The World Junior Summer Showcase is like those perfunctory street races in Latin American countries that punctuate the latter day Fast and Furious films. The stakes aren’t high (except for the last one where Vin Diesel drives an exploding car in reverse) but all of everyone’s favorite toys are on display.
This year Dallas had their own sports cars on display. And they were all up to the task of looking good on the runaway.
Tufte had a rough early season for the University of Minnesota Duluth. Coming back from a wrist injury, and missing the first four games as a result, he went pointless through his first 14 games. You can read a lengthy, but well worth it read of Tufte’s early season struggles at SB Nation’s college hockey page.
Tufte broke through to start the 2017 calendar year, getting better help at center, and finding his stride literally and figuratively. It was enough for him to be NCAA Star of the Week after a series of games that saw him record nine points through ten games.
Tufte’s tools are considerable: it’s one thing to stand at 6’6. It’s another to be 6’6 and move the way Tufte does. On Sunday, Tufte went pointless but played strong according to Steve Kournianos.
#WJSS: USA-Blue and Finland scoreless after 20. Koivula (NYI), Norris (SJ), Tufte (DAL) and Sean Dhooghe stood out in a good way.— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) July 30, 2017
If you don’t follow Kournianos, you should. His Draft Analyst page is a fantastic resource for draft nerds, complete with combine notes, report cards (he gave Dallas an A-), and of course, profiles.
Exhibit A as to what makes Tufte a potential blue chip prospect. There are hundreds of different elements to skating, and Tufte checks off a lot of skating boxes he shouldn’t at 6’6. The Mountain That Skates isn’t just fast, like most guys, but nimble. He covers a lot of space quickly thanks to his mobilty, and as seen here, some respectable playmaking chops.
If there’s a criticism to Tufte’s game, as Chris Dilks noted, it’s that he doesn’t excel in front of the net the way you’d assume he would.
On Saturday he displayed some subtle improvements to this part of his game. As I’ve droned on and on about, Dallas’ dedicated winger cupboard is fairly thin. If Tufte can break out next season, just imagine the absurdity of Tufte and Nichushkin on Martin Hanzal’s wings (or whatever small building Nill drafts at center next).
Speaking of centers...
Fredrik Karlstrom (DAL) gets credit for GWG with 9.7 seconds left. Sweden beats USA Blue 4-3— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) July 29, 2017
Karlstrom had a productive weekend as well.
Not much has been noted about Karlstrom. The 6’2 Swedish center plucked in the third round put up a respectable 24 points in 45 games in Allsvenken as an 18 year old.
He notched two points on Saturday, including a buzzer beating tip in to win the game.
Here’s Karlstrom making expert use of the stretch pass. It’s difficult to really glean much from one weekend tournament, but not knowing a lot about Karlstrom, the most noticeable part of his game appears to be his passing.
This feed to Jesper Boqvist is an even better example:
Not only is Karlstrom an adept puck handler, but his passes are clean, and he displays excellent vision on both goals to read the play first in order to create opportunities for his teammates. Like Derek, I’m gonna keep nitpicking Jim Nill on his alleged fear of drafting smaller playmaking forwards. Karlstrom’s ceiling is a complete question mark of course, but it’s nice to see a Dallas prospect with talents that don’t profile the way most of their forwards do - big north south wingers who can snipe and move.
Since this is the Nill era, naturally the next highlight involves a big north south winger who can snipe and move.
Robertson falling to Dallas in the second round is the kind of thing Stars fans pray to the hockey gods becomes a puck blessing after the ruin of extraterrestrial viruses, inexplicable number one center debates, and blueline Halloween candy bags the hockey gods left Dallas with in 2017.