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Dallas Stars Daily Links: How Jason Robertson Became The Hero The Stars Need

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Yes, it’s amazing, and no, it’s not a coincidence. Plus, the rise of the Predators, the latest on Aaron Ekblad, and more.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Robertson has emerged as a breakout star in an otherwise woe-beset Dallas Stars season. The 21-year-old forward has grown from a second-round pick, with a high scoring upside but questionable skating, into a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate. And the timing is no accident.

The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf has chronicled Robertson’s transformation into the guy they call Robo, which began when he left the Stanley Cup playoffs bubble and turned to former coach Tommy Mannino and personal trainer James Gonzales. After losing 21 pounds and undertaking a training regimen usually reserved for running backs, he emerged as a stronger player with a new and explosive first step:

“For the decade that I’ve known him, this is the year that it was so serious,” Mannino said. “He’s always been committed but this year he took it to another level.”

The hard work is paying off. In 27 games this season, Robertson has 21 points, second-most among NHL rookies to Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, who has 27 points (in five more games than Robertson). Robertson has earned a place in the Calder Trophy discussion thanks to the incremental improvements.

It really is possible for potentially underrated prospects to improve their skating – but we already knew that thanks to a guy named Jamie Benn. When a player has the natural talent to become a dominant force on his junior-league team, he could develop habits that serve him poorly in the NHL. Mannino thought of that, too:

Mannino said many of workouts were about Robertson’s skating, but a good chunk were dedicated to increasing productivity in the dirty areas, specifically along the boards and in front of the net. Each drill they executed, whether it was shooting from the top of the circle or the boards, ended the same way, with Robertson stopping at the net and then backchecking out to the red line.

“Every training session, multiple reminders of stop at the net with your stick on the ice,” Mannino said. “That’s not rocket science. It doesn’t take a board to draw the Xs and Os up. It takes somebody making the decision that I’m going to stop at the net with my stick on the ice because that’s where the pucks are going to be. That’s the difference-maker when everybody is skilled and everybody is talented.”

There’s much more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]


Stars Stuff

As it turned out, Robo was the only high point of yesterday’s 4-1 shellacking by the Florida Panthers.

Here’s the latest on Aaron Ekblad, who left the ice on a stretcher during the second period.

You are here, probably.

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Finally

We can all use a little extra Jake Oettinger right now. Enjoy,