Prior to the Dallas Stars’ shelling at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, TSN insider and reliable hockey media source Bob McKenzie reported that Dallas was the likely frontrunner for Gavin Bayreuther, one of the top NCAA defensive free agents this season.
Sounds like DAL is frontrunner to get college UFA D Gavin Bayreuther of SLU. Was between DAL/BUF. BUF appears to be out.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 15, 2017
The fit seems to be a pretty good one for Bayreuther in the type of system Dallas has been playing since last season: high tempo, high event hockey. He is a left handed offensive defensemen that can skate and seems to have a high hockey IQ quotient. With young guys like John Klingberg and Julius Honka on the right, Bayreuther should provide the Stars with a balance of offensive defensemen that can skate.
The assumption is that Bayreuther, who some scouting sources have cited as close to NHL ready, will be given every opportunity to compete for a roster spot out of training camp next season.
SBNation’s College Hockey profiled Bayreuther for the 2014 draft, and recent reports show similar strengths and weaknesses in his game in terms of his NHL readiness:
“Strengths: High skill set from the blue line, has a great shot and the ability to see up ice and create offense in transition
Weaknesses: Play in own zone has come along way, but still work to do, needs to work on gap control”
The defensive IQ is likely a big draw for general manager Jim Nill, who has shown a tendency to draft high hockey IQ over a mature physical tool set for the NHL style with guys like Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov.
A profile of Bayreuther from his home state publication New Hampshire Union Leader highlighted the changes that the young defenseman has undergone this season. His coach wanted Bayreuther to focus on developing into a 200-foot player, noting that his defensive play had to match his offensive play in order to achieve the highest levels possible in pro hockey.
The point did not go unnoticed by Bayreuther. “He’s really helped me and it’s allowed me to be able to seriously get more offensive chances as well because it all starts with defense.”