The final 90 seconds of overtime Tuesday night sure were exciting, right?
Dallas’ Julius Honka and Gemel Smith had the puck on a string. Honka shined in the extra session, and for that matter the whole game.
His speed, defensive ability and offensive touch was displayed in full force. He capped his effort with a dominating 30 seconds of action that ended with an OT winner Over Mike Smith’s shoulder.
Stars fans may be left with an empty feeling come Saturday. Dallas will miss the playoffs for the seventh time in the past nine years - one year after falling one game shy of the Western Conference Finals.
Last night, though, gave Stars fans a glimpse into the very near future and the image was clear: The kids are ready.
Yes, it was against lowly Phoenix. There was nothing up for grabs. But they didn't care.
Tuesday’s scorers — Jason Dickinson, Brett Ritchie and Honka — have a combined age of 65, with Ritchie being the eldest at just 23.
A lot can change in the coming months, especially with the expansion draft, but Dallas’ roster next season could be very young.
On offense Dallas will have Smith, Dickinson, Remi Elie and Justin Dowling battling for spots that have also seen time in the NHL. That’s not taking into account Cedar Parks’ Mark McNeil, Matej Stransky and the highly-touted Denis Gurianov.
Defensively, Dallas has a plethora of young talent. Already in the NHL, Dallas has Stephen Johns, Jamie Oleksiak and Esa Lindell. However, players like Dillon Heatherington and Gavin Bayreuther, who Dallas signed last month out of St. Lawrence University, could make plays, or at least raise the eyebrows of the (new?) coaching staff.
Now, the expansion draft may affect certain players and positions.
Dallas has two options when it comes to protecting players: It can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie.
All players with a current and continuing “no movement” clause are protected, as well as all first and second year players. Unsigned draft picks are also protected.
Vegas must select one player from each of the 30 NHL teams - 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. A minimum of 20 players who are under contract for 2017-18 must be selected.
That situation muddles things a bit for Dallas. The decision between whether to protect Johns or Oleksiak will likely go down to the 5 p.m. deadline on June 17th.
It is not known what general manager Jim Nill will do between the pipes or at forward, though there has been plenty of prognostication on the topic here at Defending Big D and around the Dallas mainstream media outlets.
Whatever happens over the last two games, through the summer free agency and into next season, Dallas’ young talent should be a cause for excitement.
Sprinkle in a goalie...cough, Scott Darling, cough... a veteran forward and a top tier defenseman, and Dallas could be setup to rebound in a big way in 2017-18.