The Dallas Stars are a very young team. Among their group of core players are Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, Jason Robertson, Miro Heiskanen, Jason Dickinson, Joel Kiviranta, and Jake Oettinger. All of these players are under the age of 25 and are already important players on the roster. Add to that the fact that most of the remaining core players are no older than 30 and this team looks to be built to win for years to come.
As we drift away from the disappointment of the 2021 season, we begin to look at what the roster may look like when the puck drops in October. While we will dig into this much deeper throughout the offseason, I think it is important for Stars fans to know which young prospects may have a chance of cracking the lineup in 2021-2022.
For this article, we will skip out on players that have established themselves in the NHL such as Robertson and Oettinger. Instead, we will focus more on those who have barely scratched the surface, if at all, at the highest level. As we have seen with countless young players in recent years, it no longer takes many years for players to become regulars at the NHL level.
Dallas Stars’ Prospects that could crack the 2021-2022 lineup
1. Ty Dellandrea
It was an up and down first season for Ty Dellandrea in 2021. He played in 26 games for Dallas and was understandably inconsistent. Early on, the 20-year-old looked to be exactly what the Stars needed as his high energy and ferocious play led to many caused turnovers, big hits, and even his first NHL goals.
However, as the season went on, he was moved back to the Taxi Squad and eventually down to the AHL.
Rick Bowness believed that his potential was great but he simply needed to play more professional hockey to further improve his awareness and hockey IQ. While his energy is a great addition to any team, he needed to be able to better pick and choose when to use it in order to be a more effective player.
Because of his eager young legs, he often found himself out of position, something that will improve greatly over time. With his hustle and defensive-minded approach, he has a great chance to be a consistent player on the Stars roster going forward and the coaches believe that he is a huge part of their future.
“He works so hard every game, and in the shootouts in practice he is very good. He gives you 100 percent in every game, and you know that,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “As a 20-year-old kid, he would benefit playing a little bit in Austin, but that’s not going to happen, and give him great credit. He is playing hard, and he hits everybody, and he gives you everything he can every shift. Is there inexperience showing? Absolutely, but that’s to be expected. He is all heart and is a great teammate, and he gives you everything he can every shift and that’s all you can ask as a coach.”
2. Thomas Harley
If you have been a fan of the Stars over the past few seasons, you have undoubtedly heard the name, Thomas Harley.
He was drafted 18th overall in 2019 and has been an exciting prospect ever since. The 19-year-old has one career NHL game in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round Robin against the Colorado Avalanche. Similar to many of the Stars’ top prospects, he was able to travel to the Edmonton bubble and gain a great amount of experience practicing and staying with the big club.
He played in the OHL in 2019-2020 and was expected to do so again until the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That allowed Harley to play in the AHL for the Texas Stars which ended up being a blessing in disguise for him.
He ranked second in the league among defensemen with 25 points in 28 games as it was immediately clear that he belonged. His skill set is similar to that of Heiskanen and his potential only seems to grow the more that he plays. He is a bigger (6-3), left-shot defenseman that can skate well, and he proved this year that he is ready to make the jump in the near future.
“For Thomas to have the opportunity to play in the American Hockey League, I think, was huge for his development,” Stars General Manager Jim Nill said. “He’s another guy who took advantage of the situation brought about by the pandemic, and I think it was really the best thing for him.”
3. Riley Damiani
Damiani has been a scoring machine since being drafted in the fifth round by Dallas in 2018. He racked up 85 points in 58 games in his first season in the OHL, stayed hot with 78 points in his second season, and led the Texas Stars with 36 points in 36 games in 2021. While his numbers are impressive, the most impressive thing has been his consistency.
He was a force in the AHL and earned himself a spot on the All-Rookie Team last season. Dallas is in desperate need of a boost to their scoring and Damiani can provide that. While it will be a huge loss if Blake Comeau and Andrew Cogliano become free agents this summer, Damiani is the exact type of player who can fill that role with a more offensive-minded approach. He is capable of playing a two-way style of game and could be just what Dallas needs this season.
“He’s got great hockey sense and he’s very competitive,” Jim Nill said. “His stature physically is not big, but his heart is very big. He doesn’t back down from anything, and he’s a dangerous player.”
4. Adam Mascherin
Mascherin is what hockey fans like to call a pure goal-scorer. He had 18 goals in 37 games for the Texas Stars in the AHL last season and showed that he knows how to put the puck in the net at the professional level. What is more impressive is that this came after a long recovery from a shoulder injury that kept him out most of the 2019-2020 season. He not only rehabbed his injury but similar to Jason Robertson, he slimmed down and changed his habits to help him become even more of a threat on the ice.
At 22-years-old, Mascherin still has a lot to learn, especially on the defensive side of the puck. However, he has proven that he can score goals at every level so far and is sure to get a long look at the Dallas training camp this September.
“He has to make plays moving his feet, and I think it’s important he embraces all the positive changes he made, getting lighter, getting faster,” Texas Stars coach Neil Graham said. “Those things are all great. Now he has to stay the course with that. That’ll help his consistency moving forward as you look at the next level and Dallas camp coming up.”
The future looks very bright for a Stars team that seems to be very close to contending for a Stanley Cup. Do not forget, this team was within two wins of their first Stanley Cup in 20 years in 2020, and did so with many key players missing or playing through injury.
If Dallas can get their roster back from injury and add a few young prospects to help them out, this team could be very dangerous going forward.