When 20 different NHL teams are all chasing the same player, that’s a pretty good sign that the player is — or might one day be — special.
Which is precisely why the Dallas Stars must be quite happy right now with their most recent transaction. On Saturday it was reported that the team had signed undrafted free agent Tye Felhaber of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, beating out 20 or so other teams who were apparently interested in Felhaber’s services.
The first thing you notice about Felhaber are the eye-popping stats that he’s putting up this season: 53 goals and 91 points, both of which currently lead the entire OHL, in just 51 games played.
You read that correctly: 53 goals in 51 games, a pace that would see him eclipse the 70-goal mark if he is able to sustain it through the rest of the year.
Just how special is that? The last player to score 70 goals in an OHL season was a 16-year-old John Tavares, all the way back in 2006-07.
So, yeah. Pretty special.
First to 5️⃣0️⃣ is @Felhaber62— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) January 26, 2019
Milestone marker for the @Ottawa67sHockey overage forward and top goal scorer in fittingly comes in the nation’s capital under the #CHL #SaturdayShowcase spotlight on @Sportsnet. pic.twitter.com/Oyl7GXuCNR
Now, it must be noted here that Felhaber is an OHL overager. He’s 20 years old and turns 21 in August. For those who don’t know, Canadian Hockey League teams are only allowed to carry three overage players each per season, because these players, unsurprisingly, usually torch the leagues they play in.
But make no mistake: Felhaber isn’t just some flash in the pan who is preying on easy competition. The 10th overall selection in the 2014 OHL draft, he’s always had talent, scoring 20 goals as an OHL rookie and eventually potting 70 points in 68 games last season, his third and final year of NHL draft eligibility.
Is he a late bloomer? That’s certainly what the Stars are hoping.
What we know for sure right now, though, is that this move is a wonderful roll of the dice for the organization to make.
They’ve been aggressive over the past few years in their signings of undrafted prospects and have reaped the rewards, with Gavin Bayreuther, Ben Gleason and Joel L’Esperance all looking like great bets to become NHLers, and beyond them, Landon Bow, Ondrej Vala and Tony Calderone have all showed flashes of potential as well.
Additionally, Felhaber seems like a good fit for what the organization’s prospect pool needed. The Stars have drafted plenty of big, two-way forwards who can fly in open ice, but were short on quick, offensively-gifted forwards who can thrive in tight spaces. Enter Felhaber, who plays with a lot of jump, has a lightning-fast release on his shot and thinks the game quickly enough to find open ice in the offensive zone whenever it presents itself.
Ottawa is currently the top team in the OHL (thanks in huge part to Felhaber) and has their eyes firmly set on a league title this season, making a few big moves before the trade deadline to bolster their roster for a playoff run, so the Dallas Stars and their fans might receive some extra opportunities to get acquainted with the team’s newest prospect this spring before he joins the Texas Stars next fall.
North American Juniors
After missing action in half of November and then most of December (to an injury and a suspension, respectively), Kitchener Rangers forward Riley Damiani had lost time to make up for — and boy, has he ever. In his 14 games since returning, starting on New Year’s Day, Damiani has produced a staggering 26 points, just shy of an average of two points per game. A huge chunk of that production came this past week, producing nine points in three contests. For his efforts he was named the OHL’s “On The Run” Player of the Week.
Speaking of big weeks, Jason Robertson continues to be nigh unstoppable for the Niagara IceDogs, picking up seven points over his past three games. He’s averaging north of two points per game since his midseason trade to Niagara, with 45 points in 20 games.
Liam Hawel scored the first hat trick of his OHL career on Saturday, adding it to the goal and assist that he had picked up previously in the week. He’s now up to 14 points in his past 10 games for the Guelph Storm.
Goaltender Jake Oettinger and his Boston University teammates are taking part in the Beanpot Hockey Tournament this Monday and next Monday, a long-running showdown between the four NCAA teams located in the Boston area. Oettinger was absolutely sensational in the semifinal last night against Northeastern University, stopping 47 of 49 shots (24 of which came in the third period). However, Northeastern prevailed in overtime on a shot that barely squeaked through. BU now plays Harvard next Monday in the consolation game.
Albin Eriksson scored two goals last week for Skelleftea in the SHL, one of them coming on a penalty shot and the other coming on a breakaway. The penalty shot goal, though, might be one that he laughs about for a long, long time. The look on his face says it all:
"Det är nog den sämsta straff jag någonsin har lagt tror jag", skrattade @skelleftea_aik:s Albin Eriksson efter sin straff i gårdagens match. Men mål blev det ialla fall #SHL #twittpuck #ishockey pic.twitter.com/VPIuKHEnPR— SHL.se (@SHLse) January 30, 2019
The Texas Stars only played once over the past seven days, in part because the AHL All Star Classic took place earlier in the week. Their only match came versus the Grand Rapid Griffins, resulting in a 5-3 defeat.
Calderone had his best game to date with Texas, picking up one goal, one assist, and four shots on net. L’Esperance had a goal and a helper himself, while Bow stopped 33 of 37 shots in the loss.