For Flint Firebiards captain Ty Dellandrea, missing the OHL playoffs this season might have been a blessing in disguise.
With no junior league postseason hockey to occupy his time, Dellandrea, the Dallas Stars’ first round draft pick in 2018, recently joined the AHL’s Texas Stars on their push for the playoffs, jumping straight into the lineup.
And despite being just 18 years of age, Dellandrea has instantly made his presence felt.
An assertive two-way center with skill, Dellandrea already looks right at home in the AHL, which is a pretty rare accomplishment for a teenager brand new to the league. Through three games Dellandrea is still searching for his first professional point, but he’s frequently been noticeable (in a good way) at both ends of the ice, creating chances and showing off his defensive maturity.
Former Defending Big D head honcho Josh Lile has been chronicling some of the young star’s exploits on his Twitter feed:
Big chance for Dellandrea pic.twitter.com/W8bGazZkaZ— Justice Josh Gritty (@JoshL1220) March 23, 2019
Dellandrea backcheck immediately after the chance. Dudes behind his own defensemen pic.twitter.com/V231MxGSHY— Justice Josh Gritty (@JoshL1220) March 23, 2019
Dellandrea running the defense as a kid in pro hockey. pic.twitter.com/ZaI4C0Pa8o— Justice Josh Gritty (@JoshL1220) March 24, 2019
Caamano to Dellandrea crashing the net. This line with Gurianov causes sheer chaos. I love them. pic.twitter.com/M5bubvHNNk— Justice Josh Gritty (@JoshL1220) March 24, 2019
Unfortunately, due to CHL-NHL transfer rules, Dellandrea’s stint in the AHL will be short-lived, as he won’t be able to play there full-time in 2019-20. He’ll be back in the OHL come the fall.
The good news, though, is that he’ll be returning there a better player because of the valuable experience that he is gaining with Texas right now. He’s also giving Stars fans an early glimpse of just what he can do and showing what they can expect from him for a long time into the future.
Speaking of Dallas prospects cutting their teeth with the Texas Stars, Dellandrea is far from alone.
Joseph Cecconi, Rhett Gardner, and the newly-signed free agent Josh Melnick have all played three games with Texas as well, and they, too, have been looking right at home.
Cecconi has been showcasing his steady defensive zone abilities and efficient puck movement. Gardner is looking a lot like Radek Faksa with his physical game and keen 200-foot awareness, and Melnick has been displaying a lot of quickness and offensive instincts.
Cecconi and Gardner with two nice passes on the same sequence pic.twitter.com/D10bKjQ9LW— Justice Josh Gritty (@JoshL1220) March 24, 2019
Yet another prospect is going to be joining the fray soon as well: goaltender Jake Oettinger.
Despite stopping 42 of 44 shots on Friday in a heroic effort, Boston University fell in overtime to Northeastern, eliminating them from the postseason. Not only was it Oettinger’s last NCAA game of the season — it was his last NCAA game ever.
On Monday morning, the Dallas Stars announced that Oettinger had signed his entry-level contract, meaning that he is leaving school after three years and turning pro.
The Dallas Stars have signed goaltender Jake Oettinger to a three-year, entry-level contract. Oettinger will report to the Texas Stars on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. https://t.co/1dOgPGyB0Q— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 25, 2019
It seems unlikely that Oettinger will actually see any game action for the remainder of Texas’ season, with Landon Bow as the team’s clear starter, Philippe Desrosiers putting in some clutch performances this season, and Colton Point also with the club, but stranger things have happened.
Texas has eight regular season games remaining, but are currently on the outside of the playoff picture, with four teams separated by one point all vying for just one playoff spot. The Stars went 1-2 last week, so they’ll need to be a lot better than that if they hope to come out of that group alive.
North American Juniors
Apparently winning the NCAA title last season wasn’t enough for Riley Tufte and his University of Minnesota Duluth club, as they have moved into the final 16 teams in their drive for back-to-back championships. The Bulldogs pulled off wins on Friday and Saturday and are currently ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation.
Jason Robertson had one goal in two games as the Niagara IceDogs sit tied 1-1 against a scrappy, underdog North Bay Battalion team in the OHL playoffs.
Picking up where he left off @DallasStars prospect and #OHL Top Scorer @JasonRob1999 finds the scoresheet with a backhand beauty in his @OHLIceDogs #OHLPlayoffs debut.#NIAGvsNB pic.twitter.com/ecdIA3TyOr— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) March 22, 2019
Overage winger Tye Felhaber has one assist in two playoff games for the Ottawa 67’s, who hold a 2-0 series lead against an outgunned Hamilton Bulldogs group.
In a battle of Stars prospects, Liam Hawel and the Guelph Storm are up 2-0 against Riley Damiani and the Kitchener Rangers. Hawel has two goals and two helpers thus far, while Damiani has recorded one assist.
What pretty passing by @Storm_City— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) March 25, 2019
Liam Hawel cashes in a second time with feeds from @Schnarzy68 and @AToropchenko as the trio combined for in Game 2 win.#OHLPlayoffs | #GUEvsKIT pic.twitter.com/ifhwUduUR1
Curtis Douglas has been held off the score sheet so far these playoffs as the Windsor Spitfires find themselves in a 2-0 deficit against the always dangerous London Knights.
Jermaine Loewen was the hero on Sunday, scoring the game-winning overtime goal to help the Kamloops Blazers even their series against the Victoria Royals.
Red Deer Rebels defenseman Dawson Barteaux and forward Brett Davis are in a difficult hole in their series against the Prince Albert Raiders, down two games to zilch versus the WHL’s best team. Barteaux has two assists in the series.
Winger Albin Eriksson and his Skelleftea teammates find themselves tied up at one game apiece in their playoff series against Djurgardens. He logged around 10 minutes of ice time in both games.
Jacob Peterson also finds himself in a 1-1 series tie as a member of Frolunda, but he hasn’t factored into much of the action, sitting on the bench as his team’s extra forward in the two games.
Oskar Back’s season is now over as BIK Karlskoga has been eliminated from their attempt to move up from Sweden’s Allsvenskan to the SHL. The good news for him, though, is that his rights are held by Farjestad, who play in the top league, so Back might be there next season anyway.
An interesting rumor has come out of Sweden recently about defenseman Jakob Stenqvist, stating that he might spend next season with Assat in Finland’s top league, the Liiga. Stars fans may remember that John Klingberg spent half of a season playing in Finland when he was still a prospect. Professional rinks in Finland are a little smaller than the ones in Sweden (and, thus, are closer to NHL size), so if Stenqvist is indeed moving countries that might be part of the reason why.