Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dallas Stars Prospects Win Prospect Tournament, Shine Light on Future


*Image Note: notice Stu Barnes in his first gig as an assistant coach on the top right in the suit.*

There is something about the future that excites people. For some it is the prospect of graduation and that budding internship and job with Bleacher Report, for others it is the prospect of next season. Cub’s fans are long notorious for retorts of “I can’t wait till next season…” but in hockey such things are different.

Some hockey fans follow the offseason with a watchful eye, analyzing draft picks and free agency like a general manager in their own home. Others however ignore the season placing full faith in the team’s leadership and await the finished product.

There is no waiting in hockey; hockey is much like a defensive breakout and return to defense, an ever constant transition. This season saw youngsters like Matt Niskanen learn the ropes from veterans like Sergei Zubov, youngsters like Brenden Morrow blossom into the right of veteran and a veteran like Stu Barnes assume his role as a coach and leader behind the bench. Hockey more than any other sport is much like life, there is only death when it is finally seen as the last step.

Late last night another step in that chain became visible, a needed link in the chain to this cycle of hockey life. As teams begin to evaluate young talent acquired over the summer many hold prospect camps, to see who among them is truly the best.

Others take part in prospect tournaments, where the biggest winners are the prospects and the coaching staff now able to accurately evaluate the talent. Question is, if a trophy is played for in said tournament does it matter?

For the Stars their prospect teams 8-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers can only be a sign of good things to come. Likely both teams gained new knowledge on insight into young prospects and their ability’s to play with the parent club.

First, let me say the Thrashers went through some deeply talented prospect teams to play the Stars. The Thrashers beat the Red Wings in a shootout to move on; showing the immense talent this club has in its future. To Thrasher fans the future is bright; there is a light at the end of the tunnel so the future can continue to be dreamt of.

To Stars fans who know the future is now, don’t forget to keep a watchful eye on the future as well. Likely many of the names profiled below will be mentioned in American Airlines Center either this, or in following years.

The Stars Prospects held a 4-0 record, scoring a total of 20 goals. James Neal a player who could easily be seen in Dallas this fall scored nine points, and consistently led the Stars prospect team, while also leading the league in points. Jamie Benn another young-star scored a league high five goals.

"We’ve got a good group of young guys, and we clicked pretty good," said Benn in the Stars press release. "I think that was a big key for us. We knew that if we’d have team success, we’d have individual success, so we concentrated on the team, and that paid off for us."

Stars co-general manager Les Jackson in the press release said the team adopted an aggressive offensive attitude during the tournament.

"We were trying to push it, for sure," Jackson said. "I think we had the talent and the skill, and those were the strengths of our team, so we wanted to play to our strengths."

Dallas phenom Fabian Brunnstrom showed no signs of letting down expectations adjusting well from a disappointing game one and helping lead the Stars come the final game. Brunnstrom scored on a rebound from defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy to ignite the team in the third period of game four.

Drawing more attention than Brunnstrom was the always dangerous Neal, who drew amazing praise from Jackson and the rest of the front office. "Neal was fantastic," Jackson said in the press release. "He’s determined to make our team, and he played like that every shift."

The impact on training camp: A lot of players drew praise from the Stars front office during this tournament, then again can anyone complain by the results of this talented squad? Brunnstrom is expected still to make the big team out of training camp.

As of now he is listed on the big team’s third line and Jackson as well as Hull have agreed expectations are not too high for him. Both have mentioned the Stars will be patient with his adjustment to his placement on the parent squad.

Another potential parent team maker is James Neal. How about this kid? Leading the league in points and he was a constant pulse for the Stars. He will certainly be a name to look for in the training camp news. I won’t set any expectations for him for this season, but he certainly seems capable of being on the big team for October.

Ivan Vishnevskiy according to the press release is also ready for a successful jump, but to the NHL. In recent months I have heard and read nothing but good things about this young defenseman. I give him 2 years and he will likely be a stable blue-liner for the parent club.

Another name to watch for is the captain of the prospect team, Raymond Sawada. He led the team well and received a lot of praise in previous press releases. Other then that, I don’t have enough information on him to input any expectations on where he will end up at the end of camp. Likely camp will hold the answers on his placement for this season.

Another prospect to keep an eye on is Jamie Benn, listed above was the goal scoring leader of the tournament. Other than this information I know very little about him.

*Note: The training camp roster has been listed under the roster at the Stars website, be sure to check it out.*

Links to DallasStars.com review of Prospect Tournament games:

Stars down Minnesota, 3-2; Will Face Atlanta Wednesday In Final
Stars Pull Out Come-From-Behind Win In Second Game
Stars Win Traverse City Debut over St. Louis, 4-3

Original Source and Image: Staff, Dallas Stars. "Dallas Takes Traverse City Title." Dallas Stars Website 17 Sept. 2008 18 Sept. 2008

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