Given the diagnosis that sidelined him for the 2016-2017 season, Mattias Janmark is a player that statistically shouldn’t be where he is at today. Because of the diagnosis of osteochondritis dissecans that prematurely ended his chances of playing last season, Janmark gives it his all every time he has the puck on his stick this year. He simply glows with confidence, always has a smile on his face, and for good reason.
Janmark scored his first goal on the first shot he had taken this year against the St. Louis Blues on October 7. Fast forward to the next game against the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Janmark scored again on the first shot he had taken in his second straight game. He is a playmaker and while the diagnosis that held him out last season may have interrupted his development, Janmark now is back and better than ever.
Janmark went from playing in 73 games his rookie season in 2015-16 and notching 29 points, to being out all of 2016-17 and questioning if he’d ever return to the ice again. Now, however, Janmark has matched his rookie season totals in goals and assists and still has 28 games to yet to play this year. With 29 points, 15 goals, and 14 assists this season, Janmark is leading the team in scoring behind the big four of Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn, and John Klingberg.
In addition to his scoring ability, Janmark has provided a playmaking skill that the Stars desperately need outside of the first line. Along with his speed and playmaking ability, he has accrued four game-winning goals and is currently behind only Tyler Seguin, who has five. Janmark has demonstrated the ability to open up the ice and provide multiple opportunities out at left wing, which gives the Stars a top-six skill when he gets rolling.
Defying all expectations in both seasons, Janmark has been tremendous since joining the Stars. During his first season, he was just a small name acquisition that ended up turning heads until his season-ending diagnosis in 2016. Many wondered if he would have the same speed or deft playmaking ability this year as he did in his first season. Clearly, his numbers so far have eased any doubts. Now, he is back in the lineup and turning heads each game with his quick play and deft puck maneuvers on the ice.
Janmark has continued to take on a bigger role with this current roster and has historically lived up to the challenges thrown his way. Whether that’s being on the power play or even being on the ice for shorthanded, penalty-kill situations, he does not back down.
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for how good he can be. And now there’s no worrying. He just comes to the rink and is a normal hockey player. And now you’re seeing him get extended time with us and he’s playing big minutes. I think he plays the third or fourth most minutes as far as a forward goes. He’s effective in every zone and is a dynamic player.” - Ken Hitchcock
Hitchcock perfectly highlighted Janmark’s constant shifts on the ice, with his average at just over 17 minutes time on ice per game - the fourth most among forwards on the Stars roster.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the player that best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication. There is no doubt that Janmark has thrown his helmet in the ring for it this season. However, the chances that he wins the trophy are very slim, as Brian Boyle is currently tapped as the main contender and may more likely that not take home the award.
Boyle, who was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia in September 2017, has fought hard on and off the ice to have a season to remember this year. He returned to the ice in November just over a month after his diagnosis and immediately beginning treatment. Boyle replaced his teammate, Taylor Hall, at the All Star Game at the end of January this year, and was the center of attention in Tampa Bay. Boyle has continued treatment while he plays with the New Jersey Devils this season. Since returning to the lineup on November 1, Boyle has 17 points, 11 goals, and 6 assists through 42 games.
Even though Janmark will likely not take home the trophy, that’s perfectly okay. This trophy is to commemorate circumstances such as those that have surrounded these two players and to demonstrate that nothing is impossible. Against all the odds, Janmark’s sophomore season continues to be an upward trend for him, and the Stars are clearly glad to have him back in full form.