It’s amazing how much confidence can do for a player.
For much of last season, Denis Gurianov did not look like a very confident player. His play on the ice for the Texas Stars was often hesitant, restrained. He put up decent numbers, with 19 goals and 34 points in 74 games, but given the tantalizing skill that he occasionally flashed, you just knew there was more he could offer.
Things came to a somewhat controversial head in the AHL’s Calder Cup Final, where Gurianov was healthy scratched after more than one such passive performance where he was simply too invisible and failed to make an impact.
Fast forward a few months, however, and things seem to have taken a turn for the better.
Gurianov earned high marks during the Dallas Stars’ training camp and in the preseason, displaying more confidence and making more of a difference out on the ice.
Although he failed to crack the Dallas roster, the positive momentum that Gurianov built up over the past month or so seems to have carried over into the AHL. The 21-year-old Russian winger currently leads Texas in scoring with four points in four games, with his last point coming on a beautiful goal that tied up Saturday’s game against the Iowa Wild with only seconds remaining.
In a recent article, The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reached out to a scout and to Texas head coach Derek Laxdal to get their thoughts on the change in Gurianov’s play.
“He looks like he’s a better player; he cares more on every shift,” the scout said. “It seems like he knows what to do now.”
“Denis seems to be getting better every game,” Laxdal said. “Last night against Rockford, he was the best player on the ice for either team.”
No two development paths are the same for hockey players (well, except maybe if you’re the Sedin twins). A couple of so-so seasons will be forgotten quickly if Gurianov can build off of his hot start and keep getting the most out of his impressive abilities.
Another prospect who had a big weekend for Texas was defenseman Gavin Bayreuther, one of Dallas’ last cuts before the regular season began. He picked up one goal and two assists in his past two games.
Adam Mascherin scored his first professional goal over the weekend, while Ben Gleason, who earned a contract with Dallas thanks to his stellar play in the Traverse City tournament, added his first professional point on an assist.
North American Juniors
Last week I started this feature off by discussing Jason Robertson and how he is dominating the OHL, more or less single-handedly. Well, not only is Robertson still keeping up that level of play, he might have even stepped his game up a notch since last week, if that’s even possible. He picked up five goals and three assists over his past three games, and topped those points off with a heaping pile of shots on net. His 13 goals and 64 shots through 10 games both still lead the OHL.
Riley Damiani had another strong week for Kitchener, picking up five points over three games. His best outing came against the Flint Firebirds on Friday, recording two goals (one of which was the game-winner midway through the third period) and an assist.
Liam Hawel had his season-opening point streak snapped at seven games. He currently sits with 11 points in nine games thus far for the Guelph Storm while playing on the team’s top line.
Brett Davis missed all three of the Kootenay Ice’s games last week with what is reported as a lower-body injury. He’s listed as being out day-to-day.
Jermaine Loewen had quite an interesting week. The bad: he was officially suspended for four games following a check to the head of an opposing player. He’ll be eligible to return to the Kamloops Blazers lineup on October 26. The good: Loewen was named the team’s newest captain.
“The position I was in a few years ago, I never really pictured that I would be the captain of the Kamloops Blazers, but just through hard work, and I have had a lot of help from people in the organization giving me chances to become who I am, it’s pretty awesome to be where I am right now,” Loewen said.
Albin Eriksson picked up his third assist of the season for Skelleftea in the SHL. It came on a nice play, with Eriksson stickhandling through traffic to get a puck to his linemate.
Dallas Stars 2018 2nd rounder Albin Eriksson picked up another assist in the SHL yesterday thanks to a strong effort and some nice stickwork in tight spaces.— Derek Boo-meier (@Derek_N_NHL) October 14, 2018
Mora IK - Skellefteå AIK 1-1 https://t.co/qX1hfWjuSJ via @SHLse
Jokke Nevalainen, a writer and scout at the website Dobber Prospects, released the first edition of his SHL Report recently, which included a comment about how Fredrik Karlstrom is averaging over two minutes per game on the penalty kill for Linkoping. That’s a good sign for Karlstrom’s NHL potential, as he likely projects more as a bottom six forward than a top six forward. It’s also worth mentioning that Linkoping is currently the top team in the SHL, with a record of 7-2.
Oskar Bäck picked up two more points in three games played for BIK Karlskoga, including the game-winning goal on Friday. Video of his two points can be found within the first minute of the video at this link.