dallas Stars jersey within the next couple of season.

He was assigned to the Texas Stars following the IceDogs exit of the playoffs and has had an impressive debut. He has had four points in his first five games in the AHL. That is three goals and an assist. While this is an impressive start to his professional career it is probably wise to tap the brakes on expectations until he has had an extended stint in the AHL.

Gemel Smith entered the season with some believing that he could become one of the scoring leaders in the OHL this season. While he hasn't managed to achieve this, he had 52 points in 61 games, he has had a strong season with the Owen Sound Attack. He continues to develop an agitator reputation in the OHL but is also a strong forechecker.

Smith will have probably earned himself an entry level contract this summer from the Dallas Stars. He will still however have to play another season in the OHL before becoming eligible for the AHL.

Cody Payne was acquired in the deal that sent Jaromir Jagr to Boston. He's taken a step forward this season increasing his point production from 16 points last season to 45 points this season. I haven't been able to follow him closely this season but to see this step up is a good sign. I'm unsure whether the Stars will offer him an entry level contract this season or whether they will wait another season before they decide.

Payne will need at least another season in the OHL before he is eligible to play in the AHL. Payne and the Plymouth Whalers reached the finals of the Western Conference before being eliminated and he had two points through 15 games.

Overall its been a mixed season from the Stars prospect in the OHL. Brett Ritchie has impressed a lot and done well and both Smith and Payne have just about hit expectations for their seasons. Only Radek Faksa has failed to meet expectations, though he is still playing at a relatively high level. With another season in the OHL its hoped that Faksa will take the step forward that many hoped he would take this season.

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