The Dallas Stars knew they were going to have to get through a ton of adversity to have success this season. After dealing with a laundry list of injuries in last years’ playoffs, they were going to be starting the season without their superstars Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop due to offseason surgeries. The injuries continued to pile up from there as key players were knocked out of the lineup every night.
The Stars were forced to call upon many young players to step into large roles very early in their careers. One of those players is 21-year-old rookie Jason Robertson. Not only has Robertson stepped in but he has become the Stars’ most consistent forward on a nightly basis.
Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson is Playing Beyond His Years
Robertson started the season off fairly slow and was not much of a factor in the games he was playing. However, after being a healthy scratch for five straight games in February to watch from the press box like many young players have done before, he has been nearly unstoppable.
He has tallied points in nearly every game including four multi-point nights and his career-high four-point night vs Chicago. That game along with the previous game in Nashville were perfect examples of the potential impact that he could have on this team.
Against Nashville, the Stars trailed 3-0 in the third period when Robertson assisted on one goal, scored the late tying goal, and then scored his first shootout goal. The Stars did not complete the comeback, falling in the shootout but Robertson had his fingerprints all over the comeback that allowed the Stars to steal a point. He followed that up with a dominating performance in Chicago recording four assists in a 6-1 Stars win where he was all over the ice.
The impressive play continued all throughout March as he led all rookies in scoring with 16 points in 17 games. That shot him up to second in rookie scoring with 24 points, trailing only Kapril Kaprisov in Minnesota in what is now a much tighter race for the Calder trophy for the leagues’ best rookie.
"“He’s an offensive player, talented and very confident in his abilities,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “Robo’s got tremendous offensive skills and vision, and the confidence to back it up. We have to make sure he is with the right players because the defensive side of the game will improve, but, again, we are asking an awful lot from these kids.”"
Robertson found instant chemistry with Roope Hintz and those two have been joined on the top line by veteran Joe Pavelski which has been the Stars’ best line every night.
As Bowness said, his defensive game will continue to improve but he is miles beyond what they imagined he would be at this point.
Robertson has shown vision, speed, and poise all rare for young players. The Stars were blown away by the calm and poise of rookie netminder Jake Oettinger as he filled in for the injured Ben Bishop early in the season and Robertson has shown those same attributes.
"“Going over the film for these past couple weeks and talking to different people and seeing how much more time I actually have, certainly gives me more confidence while I have the puck knowing that I can hold on to it and make more plays,” Robertson said a couple of weeks back,” Robertson said."
On top of all of that offensive skill, Robertson has also shown that he can be a complete player. He has been the Star’s best player along the boards winning puck battles and maintaining possession in the offensive zone. He protects the puck extremely well and battles to get it back when he does not have it.
"“My confidence comes not just from succeeding offensively, but being a complete pro on both sides of the ice,” he said. “My confidence comes from how much I am playing. I am playing a good amount of ice time, so I know I am doing pretty good, I think, and trying to be the best player I can be whether that be offensively or defensively. Bones puts a lot of trust in me because he plays me quite a bit during these times, but I am just trying to make the most out of it and give our team the best chance to win.”"
Timing is Key
During a season where the Stars have been decimated by injuries nearly every night, Robertson’s success could not have come at a better time. Dallas is putting a ton of trust and responsibility on their young players because well, they do not have any other choice.
Aside from all of the injuries, key players Jamie Benn and Denis Gurianov have had down years offensively while their hottest player, Joe Pavelski, has also slowed a bit lately.
For the Stars to have any chance to make the postseason this year, they will need their young players to play beyond their years. So far, Robertson, Oettinger, and Dellandrea have shown that they are ready for the challenge.
They still have a lot to learn as expected at such a young age but they have shown that they are further along than many expected.
"“As long as they get better, they’ll make the team better going forward. They’re the future of the team, and they’re going to help us get into the playoffs.” Bowness said about his young players."
The future looks bright in Dallas without a doubt but their future needs to also be their present if they have dreams of another playoff run in 2021.