As this disastrous NHL lockout continuesThe 23 year-old Texas Stars winger is leading the way in the race for NHL promotion, one of the few things that is making the absence of Dallas Stars hockey bearable is the observation of the progress of the team's prospects.
The Texas Stars, as Dallas' American Hockey League affiliate, act as the organization's primary testing grounds, as prospects and minor league veterans alike not only battle for victory as a team against their AHL opponents, but also individually to showcase their readiness for full-time NHL duty.
Over the years many of Dallas top prospects have fought their way up through the AHL, and this year is no exception, with a handful of the team's more promising youngsters developing and plying their trade right now in Texas.
Cody Eakin and Tomas Vincour, who have already played a fair number of games at the NHL level, are pretty much locks to get called up once the lockout finally ends.
While some of the organization's other more high-profile prospects, such as Scott Glennie, Alex Chiasson and Reilly Smith, are still adapting to the everyday challenges of professional-level hockey, one of Dallas' lesser-known draft picks is making a strong case that he is ready for time in The Show thanks to clutch performances and a consistently strong two-way game: that player is Colton Sceviour.
Sceviour, drafted in the 4th round, 122nd overall in 2007, doesn't have the high draft selection profile of 2009 8th overall pick Glennie, the enviable 6'3" frame of Chiasson, or the prolific NCAA goal totals of a player like Smith, but what he lacks in single notable attributes he makes up for in a strong all-around game.
Offensively, with 12 points in 14 games so far this season, Sceviour ranks second on the Texas Stars, behind only Eakin's 14 points in 21 games. With totals of 31 points in 2009-2010, 41 points in 2010-2011 and 53 points in 2011-2012, Sceviour's scoring abilities have been consistently improving over time, a trend is always a positive in the eyes of coaches and management.
Defensively, Sceviour covers his own end well, and he is one of Stars head coach Willie Desjardin's most trusted penalty killers this season, even having scored on of his six goals while shorthanded. With a trio of Dallas' top penalty killing forwards last season - Steve Ott, Adam Burish, and Radek Dvorak - all departing the team this past offseason, there will be a lot of PK minutes that will need to be accounted for, and Sceviour could be a candidate for the job.
But the real X-Factor that is making Sceviour so impressive this season so far, however, is his ability to come through for his team in the clutch.
Texas won the first three of their current six-game road trip, with all the games being decided in the third period. Sceviour scored the game-winning goal in the 5-3 win over San Antonio, another game-winning goal in the team's 5-4 victory over Rockford, and had the primary assist on Jordie Benn's game-winner in the 3-1 match against Grand Rapids.
And last night against the Milwaukee Admirals Sceviour was, once again, the hero, scoring the deciding goal 1:56 into overtime, his team-leading third game-winner on the season.
Players that can elevate their level of play when the game is on the line are essential pieces of successful teams, and no Stars player has been able to match Sceviour on that front as of late.
During the summer, before the lockout began, Dallas fans began speculating which of the organization's up-and-comers had the best chances of cracking the NHL. Sceviour's name was rarely one that came up. But now in his fourth year of continued improvement and experience at the AHL level, combined with being one of the most consistent high-level players on his team, he is beginning to make a very noticeable case that he is the next Dallas prospect deserving of an NHL promotion.