To say that the Dallas Stars have endured a long stretch of failing to draft and develop homegrown goaltenders would be... well... a massive understatement.
Yes, former 11th overall draft pick Jack Campbell has carved out an NHL role for himself with the Los Angeles Kings, but considering his development had to be more or less rescued, that can’t be chalked up as a win for the Stars. And with all due respect to Richard Bachman, he only played 32 games in a Stars jersey and never became a full-time NHLer after he left the organization, so it’s hard to really count him, either.
No, you’d have to go all the way back — past names such as Tyler Beskorowany and Tobias Stephan — to Mike Smith, who was selected 161st overall in 2001, to find a successfully homegrown goalie for the organization. And even then, Smith barely counts — he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lighting after a season and a half in exchange for Brad Richards.
But is that long drought finally starting to end?
It’s too early to say definitively, and many Stars fans will probably be too scarred to get their hopes up too high... but things are indeed looking up. And this past weekend for the Texas Stars is a good reflection of that.
Texas won their pair of games, both against the Grand Rapids Griffins, and one notable trend was common in both contests: goaltending.
On Friday night 24-year-old netminder Landon Bow turned aside 36 of 39 shots, including some high-quality chances, and then stopped all three Griffins in the shootout to preserve a 4-3 victory.
Not to be outdone, rookie pro and 2017 first-rounder Jake Oettinger recorded his first AHL shutout on Saturday, denying all 28 Grand Rapids shots to earn the clean sheet in a 3-0 win.
“He was outstanding, square to the puck, didn’t give up a lot of rebounds,” Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said, as reported by our friends at 100 Degree Hockey. “He got some key saves and key whistles for us, especially on the PK.”
Bow is now up to a 2-1-0 record on the season, with a .942 save percentage. Oettinger is 1-1-1 with a .921 save percentage himself.
“I think first of all, Landon Bow has been outstanding for us,” Laxdal said recently to The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro as part of a Texas Stars roundup, where Bow was named as the team’s early-season MVP. “His play has carried right over from training camp in Dallas and obviously, it’s good to see his game grow.”
“Knowing what the future holds up there where there could be a spot in the future, I just want to make sure I put my best foot forward,” Bow said of himself and his spot in the organization. “I want to give everything and show what I can really do.”
There’s still a long way to go, of course. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are NHL goaltenders. But, at least for now, there’s some hope that the Dallas Stars’ long struggles of drafting and developing goalies will one day come to an end.
It’s been pivotal that Bow and Oettinger have been so good for the Texas Stars, as the team was outshot in both of their games against the Griffins. With an influx of young players this season the team has something of a learning curve that they’re having to play through.
At 23 years old he might not be “young,” per se, but Joel Kiviranta is still a rookie in North America and is one of the many players adjusting to life in the AHL. He picked up his first-career AHL goal in Saturday’s win.
Fellow European and AHL rookie Emil Djuse picked up a couple of secondary assists in the same game while playing on a defensive pairing with Swedish countryman John Nyberg.
Speaking of goaltenders in the system, Colton Point made his season debut on Saturday with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads and stopped 31 of 33 shots against the Wichita Thunder. Video highlights below (NB: the highlight package shows Wichita’s first goal twice):
North American Juniors
Thomas Harley’s season-long point streak extended to eight games over the weekend as he picked up two goals and three assists in two Mississauga Steelheads wins. He was named the second star in Friday’s match and then the first star in Saturday’s. With 15 points in eight games he comfortably leads his Steelheads team in scoring.
Flint Firebirds forward Ty Dellandrea is riding a seven-game point streak of his own, compiling 12 points over that span. The Firebirds keep rolling, improving their record after this weekend to 7-3 on the season.
Curtis Douglas continues to make an impact for the Windsor Spitfires since the recent shift from the wing to playing center, adding a goal and two helpers in two contests. One of those contests was a 7-5 victory against Delladrea’s Firebirds.
HIGHLIGHTS presented by @FrankBrewingCo: @AfanasyevE11 (2G, 1A) and @Angle89Tyler (1G, 2A) paced another big offensive effort, as the Spits beat the @FlintFirebirds 7-5 on Thursday night @WFCUCentre. pic.twitter.com/oykazr3jI1— Windsor Spitfires (@SpitsHockey) October 18, 2019
Nick Porco, who was selected by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round, 142nd overall, in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, has had a slow start to his season, struggling to find ice time and a prominent role on a deep Saginaw Spirit team. After five straight games without a point he rebounded a bit, picking up two goals and an apple in a 9-1 win on Friday.
Red Deer Rebels defenseman Dawson Barteaux scored one goal in two games, both of which ended in losses for the struggling club.
Forward Albin Eriksson is currently out of Skelleftea’s lineup due to an injury. He has two assists in 10 SHL games thus far.
On Monday it was announced that Eriksson and fellow Stars prospect Oskar Back had been named to Sweden’s roster for the upcoming four-nation tournament, which is usually something of a test drive for the participating teams’ World Junior rosters. Back has long been a staple internationally for Sweden, while Eriksson has appeared from time to time.
Sweden's U20 roster for the November tournament. This gives an indication of who they are looking at for the World Juniors pic.twitter.com/tTvhnlNRlT— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) October 21, 2019
After starting his season in Sweden’s second highest league, the Allsvenskan, blueliner Samuel Sjolund was recently reassigned to the country’s junior league, the SuperElit. He has one goal and one assists in six games since the change.