Following the trend of an already busy day for NHL trades, the Dallas Stars finally made their first move, sending pending free-agent forward Erik Cole and a 2015 3rd round pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2015 2nd round pick and prospects Mattias Backman and Mattias Janmark.
It's an interesting, albeit not surprising, move for the Stars. Cole's been on the trading block for a while now, and the going rate right now for most rentals seems to be a pick and a prospect, or some combination thereof.
So, who are these two new prospects, and what will they bring to the Stars' prospect pool?
Mattias Backman - Defense:
Backman, 22, is a balanced two-way defenseman currently playing for Linkopings in the Swedish Hockey League. He started this season in the AHL for the Grand Rapid Griffins but soon headed back to Sweden, where he's posted an impressive 16 points in 23 games.
Backman was a member of Sweden's 2012 Gold medal-winning World Junior team, playing alongside both John Klingberg and Patrik Nemeth. So there's definitely some familiarity there between the three.
He'll probably stay in Sweden for the time being, but will likely join the Texas Stars either later this spring or later this summer.
J.J. From Kansas, of the site Winging It In Motown, had the following to say about Backman:
Matthias Backman was listed as "just about ready" when he came to Grand Rapids from Sweden last year. He had a pretty good season and a decent enough camp, but he was unable to wow the Wings and got kind of lost in the shuffle of four other defensive prospects. During this season, he kind of lost patience with the process and decided to go to Sweden to get more playing time. He's just about NHL ready and has good potential for Dallas if they can afford to shelter him a bit to let his good hockey instincts keep up with his getting used to the North American style. He's tall and lanky, but should continue putting on weight.
From the website Hockey's Future:
Despite his size, Backman doesn’t play a particularly physical or powerful game. He is a simple, economical defenseman who makes the smart play and knows to play within himself. He’s an excellent skater for his size, makes a good first pass and makes good decisions with and without the puck. He won’t wow you, but he won’t often be beat or get caught cheating either.
After making big strides forward in 2013-14 Backman appears ready to challenge for an NHL job. A crowded defense corps in Detroit will make that a challenge, and he may have to spend another season in Grand Rapids.
Comparable Player: Jyrki Jokipakka
NHL Potential: 2nd or 3rd pair two-way defenseman that can also log some powerplay time.
Mattias Janmark - Center/Left Wing:
Janmark, also 22 and from Sweden, is a two-way forward that plays the game with a blend of skill and energy. He has 36 points in 53 games this season for Frolunda in the SHL, second on his team.
Janmark will also stay in Sweden currently, but could likewise join the Texas Stars for their playoff run this spring or head over to North America this summer before joining Texas next season.
J.J. had more information to share, including some great information from Red Wings Central:
Janmark is a bit more of a mystery. He hasn't really been on the prospect radar too much around Detroit, which is interesting considering their center depth among prospects is currently a question mark. He's got decent potential as a prospect, but I'm not sure he'll be able to grow past a two-way solid third-liner.
"He’s confident with the puck, his speed his fine, his hands are very good, and he’s tenacious — he chases the puck all the time. He’s not physical, but he chases the puck. If he loses it, he chases it and gets it right back. If he doesn’t have the puck, his feet are always moving … I like what he can do with the puck, but that goes along with the fact that he plays with intensity all the time." — Red Wings director of European scoutingHakan Andersson (June 2013) … "Every team in the league, the coaches I’ve talked to all tell me, they have to look out for him and make sure their D know all about him, because he’s a threat when he has the puck. You look away for a second and something is going on. He makes chances happen out of nothing." —Andersson (January 2014).
A dynamic offensive threat who is more of a goal-scorer but who can also set up his linemates … Self-creates offense … Dangerous on the rush when he gains the offensive zone with speed … Loves carrying the puck and is a good stickhandler with a soft touch … Excellent hockey sense … Plays with intensity and has strong work ethic on the ice … Pursues the puck relentlessly when he doesn’t have it, similar to Gustav Nyquist … Moves his feet non-stop … Good skater … Power-play threat … Can play both center and left wing although he prefers to line up down the middle.
Needs to get stronger, particularly in his lower body, and commit to better conditioning, because he didn’t train in the off-season from the ages to 16 to 20 because of a knee injury … Doesn’t play a physical game … Struggles on faceoffs as a center, winning just 215 of 609 faceoffs in 2012-13 and 2013-14 in the SHL for a success rate of just 35.3 percent … Needs to refine his defensive play.
Janmark looked on the verge of a breakout season in 2013-14 before battling injuries and struggling in the second half. With AIK relegated to Sweden’s second level, Janmark was a sought after SHL free agent in the spring of 2014 and eventually signed with Frolunda for the 2014-15 season. He has been compared to Gustav Nyquist by Red Wings super scout Hakan Andersson and projects as a scoring-line center/winger at the NHL level if he continues to develop.
From Hockey's Future:
Has both offensive upside and defensive intelligence. Not a physical player, but a skilled forechecker who can translate that into scoring opportunities. Offensively, Janmark-Nylen is adept at both scoring and distributing the puck.
Janmark had to find a new SHL team for 2014-15 after AIK was demoted. He eventually signed with Frolunda and will look to replicate the offensive success he had in the first half of 2013-14, when he appeared to project as a future top six forward in the NHL.
Comparable Player: Cody Eakin
NHL Potential: Top 6 or Top 9 two-way forward. Could be relied upon in an offensive role or provide some scoring depth from an energy line.