Day 2 of the 2012 Dallas Stars Development Camp is complete and we have some fresh observations for your reading pleasure on a steamy afternoon in Texas.
As with all observations of this nature, it's important to remember that as many prospects that seem to have a great future -- only a few will ever make an impact at the NHL level for the Dallas Stars. That's just the way this works and the Stars have a good situation brewing where it's tough to really figure out which of the young guys that are "close" will be the ones to make that big jump.
Philip Larsen was not nearly as highly touted as Ivan Vishnevskiy, for instance, yet Larsen was able to become a regular for the Stars after taking advantage of the injury situation of the team last year and sticking. So all of the positive talk about Scott Glennie, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Alex Chiasson, Reilly Smith, Austin Smith, Brett Ritchie and Matej Stransky -- history tells us that not all of these players will make the big jump to the NHL and stick.
In the meantime, we can continue to wax poetic about the promising nature of the Stars prospects and the good vibes being built around this team. We do so after the jump.
Note: Some critical observations today on some players, but it's important to take into account that many of these players are back on the ice after a few months away from hockey -- and being put through some fairly rigorous drills on top of the competitive drills.
** Lots of questions about Emil Molin yesterday, so here are some observations on the center the Stars selected last year. Molin certainly has good creativity with the puck and good hands, but his best asset at this moment is his quickness and skating ability. He's not as undersized as I'd expected him to be, but it's incredible to think he's been playing in the SEL this past season. That's significant.
** Some players looked to be a bit winded on the second day of camp, which is to be expected. We were told after practice that the coaches are pushing the players harder than they have in the past and that's certainly on display this weekend. Brent Severyn has been running the camp this year and with his focus on fitness, it's understandable they're being pushed so hard.
** Jamie Oleksiak has all of the tools to be great. I've said it before and I'll say it again. His ability to get low and skate so smoothly despite his size is incredibly impressive and he uses his long reach and strength perfectly. In the competitive drills we saw, Oleksiak dominated the ice around him. He also has great touch on his passes and his puck skills are above average as well for a defenseman.
** Jykki Jokipakka might be the best defenseman on the ice with the puck but his skating and foot speed need work. He was obviously below guys like Oleksiak, Nemeth, Dillon and perhaps Vance in this regard -- but he makes up for it with his puck skills.
** Brett Ritchie doesn't get nearly the amount of attention as he deserves. The Stars 2011 2nd round draft pick could be the best pure goal-scorer the Stars have in the system, a combination of good size and tremendous shooting ability that almost makes one think of James Neal when you watch him on the ice.
** I was told today that the Stars are extremely high on Matej Stransky and it's easy to see why. He's got tremendous poise and skill with the puck and with his size, already has the physical tools to play in the NHL. But his release and shot are still below NHL standards and you wonder how it will translate to higher levels of play against better goaltenders. It's a bit of a low release and not as quick as you'd like it to be, but that's something that can be improved upon as well.
** Gemel Smith is a spitfire of a player and if he plays like he practices, it's easy to see where the comparisons to Steve Ott come from. I wasn't able to get a good look at his skill set overall but it certainly seems like he could have the same issues as Ott as well: good speed, very high "motor", but without the skills and hands to be a true "top six" forward.
** Ludwig Bystrom was the standout for Team B and clearly is an offensive defenseman. He's got great speed and skating ability and looks like a forward when he has the puck on his stick. Yet he still needs to get some bulk on his frame and it's likely he's 2-3 years away from being NHL ready.
** Have I mentioned yet how impressive Oleksiak and Nemeth have been so far in camp? I've heard that even the Stars front office has been pleasantly surprised and excited about what these two could accomplish.