Emil Molin has been one of the more intriguing prospects the Dallas Stars have had and his play in Sweden has often left many wanting more.
After being drafted in 2011 in the fourth round he went on to put up five points in 34 games in the SHL for Brynas. Most nights he was dressed as the extra forward and barely touched the ice. It was frustrating to watch for prospect followers because Molin does have the tools to be an impressive versatile forward, yet he wasn't going to develop as the extra forward.
He would sign with the Dallas Stars at the end of that season and return to Brynas to play for the 2012/13 season. It was hoped that he would get more ice time with Brynas in his second year there.
It was not to be.
He averaged 8 minutes per game and was briefly loaned to Mora in the Allsvenska. Despite his good play at the 2012/13 WJC, helping Sweden to a silver medal, he still couldn't find ice time with Brynas. It was a problem that appeared to stem from the lack of trust with him and Molin on occasion making some bad on ice decisions.
In March 2013 I wrote about Molin's ice time issues and whether it would be better for him to make the jump to North America where he could play with the Texas Stars or the Idaho Steelheads.
He remained in Sweden, still with Brynas, and the ice time issues remained. Eventually he was loaned to Rogle where he signed a one year extension. By all accounts he fitted in well with Rogle and was an important part of their promotion run.
Why does it mean that it's crunch time for Emil Molin? By the end of his Swedish adventures he will have used up two of the three years in his entry level contract. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2015/16 season. If he wants the Dallas Stars to think that it is in their best interests to keep him within the organisation he is going to have to use these next two seasons to really show what he can do.
Hopefully a full season, with one team, with regular minutes will help him push forward his development that has been stuttering the past few years. It's not got off to the best start. He was meant to be at the Traverse City tournament but took a puck to the head in a preseason game. He missed their opener but managed to be healthy for their second game of the season. He played on their fourth line and had 12 minutes of ice time.
After he finishes this season with Rogle the Dallas Stars want Molin in North America. The final year of his entry level contract will be his first in North America. In retrospect it may have been better for him to have made the move across the Atlantic several years ago.
Without a good season under his belt in Sweden this year his case for significant ice time in the AHL next season will be limited. With the number of forwards who are likely to graduate to the AHL next year (Jason Dickinson, Cole Ully and Remi Elie) and those who won't find NHL spots yet there is going to be limited opportunity for him to shine.
Could Emil Molin find himself without a contract after his entry level contract runs out? It is possible though the Dallas Stars might give him another year to prove that he has a future in North America and in the NHL.
What is certain is that time is running out for him to have a future in the NHL. It's crunch time for Emil Molin.