Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 Dallas Stars Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
2021 Dallas Stars Prospects
Stars Season and Off-Season
After reaching the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, the Stars missed the playoffs in 2021. Injuries to key players such as Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov, and Ben Bishop were certainly a key factor in the narrow playoff miss. However, extra ice time had benefits with Roope Hintz having a breakout season and Jason Robertson finishing second in Calder Trophy voting. Still, the season wasn’t good enough and the Stars have made changes this summer. Unfortunately, the team lost Jamie Oleksiak in the expansion draft. The Stars signed free agents Ryan Suter, Braden Holtby, and Luke Glendening to add some additional veteran presence to the lineup. They also have a number of prospects knocking on the door to become full-time contributors at the NHL level.
2021 NHL Draft Picks (A-): Picks: Wyatt Johnston, Logan Stankovan, Artem Grushnikov, Ayrton Martino, Justin Ertel, Conner Roulette, Jack Bar, Jacob Holmes, Francesco Arcuri, Albert Sjoberg
Graduations: Jason Robertson, Joel Kiviranta, Rhett Gardiner (age),
2021 Dallas Stars Top Prospect: Thomas Harley
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born August 19th, 2001 — Syracuse, New York
Height 6’3″ — Weight 190 lbs [191 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 1st round, #18 overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Harley played for Team Canada at the World Juniors, picking up one goal in the tournament and winning a silver medal. With the OHL not getting off the ground, he joined Texas in the AHL. Harley scored eight goals and 25 points in 38 games. It was an extremely impressive season for the 19-year-old.
Harley is a strong two-way defender with good size and skating ability. He has very good speed in both directions. His first few steps and acceleration are outstanding. Harley uses this ability to change speeds to move the puck out of his zone and make plays through the neutral zone. Combine this with his good agility, edgework, and pivots and his skating allows Harley to play a strong game in both ends of the ice. He can beat defenders off the rush, as well as walk the line in the offensive zone to open up shooting and passing lanes. His balance is good and he is strong on the puck. This should improve as he continues to add muscle to his frame.
Harley makes a good first pass out of the zone and can start the transition game. He handles the puck well, especially while moving at top speed. This helps him to rush the puck out of his end and to lead the play in the neutral zone. Harley is also willing to take chances and join the rush as a trailer. He is also able to make smart plays with the puck in the offensive zone. Harley is a creative player. He has good vision and sees plays developing in the offensive zone. He can make passes through tight areas and sets up teammates for good scoring opportunities.
Harley has really improved his shot from when we first saw him in the OHL Over the last three years he has put up a lot of goals and those improvements are the reason why. His slap shot has gotten significantly harder and he uses patience and his agility to open up shooting lanes and get it on the net. Harley also keeps his shot low, allowing teammates to get to the net for screens, tip-ins, and rebounds. Harley also likes to let his wrist shot go. He can use it as a trailer on the rush, or sneak in to the top of the circles and get it off. Harley’s shot is hard and accurate and features a quick release.
Harley is a solid defensive defenceman. He keeps good gap control and forces defenders to the outside. Harley forces attackers into bad shooting positions and uses his long reach to cut down passing lanes. However, especially quick and shifty forwards can sometimes give him problems one-on-one off the rush, and he must get a little quicker to handle them better. He also has good positioning and reads the play well, helping him to be especially strong in his own end for a 17-year-old. He does not seem to play a physical game at this point despite the fact that he has a good frame. Harley is willing to battle in the corners and in front of the net, but don’t expect too many big hits from him. He needs to get stronger and add muscle to that frame.
Harley will need some time to iron out the defensive wrinkles and continue to get stronger. He has the potential to develop into a strong offensive defenceman, quarterbacking a power play and playing big minutes if he can hit his ceiling. While certainly not a sure thing, there is a chance he could become a top-pairing defender in his prime. With Dallas’ strong blueline expect him to spend a season in the AHL this year. He could be called up if injuries hit. Full-time duty in 2022-23 is a possibility.
#2 Prospect: Jake Oettinger
Goaltender — shoots Left – catches Left
Born December 18th, 1998 — Lakeville, Minnesota
Height 6’5″ — Weight 225 lbs [196 cm/102 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 1st round, #26 overall, at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
With Bishop’s injury, Oettinger split the net with Anton Khudobin in Dallas last season. In 29 games he put up an 11-8-7 record with one shutout. He also had a .911 save-percentage and a 2.36 goals-against-average.
Skating and Talent Analysis
Oettinger is a solid skater in the crease. He can come out to challenge shooters but also back up quickly and take away the net when they try to make a deke. Oettinger could work on his positioning though. He sometimes can get beat when he is slightly off and gives the shooter a bit too much net to look at. Oettinger also gets out of his net quickly to get loose pucks. Oettinger can get the breakout started with a solid first pass. He gets side-to-side quickly in the net, allowing him to make saves on cross-ice passes and set up quickly for shots. His puck tracking ability is also very good. He has the athletic ability to make a save, and quickly get himself back into position and be square to the shooter on rebounds.
Coming in at 6-foot-5, Oettinger has the ideal size that NHL scouts are looking for now. His size and ability to cut down angles give shooters very little net to look at when coming in. Even when he is down in his butterfly, his shoulders are up at cross-bar height. Most young goaltenders really need to work on their rebound control and while Oettinger still can make improvements in this area, he is already pretty well advanced for his age. His butterfly and quick legs take away the bottom of the net extremely well. It is rare that he is beaten by a low shot. Oettinger is also very good up top, with a quick glove hand and solid blocker side.
Oettinger shows maturity in the crease. He never seems to get flustered, no matter what is happening around him. He shows this cool, calm demeanour after scrambles around the net. Oettinger also rebounds quickly after letting in a goal, not allowing things to spiral out of control. He focuses on making the next save, not analyzing the ones that got away. It is easy to see that Oettinger has been a stabilizing influence for teammates at the college and AHL levels and should grow into that at the NHL level as well.
Given how well Oettinger played for Dallas last season, it is a bit strange that the Stars went out and signed Braden Holtby. They also still have Khudobin and hope that Ben Bishop will be able to play this year. While Oettinger is the goalie of the future, the Stars seem to have him slated for another year in the AHL this year. However, Holtby struggled the last few years and Bishop’s injuries make him a real question mark. If they can’t bounce back, Oettinger is just a phone call away.
#3 Prospect: Ty Delandrea
Centre — shoots Right
Born July 21, 2000 — Port Perry, Ontario
Height 6’1″ — Weight 190 lbs [185 cm/86 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 1st round, #13 Overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.
With the start of North American season delayed, Dellandrea started the year with JYP in the Finnish Liiga. He put up two goals and three assists in six games. When leagues did get started on this side of the pond, he split time between the AHL and NHL. In eight games with Texas, he put up two goals and six points. Dellandrea also added three goals and five points in 26 games with Dallas.
Dellandrea is an excellent skater. He has the top-end speed necessary to pull away from defenders and create odd-man rushes. His quick feet give him excellent acceleration, and he reaches that top speed in just a few strides. Dellandrea has the agility and edgework to make quick cuts and changes in direction. However, he could work on his power and balance. He can be knocked off the puck a bit too much, and he could improve his work along the boards and in front of the net with a bit better balance.
Dellandrea scores goals with an excellent wrist and snapshot. He has the hockey IQ to find soft spots in the opposing defence and gets his shot off from the high slot. His shots are powerful and accurate. He also has a good backhand. Dellandrea gets to the dirty areas of the ice, where he has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections and pounce on rebounds. He could be even more effective there with a bit more strength, as this would help him to establish a position in front of the net. He goes there often without the puck and provides a good screen in front of the goalie.
As a playmaker, Dellandrea plays a very straightforward, north-south game. He makes quick smart, passes to teammates. Dellandrea is not the type of player to make a number of fancy moves or stickhandling with the play or to try to thread the needle on a dangerous pass. Instead, he makes the smart play, keeps the puck moving, and looks to maintain possession down low. This is another area where he needs a bit more lower-body strength to dominate down low.
Dellandrea works hard in the defensive end. His skating and strong hockey IQ help to make him a good penalty killer, as he cuts down passing lanes and creates turnovers. He backchecks hard in his own zone and looks to support the defence down low. However, his lack of size and strength is a limiting factor here. He can be overpowered by opponents. This could improve in the coming years if he is able to add more muscle to his frame.
After a number of games in the NHL last year, Dellandrea heads to camp looking to earn his spot in the Stars lineup. The Stars would love to see him take the third line centre spot, or perhaps a year on the wing, but in the top-six. He will need to prove that his offence can translate at the NHL level though.
#4 Prospect: Mavrik Bourque
Centre — shoots Right
Born January 8th, 2002 — Plessisville, Quebec
Height 5’11” — Weight 185 lbs [180 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 1st round, #30 overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Bourque was dominant in the QMJHL, scoring 19 goals and 43 points in just 28 games. He also added six points in five playoff games for Shawinigan. In the middle of the QMJHL season, while the league was on hold for COVID, he played six games for Texas, putting up five points.
Bourque’s skating is highlighted by his edgework and agility. He moves well laterally and is able to make quick cuts and changes of direction. This helps Bourque to avoid defenders, both with and without the puck. Bourque is also strong on his skates. He is a bit undersized but has a strong lower body and low centre of gravity. This gives him very good balance and makes him hard to knock off the puck. Bourque is able to put his body between the defender and the puck when he works down low, protecting the puck and extending offensive zone time. Bourque could use some work on his speed though. He has above-average top-end speed, and his first few steps and acceleration are decent. However, given his lack of size, one would like to see him be a bit more explosive.
Bourque is an undersized forward who plays an excellent puck protection game. Bourque controls the puck down low with his shifty skating ability and good puckhandling skills. He can avoid defenders with his feet and also uses his quick hands to open up passing and shooting lanes in order to create scoring opportunities. He shows high hockey IQ for his age and makes smart plays both with and without the puck. Bourque is very good at running a give-and-go type play, getting to open space after he dishes the puck to a teammate. He has good vision and can make smart passes to his teammates. His ability to work down low extends plays and when his teammates get open, he can hit them with a quick pass.
Bourque’s bread and butter are as a goal scorer though. He can score in a variety of ways with an excellent wrist shot, strong snapshot and very-good one-timer. He even generates power on his backhand. Bourque’s quick hands allow him to get off a quick release as well as to change his angle just before shooting the puck. This helps to confuse goaltenders. Bourque also has the soft hands to finish in close to the net with a deke, deflection or banging in a rebound.
Bourque’s game is extremely well-developed for his age, including his play in his own end of the rink. He is a willing and effective back-checker and provides support to the defence down low. Bourque is strong positionally and anticipates well. He uses an active stick to break up passes and steal the puck off of opposing players. Bourque has been used on the penalty kill by Shawinigan, Team Canada, and at the Top Prospects Game. However, his size can be an issue in 5v5 hockey. He has trouble defending against bigger, stronger players working the cycle game. He also can have issues being outmuscled along the boards and in front of the net. Bourque will need to bulk up and improve these areas of his game. He is decent in the face-off circle, but this is another area he can improve before heading to the pro game.
Bourque has a strong all-around game. While his size is a bit of a concern, there is no reason that he can’t overcome it and still play a top-six role in the NHL. He will need to improve his skating and strength to play centre at the next level though. A move to the wing at the pro level might be in his future. Bourque will need another year in the QMJHL before he is ready to make the jump.
#5 Prospect: Logan Stankoven
The Stars drafted Stankoven with the 47th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did two in-depth scouting reports on Stankoven. As no games have been played since those reports; we will not repeat them. You can check out the reports here and here.
#6 Prospect: Riley Damiani
Centre — shoots Right
Born March 20th, 2000 — Mississauga, Ontario
Height 5’10” — Weight 170 lbs [178 cm/77 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 5th round, #137 overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft.
Damiani had an impressive first pro season. He scored 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points in 36 games with the Texas Stars.
Damiani is an undersized forward who skates well. He has a nice stride, which gives him good speed and acceleration. He can beat a defender wide and accelerate to the net. His ability to change speeds is a weapon that he can use to beat defenders both with and without the puck. Damiani also has very agility and edgework. He can change directions to avoid defenders. Damiani could stand to get stronger but his low centre of gravity gives him decent balance. He is tough to knock off the puck and good in the corners and on the cycle. As he gets stronger, this should only improve.
Damiani marries his skating with strong stick-handling. This allows him to create space when moving the puck through the neutral zone and generate effective zone entries. Quick movements of his feet and hands also allow Damiani to open up passing lanes. Damiani sees the ice well and is a good playmaker. He finds open teammates and has the passing skills to put the puck through tight areas. Damiani can slow down the play and control the puck with his stickhandling. This gives his teammates time to get open. When they do, Damiani can set them up for a scoring
While primarily a playmaker, Damiani can also score goals. The majority of his goals come from in close to the net. He has the soft hands to beat goalies in tight and the quickness to pounce on rebounds. He also has an accurate shot but needs some work on his power and release. As he continues to add muscle to his frame, his wrist shot may improve, but he is unlikely to ever be known as a sniper. He uses his speed well to get in on the forecheck and pressure defenders into mistakes and turnovers.
Damiani brings his strong work ethic to the defensive zone as well. He is willing to support the defence with backpressure against the rush and by getting down low and supporting against the cycle game. Damiani is willing to play physically along the boards but his lack of size can be exposed by bigger and stronger opponents. He reads the game well and is strong positionally. Damiani cuts down passing lanes and creates turnovers with his active stick. He is also good at poke-checking opponents. Once a turnover is created, he is good at transitioning to offence quickly.
Damiani likely needs a bit more time in the AHL and should start the season with the Texas Stars. It must be remembered that the AHL was a bit weaker than normal last year, with a shortened schedule, and with taxi squads in the NHL stripping the league of many top veteran skaters and one goalie from each team. As he continues to add muscle to his frame and get experience in the AHL he could be NHL ready for call-ups this year and full time duty by 2022.
#7 Prospect: Ayrton Martino
The Stars drafted Martino with the 73rd overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Martin. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#8 Prospect: Conner Roulette
The Stars drafted Roulette with the 111th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Roulette. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#9 Prospect: Jacob Peterson
Centre — shoots Left
Born July 19th, 1999 — Lidkoping, Sweden
Height 6’0″ — Weight 170 lbs [183 cm/77 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 5th round, #132 overall, at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Peterson had a solid second full season in the SHL, more than doubling his scoring totals. He put up 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 46 games with Farjestad. Peterson also put up a goal and an assist in six playoff games.
Peterson’s skating stride is a bit unconventional. He skates upright and could stand to have a longer stride. Despite this, he still generates good speed and acceleration. This indicates that despite the fact this is not a weakness in his game, it can be improved even more and become a real strength. Peterson also has good edgework and agility. This allows him to change directions quickly and to fool defenders with his movement. Peterson is strong on his skates, with good core body strength. This allows him to fight through the checks and to win battles in the corners and in front of the net. How this will translate to smaller ice is a bit of a question though.
Peterson has good hands that he combines with his skating ability. He is able to control the puck on the cycle game and in the offensive zone, protecting it from defenders. Peterson is willing to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice to make plays. He has good vision and passing skills. When a teammate gets open, Peterson is able to create a passing lane with a quick move of his sticks. He can then make a tape-to-tape pass to set up a scoring chance. Peterson makes those plays that are open to him but is not one to try anything too risky. If there is not a play there, he will move the puck to a teammate in the cycle and wait for a better chance.
Peterson also has a good wrist shot. It is accurate and features a good release. He could stand to add some power to the shot though, as right now he scores most of his goals from the faceoff dots and in. Peterson is also good in front of the net, pouncing on rebounds, one-timing passes from teammates and getting a deflection. He needs to take better angles on the forecheck. Peterson often gives defenders an extra split-second with the puck and doesn’t always take away the passing lane or escape route.
Peterson is effective in his own end. He does a good job of supporting the defence through backpressure against the rush. He also supports the defence down low against the cycle. Peterson needs to bulk up though as he is still a bit slight when he faces bigger opposing forwards. He reads the play well and cuts down passing lanes with an active stick. Peterson is also willing to put his body on the line to block shots. He does a good job with his lateral movement and keeps himself between his man and the front of the net. When a turnover is created, Peterson is quick to jump on the puck and move it up the ice to create an offensive opportunity.
Peterson is under contract and is expected to be part of Stars training camp. It is likely that he will be assigned to Texas where he will have the opportunity to adjust to North American ice and playing his game in a more physical environment. Expect to see him get better as the season goes along and compete for a spot with Dallas in 2022-23.
#10 Prospect: Wyatt Johnston
The Stars drafted Johnston with the 23rd overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Johnston. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
Sleeper Prospect: Yevgeni Oksentyuk
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 27th, 2001 — Brest, Belarus
Height 5’8″ — Weight 163 lbs [173 cm / 74 kg]
Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 6th round, #162 overall at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 27th, 2001 — Brest, Belarus
Height 5’8″ — Weight 163 lbs [173 cm/74 kg]
With the OHL Season never starting, Oksentyuk spent the season playing for Yunost Minsk in the Belarussian top league. Undersized and just 18 years old, Oksentyuk struggled in his first season against men. He put up just three goals and six points in 31 regular-season games. Oksentyuk seemed to find his game a little bit in the playoffs where he scored four goals and five points in 13 games.
Oksentyuk is undersized but makes up for it with his strong skating ability. He has an explosive first step as well as good acceleration. Oksentyuk’s top-end speed is very good. He’s not one of the top speedsters in the Stars system, but he is still well above average. His edgework and agility are also very good. This helps him to get around defenders and create space in one-on-one situations. Oksentyuk has good balance thanks to a strong lower body. He is able to fight through checks and is surprisingly good along the boards for his size.
Oksentyuk has amazing hands. He controls the puck while moving at top speed. His hands are smooth and he can make moves in a phone booth. Combined with his quickness, these hands make him a nightmare in one-on-one situations. He can make defenders look silly and walk around them. His quick hands also give him the ability to make a last-second move to open up a passing or shooting lane. Oksentyuk is also an excellent playmaker. He can feather a pass through tight spaces and find an open teammate. He also does a good job of keeping his head up and has good vision. Oksentyuk controls the puck and extends plays, giving teammates time to get open. His hockey IQ is high and he anticipates where his teammates are headed and finds them to create a scoring chance.
Oksentyuk’s quick hands and ability to change angles quickly help him to get his shot off quickly and in a way that fools goaltenders. However, his shot lacks some power. He really needs to improve his upper-body strength and this could lead to a better shot. As it stands, he scores most of his goals in tight to the net. He is also able to elevate the puck quickly and scores by pouncing on rebounds or getting deflections. Oksentyuk even scored a lacrosse-style goal in the 2019-20 season. He is quick at getting into the zone. Oksentyuk is also an effective forechecker, chasing down defenders and creating mistakes.
Oksentyuk’s defensive game is very much a work in progress. He is inconsistent in his own end of the rink. He has a tendency to puck watch and not move his feet, losing his man and giving opponents opportunities to create chances. Oksentyuk also has a tendency to leave the zone early, looking to create an offensive chance before being sure that his team can leave the zone. Oksentyuk does not really engage physically and instead tends to reach with his stick instead of getting his body into the play. He will need some good coaching as well as an improved effort level going forward.
Oksentyuk has plenty of offensive skill and if he develops correctly could become a top-six forward at the next level. However, there are some real red flags here. Oksentyuk is small and slight. He will need to get stronger to be able to stand up to the physical game at the pro level. He also needs to greatly improve in his own end of the rink. His defensive game will drive coaches crazy. There is a chance for a big reward if he can solve these issues though. Expect to see Oksentyuk back in Belarus next season as well as playing for Belarus at the World Junior level.
Other 2021 Dallas Stars Prospects
The Stars needed a real injection of depth into the prospect system after recent graduations and trades. They definitely got that in the 2021 Draft, with an A- grade. Jack Bar and Artem Grushnikov were also highly rated by our site heading into the draft and now sit just outside the Stars Top 10 prospects. Further down the system, the team hopes Riley Tufte can take the next step and become an NHLer. Other forwards to watch include Antonio Stranges, Nick Caamano, Oskar Back, Tye Felhaber, Jordan Kawaguchi, Albin Eriksson, Daniel Ljungman, Frederik Karlstrom, and Adam Mascherin. On the blueline, prospects to watch include Samuel Sjolund, Ben Brinkman, Dawson Barteaux, Ryan Shea, and Ben Gleason. In goal, the Stars also have Colton Point, Adam Scheel, and Remi Poirier.
2021 Dallas Stars Prospects Main Photo:
DALLAS, TEXAS – MARCH 25: Jake Oettinger #29 of the Dallas Stars blocks a shot on goal against Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second period at American Airlines Center on March 25, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)