Dallas Stars are No. 21 in 2024 NHL prospect pool rankings



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Welcome to Scott Wheeler’s 2024 rankings of every NHL organization’s prospects. You can find the complete ranking and more information on the criteria here, as we count down daily from No. 32 to No. 1. The series, which includes in-depth evaluations and insight from sources on nearly 500 prospects, runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 29.

After graduating Wyatt Johnston and trading their 2023 first-round pick (which would later be used to draft Theo Lindstein) for Nils Lundkvist, the outlook for the Dallas Stars’ pool has softened over the last couple of years. Still, it’s a middle-of-the-pack group that is closer to the few pools ranked in front of it than behind it. That’s led primarily by the continued stellar play of Logan Stankoven, but there are others of varying degrees of interest as well.

2023 prospect pool rank: No. 16 (change: -5)


1. Logan Stankoven, C/LW/RW, 20 (Texas Stars)

One of my favorite prospects from the 2021 draft class, the 5-foot-8 Stankoven ranked 18th on my board. He was named the CHL’s player of the year in his post-draft season, after 135 points in 76 regular-season and playoff games, and would have had a strong case again last year after adding another 127 points in 62 regular-season and playoff games (he led the WHL playoffs in scoring even though his Blazers didn’t make the final, and did the same at the Memorial Cup) if not for Connor Bedard. That has continued this year as one of the top forwards in the AHL already as a rookie, too. (I’m confident he could play in the NHL right now, though waiting until next fall to give him a look does make a lot of practical sense for both the team and the player.)

Despite his height, he plays a bulldog, competitive, driven, forechecking style that sees him consistently beat bigger players in battles, or to loose pucks, or along the wall, shedding past checks to keep the cycle alive and stay over top of pucks.

Stankoven has a shuffled, compact stride that rattles him around the ice and requires a lot of energy exertion. But that energy defines his game. He’s strong in puck protection, leaning on his lead knee and pivoting to push under bumps. He’s a fire hydrant for his size, rarely getting knocked off balance. The wide gait to his stride also helps him side-step defensemen with a head of steam, and he has legitimate perimeter speed building quickly through his crossovers.

From the top of the faceoff circles in, Stankoven is a threatening creator who can crack a game open in a split second and who is even more dangerous the closer he gets to the hashmarks. He’s got a strong release. He can break down defenders in traffic. He’s a sneaky-good facilitator. He’s got clear power-play upside, I think he’s got some penalty-kill upside, and it’s not hard to imagine him as a third-line scorer who plays an honest game or as a high-skill top-six piece who can play the part of play-driver or play-finisher. He’s going to endear himself to fans, too. I don’t see his size as an issue. It’s an advantage in more ways than a disadvantage.

Add in superb quick-draw acumen in the faceoff circle, positional versatility, the fact that he’s the hardest worker on every shift, his pace, his consistency and how strong his game has become along the cycle/below the goal line, and there’s very little not to like. He can beat you in straight lines, beat you in stop and starts to change directions, beat you standing still with his shot or just outwork you. And he almost never gets knocked over. I have high expectations for him, and I’ve still been impressed by how easily his game worked in the AHL right away.

2. Mavrik Bourque, C, 22 (Texas Stars)

In his last season at the junior level, Bourque, who missed all of that November due to a shoulder injury, was one of his league’s best players, registering 100 points in 51 games across the regular season, a QMJHL title run and the Memorial Cup to nearly break the rare two-points-per-game mark (after impressing me in Traverse City that September and briefly in Edmonton at the canceled world juniors that December). Last year, in his rookie pro season in the AHL, he played well enough, considering his age, without exceeding expectations. This season, he has looked like he’s back into full swing in my viewings, having figured out what he needs to do to be successful at the pro game.

Bourque gets high grades for his ability to maneuver in possession, manage the puck in control, adjust to pressure to evade checks and make quick skill plays out of carries. He’s got great hands in traffic and around the net, he has started to show a real knack for improvisation, and his one-on-one skill is flashing more consistently again. All of those things have also developed, on top of a strong foundation of tools that he has always had. The trustworthiness off the puck defensively. The spatial awareness and identification of where players are on the ice (with and without the puck). The consistency of the reads. His decent forechecking ability/habits. His quick choices and his ability to play fast without necessarily being a burner. His light feet. His ability to play with the puck as a driver or play off of his linemates. His involvement level on the ice. His intensity and drive. Improved strength, which has allowed him to add a step from a standstill.

His 5-10 frame and lack of a truly defining trait may prevent him from becoming a frontline player, but he’s got upside as a potential top-nine forward. He’s equal parts slick and detailed.

3. Lian Bichsel, LHD, 19 (Rogle BK)

This has been a bit of a confounding season for Bichsel. I didn’t love his decision to bail on Texas to join a Rogle team in flux (a Rogle team which fired its successful coach and general manager shortly after he joined them). And while he’s playing good minutes there, I would have liked to see him grind through it on the smaller ice surface in the AHL.

Bichsel is a towering defenseman who moves well and showed well in the SHL two seasons ago before he suffered a concussion on a hit from behind in March of his draft year, which derailed the final stretch of his season and kept him out of U18 worlds (where he was expected to captain the Swiss). His post-draft season last year was a bit of a mixed bag as well. I’ve sometimes felt like he has struggled with his identity across levels, playing a different style from one to the next.

He’s an extremely heavy player who seems to only keep getting heavier, but because he doesn’t lumber around a ton (though he still does at times) and he’s fairly comfortable carrying the puck (both in transition and across the line), the Stars were prepared to bet on his upside in the first round. Bichsel defends the rush, the cycle and the net well, and while I’d like to see him closer quicker at times, that in-zone strength and presence will always be his calling card. Some sloppiness can develop in his game when play caves in on him and the pace ramps up, though, and I worry about just how big he already is (6-6 and 233 pounds) and some of the challenges his game and later his body might face if he ends up playing at that weight for an extended period of time.

There are games in which he looks like a beast at both ends and shows comfort skating and handling the puck for a player his size. There are others in which he looks hectic and scrambled and a step behind because he’s chasing. He’s also got work to do on his pivots. If all goes well, there’s certainly some upside to his game. But at present, it’s got some warts and he’s got some work to do. The Stars need to be prepared for that, but so does he. Taking his time will be key. If he thinks he’s more than he is, or should climb faster than the Stars think he should, that disconnect could become a problem. Development should still be his focus.

4. Christian Kyrou, RHD, 20 (Texas Stars)

One of the biggest risers in the 2022 draft, Kyrou (who was just days from being eligible for 2021 and probably wouldn’t have been picked if he was) is a smooth-skating, hard-shooting, attacking offensive defenseman who nearly led the Otters in scoring (and did in assists) in his draft year, was one of the most productive defensemen in junior hockey in a post-draft season that split between the Otters and Sting (21 goals and 86 points in a combined 78 regular-season and playoff games) and has looked pretty comfortable in the AHL after he turned 20 in September.

He plays an ambitious game that I think will start to reveal itself more and more over time in the AHL. He can hammer it. He’s capable of carrying the puck a lot and of a lot of movement off the line — and of managing some of the risks that come with those two things. Without it, he plays to close gaps early through tight man-to-man coverage and is a competitive defender who will battle and engage despite being sub-6-feet (he’s between 5-10 and 5-11, and 170 and 180 pounds). If he can defend at a passable level, he may have utility as a bottom-pairing, PP2-type, long term. He’s also helped by being a righty. He’s not a sure thing but he’s on a good path. His results at both ends in the AHL have been positive, even if they don’t yet pop.

5. Aram Minnetian, RHD, 18 (Boston College)

One of the 2023 defensemen I grew to really enjoy watching as last year progressed and he figured out how to make his game work in a more applicable sense than he had previously, Minnetian is a player I debated ranking as high as the early 40s before settling on No. 52 last year (still much higher than where he was taken, at No. 125). Minnetian took huge strides in his game last year to become an impactful two-way defender on the national program’s blue line.

At the start of the year, there were real questions about the way he processed and read the game and his play selection/decision-making within it. By year’s end, he played a decisive, confident, consistent game in all areas. This season, as a true freshman at BC, he has been a decent addition to an Eagles blue line that doesn’t share the star power of its forwards. His impact has been mostly positive, and while he’s not an impact player per se, he was always going to be the kind of player who was going to have to build toward getting a contract in his junior or senior year.

His biggest asset is his four-way mobility and the way it allows him to escape pressure, lead entries and exits, and walk across or rotate off of the line to make himself available for his teammates or find ways to place shots and passes through coverage. Because of his feet, he can also play tight, disruptive gaps defensively. When he’s been used as a penalty-killer over the years, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. He’s a gamer who will battle and shot block, plus has a bit of a physical element. He can make a lot happen on his edges and be busy/involved in a lot of what goes on on the ice. I think he’s got a chance to become an NHLer and should become a very good college defenseman.

6. Ayrton Martino, LW, 21 (Clarkson University)

Another one of my favorites in the 2021 draft class. Martino has traveled a straight line from top OJHL player at age 17 to top USHL player at 18 to good top-six college winger at 19 to Clarkson’s leading-scorer as a better-than-point-per-game sophomore at 20, and now a 21-year-old junior who is again the Golden Knights’ leading scorer (though his production hasn’t taken a step beyond a point per game).

Martino is a really strong problem-solver who never really looks like he’s in trouble because he’s constantly checking his options. He pivots in and out of traffic effortlessly and he finds teammates on the backside of coverage incredibly well. He makes a ton of small-area plays from a standstill and uses space intelligently while moving (without being the fastest skater or hardest shooter in the world). He’s got great poise with the puck and an uncanny understanding of spacing that makes him hard for defenders to disrupt.

It has been nice, this season, to see him engage himself in the play a little more without the puck as well (a prior concern). He has slowly added to his slight 5-11 frame (he’s now up to 170 pounds). He does need to add more of an element as a scorer and get to the front of the net more, but his ability to slip in and out of pockets of space and make soft skill plays all over the ice (including off of his backhand) is what defines him. I expect he’ll get signed out of college.

7. Tristan Bertucci, LHD, 18 (Flint Firebirds)

A top prospect in minor hockey, Bertucci came into his own last year in his second season in the OHL, emerging as a highly involved defenseman on both sides of the puck and registering 55 points in 70 combined regular-season and playoff games for the Firebirds (though he did have a couple of tough games in Switzerland at U18 worlds). This season, though he hasn’t necessarily taken another similar step forward, he’s wearing a letter and playing big minutes for a weaker Flint team.

That activity level shows up in an extremely eager game, with and without the puck. He joins the rush and uses his skating to involve himself in the play wherever possible offensively, activating early and often to make himself an option for his forwards down the ice. He plays in and out of a ton of give-and-gos and is learning when and where to pick his spots. He plays and moves off of his partner well.

His defensive game can come with some mistakes, but that’s largely because of how eager he is to try to close out plays and be a factor there as well. His game can be a little too busy at times, but he’s got some qualities to work with and he’s a 6-2 defenseman who can influence play all over the ice when he’s on his A-game. I expect he’ll get signed. Then it’ll be up to him to climb through the AHL and make himself a call-up option.

8. Remi Poirier, G, 22 (Texas Stars)

Poirier is a goalie who I was kind of “meh” on in his time in Gatineau. He was average-sized, his movement and mobility seemed about average, his hands seemed about average and his technical ability was good. He was consistent and would give that team a chance but he wasn’t a game-stealer. Sometimes that makeup is all you need, though. If you’re good enough, for long enough, and your tools are all at a passable level, those guys often become backups or No. 3 goalies. And after positive results between the AHL and ECHL last year as a rookie at the pro level, he’s checked another box with a decent season this year, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him in my viewings. He’s right there with Matt Murray for me in that tandem and he’s three years younger. I don’t think his ceiling is high but he’s good organizational depth.

9. Arno Tiefensee, G, 21 (Adler Mannheim)

Tiefensee is an interesting one as a double overager who was drafted in his third of eligibility after finding some pro success in Germany’s top two flights. I remember watching him play for Germany at the U20 and U18 levels and never seeing much there beyond desirable size. But he has slowly built up his foundation around that size (6-4, over 200 pounds) and has now been a solid goalie for a big Mannheim program in both the DEL and the Champions Hockey League. He’s moving better. He’s blocking and swallowing more pucks because he’s on better lines. His tracking has improved. Few squeakers are finding their way in. He’s not a top goalie prospect, but I won’t be surprised if he gets signed and gets an opportunity to climb the AHL/ECHL ranks in North America. There are some tools there, and he’s starting to fit them together.

10. Artyom Grushnikov, LHD, 20 (Texas Stars)

Grushnikov is a fascinating case study in that despite a statistical profile that virtually never translates to the NHL, he has always had some believers because of his skating, length and ability to defend. He’s got balanced posture and control in his skating, which he uses effectively gapping up. He’s an excellent backward skater. He’s got a disruptive stick and an ability to track and then close out physically (which hasn’t always been part of his game but has developed over time).

He’s got a pro build at 6-1 and a playing weight in the 190s. He has just enough poise and vision with the puck to advance play and occasionally involve himself (he started to activate more late in his junior career, and while that hasn’t continued in his rookie season in the AHL, I do think there are more opportunities for him to use his smooth skating and influence play than he realizes). He has defended well for a 20-year-old rookie in the AHL. Time will tell if his defending is high-end enough to carry him into a No. 6/7 role, but the Stars clearly have belief in him or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the second round, signed him and bypassed the ECHL for the AHL.

11. Gavin White, RHD, 21 (Texas Stars)

Drafted as a late-blooming overager after losing a season to the pandemic, White was a really solid two-way junior defenseman who stepped up big for the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs and OHL champion Peterborough Petes in back-to-back seasons. Early last season, before the trade from the Bulldogs to the Petes, he was the team’s No. 1 D for a time as they started their rebuild (following the graduations of Arber Xhekaj and Nathan Staios) as well and really took charge as a dominant two-way defenseman who drove results when he was on the ice on a team that struggled without him out there. This season, I’ve mostly liked what I’ve seen out of him as he makes the adjustment to the AHL. He’s a 6-foot, 196-pound righty who skates well, has added weight over the last couple of years, plays a mature game and makes things happen without overextending. I’m not sold on his NHL upside, but he should be good organizational depth for sure, and there are some who believe he might become a fine third-pairing type.

12. Angus MacDonell, C, 18 (Mississauga Steelheads)

A pest in the truest sense, MacDonell is a hard-to-play-against player who has built a bit of a reputation for himself as Brad Marchand-like in the OHL over the last couple of years, while still scoring at a point-per-game rate. He was captain of the Toronto Marlboros and a first-round pick into the OHL, he’s the captain of the Steelheads now, and he plies his trade as an energy guy who finishes every check, chases down every puck, walks a fine line on the discipline side and has a nose for the net and sneaky skill in the game’s dirty areas. Those who watched him closely last season weren’t surprised when he was the center who moved up Canada’s lineup when its second line struggled to get going at U18 Worlds. His ceiling is as a fourth-line guy at the next level, and his sixth-round draft slot reflects that, but coaches are always going to like him, his potential role is clear, and I wouldn’t put it past him to just work his way into the conversation someday.

13. Antonio Stranges, LW, 22 (Texas Stars)

Stranges is one of the game’s most confounding prospects. In many ways, I’m drawn to his game for the challenge it poses as an evaluator as a result. His unique, often over-reliant heel-to-heel skating patterns drew people in but can create a bias if you let it, because of how much you notice him. His hands can wow you once a game but that, too, can lull you into overlooking all of the other times he — in combination with his skating — puts himself into tough spots or doesn’t have the tools to drive play at the pro level.

And even as players begin to come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, his game doesn’t really fit into an all-encompassing projection. His hands are undeniable, the way he opens up his hips to rotate around sticks is fun to watch and absolutely does help players see the interior easier. But he also strays to the perimeter a little too much, and the outcomes and effectiveness don’t always align with some of the flash.

I have liked how his game has rounded out on both sides of the puck the last couple of years, but it’s just hard to imagine him as more than a fun tweener. He makes some high-end plays but he also often leaves you wanting more. More consistency has come but I’m not sure it’s enough. The good news is, he still has one more year on his ELC after this one, so they’ve still got more time before they have to make a decision on him. Between now and then, he’s just got to keep proving he’s more than a one-trick pony.

14. Matthew Seminoff, RW, 20 (Texas Stars)

Due to his later birthday, last year’s post-draft season was Seminoff’s fourth in the WHL, which has allowed him to make the jump to pro already. He has progressed steadily over the years, too, finishing last season with 106 points in 80 games combined between the regular season, the WHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup with the host Blazers (though he was more of an impact guy than a true star on that loaded Blazers team up front).

Some scouts question his upside, given his good but not standout production, as well as the time he spent playing with Stankoven for parts of his last two seasons in Kamloops, but there’s also something to be said about a player who can play alongside Stankoven. There’s a lot to like about Seminoff’s versatile game. I think he’s capable of maybe working his way through the AHL into a depth role if everything breaks right. Coaches and staff respect him for his honest, complete, hardworking game. He’s fairly sturdy, wide base to his stride and good balance around his 5-10 frame. And while he’s not the fastest, biggest, strongest or most talented play, he finds his way onto scoring chances and plays well off of his linemates. He hasn’t looked out of place in a depth role in the AHL this season in my viewings, either.

15. George Fegaras, RHD, 19 (Cornell University) 

The OJHL Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Star in his draft year two years ago, Fegaras stepped into the USHL and immediately became a solid two-way guy on a poor Lumberjacks team last year and has fit in as a freshman at Cornell this year without being a standout. He nearly made my top 100 for the 2022 draft, and while I felt the third round was probably one or two rounds early, he’s a 6-2, pro-built defender who skates well, manages pucks, gets his shots through hard and low and defends with uncharacteristic polish for a player who has as little experience as he does. He’s worth keeping an eye on to see if he emerges as a rock-solid two-way defender in college as an upperclassman.


The Tiers

As always, each of my prospect pool rankings is broken down into team-specific tiers in order to give you a better sense of the talent proximity from one player to the next (a gap that is sometimes minute and in other cases quite pronounced).

The Stars’ pool breaks down into four tiers. They are: 1, 2-3, 4-7, 8-15.

Also considered were signed forwards Francesco Arcuri and Chase Wheatcroft, Ottawa 67’s forward Brad Gardiner and Russian goaltender Maxim Mayorov — the latter three of which I nearly swapped onto the back of the list, and I could envision them being on next year’s list.

Rank

  

Player

  

Pos.

  

Age

  

Team

  

1

Logan Stankoven

C/RW/LW

20

Texas

2

Mavrik Bourque

C

22

Texas

3

Lian Bichsel

LHD

19

Texas

4

Christian Kyrou

RHD

20

Texas

5

Aram Minnetian

RHD

18

Boston College

6

Ayrton Martino

LW

21

Clarkson

7

Tristan Bertucci

LHD

18

Flint

8

Remi Poirier

G

22

Texas

9

Arno Tiefensee

G

21

Mannheim

10

Artyom Grushnikov

LHD

20

Texas

11

Gavin White

RHD

21

Texas

12

Angus MacDonell

C

18

Mississauga

13

Antonio Stranges

LW

22

Texas

14

Matthew Seminoff

RW

20

Texas

15

George Fegaras

RHD

19

Cornell

(Photo of Logan Stankoven: George Walker / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)





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