The Dallas Stars are looking for more scoring – so they’re turning to the AHL’s current goal leader. Center Joel L’Esperance has racked up 27 tallies in 49 games and ranks second among rookies with 42 points total – an .857 PPG pace.
But can the undrafted Michigan Tech product play his high-scoring game in his first call-up to the big league? Mark Stepneski takes a closer look:
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound L’Esperance, who is a Michigan native, has a nice mix of size, skill, and smarts. He’s a well-rounded player, brings a physical element and plays well on both sides of the puck. Is he going to be an NHL scorer? Hard to say. Goal scoring in the AHL doesn’t always translate to the NHL. But he’s got all the tools be an NHL player. Texas coach Derek Laxdal has compared L’Esperance to veteran NHL forward Jay Beagle, but with more of an offensive upside.
Back in early December, Dallas Stars brass attended a game between Texas and Milwaukee in Cedar Park, and L’Esperance scored twice on a game-high six shots on goal. Laxdal, in his postgame chat with the media, was asked what L’Esperance had meant to the team this season.
”He’s a horse. He’s a beast,” Laxdal said. “He’s a big, heavy centerman that seems to be getting better and better every game. He’s just growing as a player. You saw him ... playing a hard, heavy game and scoring off a rush on a breakaway, showing some great speed at the end of a shift.”
Mark has more. [Stars Inside Edge]
Anton Khudobin had an uncharacteristically bad night in Tampa Bay, but his helmet was amazing. Look at this.
Check out this cool custom mask made for Anton Khudobin of the @DallasStars for last night’s game in Tampa. The game was 1 of 6 ‘Russian Heritage Nights’ in the NHL this season and featured Anton Khudobin, Andrei Vasilvevsky, @86Kucherov & @RADUL22. pic.twitter.com/EHYR6zb647— NHLPA (@NHLPA) February 15, 2019
Speaking of looks, here’s a closer one at the blocked shot that’s keeping John Klingberg out of the lineup tonight. The Stars play the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. Central time.
This is the shot John Klingberg blocked. Jim Montgomery: “I think he’s fine, we were just being precautionary. But I don’t know exactly.” pic.twitter.com/9Qb0fBv4Uz— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) February 15, 2019
Fidds fans, this Monday is for you. Vernon Fiddler will be shaking hands and signing autographs at Rally House Frisco.
Around The League(s)
Netminder Cory Schneider has to be especially pleased: He broke a 21-game winless streak last night.
The TDL scene is starting to heat up, and Canes forward Michael Ferland is turning up in several trade scenarios.
Canes’ Ferland can’t ignore persistent trade speculation. "It’s tough obviously seeing your name all over the place." https://t.co/tmfRCebvwt— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) February 14, 2019
Micah Blake McCurdy has already gotten to work on finding out who won the trade....
Evaluated on all unblocked shots in the past 730 days:— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 16, 2019
Talbot increases the odds of a shot becoming a goal by 0.7%, relative to an average quality goalie; Stolarz increases the odds of a shot becoming a goal by 1.1%.
Both almost exactly bang on average.
Love your Russian hockey stars? Check out the new Hockey Night in Canada podcast.
Russian players have come a long way since Meehan brought Mogilny to North America— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) February 16, 2019
Listen wherever you get your podcasts https://t.co/VGPtlqWXhv
Did you know that the Stars are the only NHL team that hasn’t given up a shorthanded goal at 5-on-4 this season? Everybody has something – literally, as Sam McCaig has discovered.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
Milestones all around tonight as the #txstars take a 2-0 win over Tucson.— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) February 16, 2019
Philippe Desrosiers made 29 saves for the shutout, Robbie Payne scored his 1st goal, and Michael Mersch scored his 100th goal.
Read: https://t.co/UewfjXgp4h pic.twitter.com/npBDdmxtFP
Philippe Desrosiers is back in town and looking good in goal.
Philippe Desrosiers got the shutout and has really embraced his opportunity to play some more minutes.— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) February 16, 2019
Gabriel Landeskog preserves a Colorado Avalanche tradition as Dominic Toninato scores his first NHL goal. Enjoy.