Dallas Stars fans can joke all they want about winning the offseason, but the search for a new head coach has plenty of people fired up and ready for something potentially wonderful. Yet the excitement seems tempered by a very real concern: that the Stars’ next bench boss believes in the future of its young talent.
Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News has heard your comments (and occasional cries) over the course of the season. In one of his latest stories, he reviews some young players on young teams who have not just survived but thrived in the blast furnace of an NHL season:
[The Colorado Avalanche] played 19-year-old Samuel Girard almost 18 minutes a game on defense this season. The [Vancouver] Canucks gave 21-year-old winger Brock Boeser more than 17 minutes a game. The [Winnipeg] Jets played 21-year-old Kyle Connor almost 17 minutes a game alongside their top players.
Connor was taken five picks after the Stars selected Denis Gurianov in the 2015 draft. Gurianov has played one NHL game and is ripening in the AHL right now. That leads to debate on whether the Stars have drafted good young talent that will eventually earn their minutes or whether the coaches need to give the trust and minutes first to see what the young players can accomplish.
Ken Hitchcock’s tendency to sit the youngsters for extended stretches, and his reasons for doing so, are by now a matter of fairly brutal public record. Case in point: Julius Honka, who came into 2017-18 as one of the NHL’s top 20 prospects and as a veteran of 191 AHL games. To most observers, he seemed like the perfect candidate to learn, adapt and shine in his first full season in Dallas.
Yet the Finnish first-rounder played an average of only 13:00 minutes in just 42 games – effectively burning off a rookie season that a few analysts had predicted would put him into the Calder Trophy discussion. The team doesn’t plan to repeat that pattern, Heika writes:
With Honka and Miro Heiskanen, 18, expected to contend for minutes on the Stars’ defense next season, fans would like to see those assets maximized.
”I think every team needs depth, and we’re no different,” Stars owner Tom Gaglardi said. “But I believe we have kids here who are ready and need to play. I think the answers are in our system or on our team.”...
“The silver lining in all of this is that we are a better team today, that we are a more disciplined defensive team because of Ken,” Gaglardi said. “Now, we have to build on that.”
Heika has more, including reasons why Gurianov, Honka, Heiskanen and three additional young Stars – Jason Dickinson, Remi Elie and Valeri Nichushkin – could benefit from the team’s next transition. [SportsDayDFW]
There was little in the way of D-Stars news over the weekend, but Sean Shapiro has dropped a preview of the week to come:
We'll start diving into the Stars coaching search in-depth on Tuesday in the @theathleticDFW. Plan is to have individual stories on candidates after proper dissection of video/research/reporting/etc.. on potential coaches. Ideally have a candidate profile ready every 2-3 days.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) April 15, 2018
Confirmed: It pretty much sucks to be a DFW sports fan right now.
And DBD prospect maven Derek Neumeier passes on the news that 2017 first-rounder Jake Oettinger will return to the NCAA next season as a Boston University alternate captain.
Around the League(s): Postseason Edition
Eat Hot #Death
- After eating two losses in Canada, the Minnesota Wild delivered a tail-whipping unto the Jets on home ice, 6-2. Jordan Greenway earned his first NHL and first Stanley Cup playoff goal, and the Wild held the deadly Patrik Laine to a single shot on net. [Hockey Wilderness]
The Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers series has swung from one brutal extreme to the next. Last night the Flyers were once again on the load end of the pan, as Sidney Crosby unleashed a four-point game during the Pens’ 5-1 victory.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin made magic for the Penguins this afternoon, giving their team a 2-1 lead in their barnburner of a series against the Flyers https://t.co/Ve0sjiK1Ak— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) April 15, 2018
The Washington Capitals dropped Game 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, leaving their fans to relive stress flashbacks of previous first-round exits. T.J. Oshie leveled the score with 3:35 left in regulation, but Matt Calvert deposited the game-winner during the first overtime.
Highlight Recap, Game Two: Blue Jackets at Capitals https://t.co/BStpYhTj4p— x - The Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 16, 2018
The Caps-Jackets game was marked by injury, but not to a player. Linesman Steve Barton is being evaluated for a knee injury he sustained after his clicked skates with Columbus forward Josh Anderson.
A scary scene in Washington as linesman Steve Barton leaves the game with a knee injury.https://t.co/bCrgN3Nunt— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 16, 2018
Back in the West, the Vegas Golden Knights took a massive 3-0 series lead with a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Former Star James Neal scored his 26th playoff goal to give the Knights the lead with 5:37 left in the third period.
The @GoldenKnights are the third franchise in NHL history to win each of their first 3+ playoff games and the only club to do so in its inaugural season. #NHLStats #VGKvsLAK #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/5vfw0VwqCd— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 16, 2018
Meanwhile, Erik Haula got away with an iffy hit on Anze Kopitar, and it’s causing a Twitter commotion – especially because Kopitar appears to have laid a cross-check on Haula first.
Haula butt-ends Kopitar in the face and gets away with it pic.twitter.com/EKc1sghmGW— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 16, 2018
Is Marc-Andre Fleury the happiest fella in the NHL? Think about it.
The Kings, on the other hand, are almost certainly not Feeling It.
The Kings had one three-game stint with three total goals or fewer all season. They picked a real bad time to do it again. pic.twitter.com/iI5xdY6gGa— Jewels from the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) April 16, 2018
Playoffs experience matters, no matter what: Matt Larkin makes the case for learning to lose in a championship series.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park (and Beautiful Boise)
Brand-new Star Tony Calderone got his first AHL goal, and got to enjoy it in front of an H-E-B Center crowd:
Calderone talked about his transition to the pro ranks from the NCAA during the postgame interviews.
Tony talks about adjusting to life in the AHL and his first goal with the Stars in tonight's game. pic.twitter.com/ftT63leBaM— x - Texas Stars (@TexasStars) April 15, 2018
The Idaho Steelheads are in the thick of Kelly Cup action and have dropped Games 1 and 2 at home to the Allen Americans. The series now moves to North Texas, with games coming up on Wednesday, April 18 and Friday, April 20 in Allen Event Center. Look for tickets online and remember, the parking is free.
Your belated Yuri’s Night present comes courtesy of Slava Malamud – this historic photo of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin engaging in some extracurriculars on ice. Enjoy.
OK, now this is awesome. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, playing hockey. The real gem here is the jersey which says "Nashi", a Russian word for "Ours", which is what we affectionately call our national teams. Also, is that a cigarette? via @Hockey_Gods pic.twitter.com/Gk7Gobw5v5— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) April 15, 2018