In the old days free agency was the way the Stars put winners on the ice, but as the years wear on it's becoming quite clear that these days the young prospects in the system are the lifeblood of this franchise. That precious currency has been on display all week in McKinney and while the drills may be boring, the possibility of seeing any number of these guys in the NHL in the coming years is anything but.
Those unable to attend frequently ask "How does so and so look??" which is a hard question to answer based on a camp like this. The drills are largely uncompetitive and geared toward the skill of the individuals. How does Jamieson Oleksiak look? He looks great. So did Mike Dalhuisen actually, and chances are you haven't heard of that undrafted defenseman before.
Shining on the ice may not necessarily be the point. For those in the system already it's an annual reminder of what they're working toward, and who they're competing against, even if none of them will admit it while they jovially enjoy each others company. At the end of the rainbow there are only so many lockers at the AAC after all, and that's what these guys are all gunning for eventually.
In the mean time the importance of the trip is the relationship being fostered between the organization and the players; the workout habits being taken away, the time with the NHL level coaches, trips to the American Airlines Center, etc. It's a pat on the back, a kick in the butt, and a reminder of how much one stands to gain from hard work.
What I take away from a day out there is just how nice all of these guys are, how genuine and sincere. They're hard workers and good character guys. Every team wants that but for me it's becoming a hallmark of Joe Nieuwendyk's influence. That, and how tall everyone was. If I could write a subtitle for a book about this development camp it would be something along the lines of "gentle giants".
Here's some video of a rare moment where battles were encouraged and the competitive juices got flowing...
More discussion and more video after the jump...
Here are some random thoughts about this group of youngsters....
- Anyone who spent any time hanging around McKinney saw plenty of these guys. One the ice, in the parking lot, in the lobby, watching other groups practice, coming to and from workouts and practices...and I am willing to bet that to a man everyone would remark about what nice young men they are. Courteous and thoughtful. Unfortunately we live in a time where such behavior is easily singled out. Kudos to them for displaying it.
- Thoughtful though they may be, they're huge as a group. Someone remarked to me that Jamieson Oleksiak didn't look all that big. That's because he was playing with a bunch of other guys who were 6-3 and up. The Stars are going to be one of the biggest teams in the league if any number of these picks workout.
- The usual to say about this year's draft picks...big kids...lots of skill, potential, etc. Almost all of them need to fill out some more. Adding muscle/bulk will be a key for all moving forward. They're so young. They have time.
- Tomas Vincour was a hot topic there on Tuesday amongst the observers. Why is he there at all? At 20 years old he falls into the age group/experience that is typically represented there. That he had such a strong preseason and played as many games with the NHL club as he did doesn't change that, and his time in the AHL did not produce like one would have hoped. It is a message to Tomas? I don't know. Once the competitive drills did start, however, he was one that stuck out to me as a real man amongst what might have been boys. Having spent the time with Dallas last year that is to be expected, so it seems he's right where he should be, even if the UFA signings leave him no room for a roster spot.
- To his credit John Klingberg seems to grab your eye with whatever he is doing. Perhaps more so than Nemeth, though his size is more noticeable. Keep an eye on both.
- Scott Glennie watched the practices on Tuesday and Wednesday both with a sore knee. He always seems to be hurt when in Dallas. He's one that needs to take a step this coming year for sure. It was a shame we couldn't see him much this camp.
- I already liked Tyler Beskorowany, and after he came up and tried to interrupt an interview I was doing with Brenden Dillon, I like him even more. Seems like a pretty animated dude.
- Jack Campbell's Turco-like style can be a head scratcher at times but he made some dynamite saves all day long on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see what kind of season he has in juniors a full year removed from the hoopla of the draft and the newness of the CHL.
Here's a little more video of the defensemen working out...