Even though they only won once in their final three-game series, the real story of how the 2021 Texas Stars season concluded is about the future, not the past.
Coming into this trio of contests, on the road against the Iowa Wild, there was no uncertainty about how this year was going to end: no playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no divisional title within reach, no particular bragging rights about what ultimately was a middling win-loss record.
Rather, the desired outcome of these games was the hope of brighter things to come down the road — and with this, the team delivered.
Defenseman Thomas Harley, 19, scored three goals, bumping his season total up to eight, the highest among all AHL defensemen.
Center Mavrik Bourque, 19, scored his first professional goal and added three other assists after joining the team following the conclusion of his QMJHL season.
With three points, Riley Damiani, 21, wrapped up an excellent, front-to-back consistent season by winning the AHL’s scoring lead for a rookie, with 36 points in 36 games.
After not playing a single hockey game during the 2020 calendar year due to a mix of injury and the pandemic, winger Adam Mascherin, 22, scored his team-leading 18th goal, while also holding his place in the Top 10 of league scoring, with 34 points in 37 games.
Ty Dellandrea, trying to show that he deserves to be back up in the NHL next season, scored a goal.
That the games ended 3-1 Wild on May 12, 5-4 Wild on May 14, and then 3-2 Texas on May 15 is still notable, just not the main priority at play.
The Dallas Stars find themselves at a bit of a transition point, as an organization. The old guard of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg, Ben Bishop and others are still around, but a new young core of Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, Denis Gurianov and Jake Oettinger made their presence felt in 2021, showing glimpses of what the future may hold. But knowing that they’re not alone, that reinforcements are getting closer and closer to arriving (Dellandrea will probably be in Dallas next season, Harley might be, one or two others could conceivably make the jump after a great camp and preseason), can give team’s fanbase added senses of both relief and optimism.
The future of hockey in Texas is sure shining big and bright right about now.
Other odds and ends
- With the conclusion of the Texas Stars’ season, this will be the last of these prospect updates until the fall, as pretty much everything is now wrapped up prospects-wise. Only two of the organization’s prospects will still have games to play before summer, and that’s simply not enough to put together one of these roundups. They’ll return in the fall.
- Who are those two prospects who still have hockey left to play? Oettinger and defenseman Ryan Shea, who were added to USA Hockey’s roster for the upcoming World Championships. Oettinger’s invitation is not a surprise whatsoever, given that the country usually brings a healthy dose of youngsters to this event, though Shea’s is. His rookie professional season was a bit rocky, never quite finding his ideal spot in the Texas lineup. Oettinger will be worth following at this event — not only should he start a number of games, these sorts of events can add a little extra spice to a young player’s development, broadening their perspective of the sport and providing them with some valuable experience.
- Draft content is coming. Not right away, but soon. Keep an eye out for it!
For a full database of the organization’s prospects and their stats, check out the Stars’ “In the System” page on Elite Prospects.