Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. As we go through the summer of 2023, each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a look at one NHL team’s top prospects or other topical article. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! You can find all the articles here as well as our extensive NHL Draft preview. Today, we look at the 2023 Dallas Stars Top Prospects.
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.
2023 Dallas Stars Top Prospects
1) Logan Stankoven
Logan Stankoven, the second round pick (47th overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, is at the top of the Dallas Stars prospects list. Stankoven just wrapped up his fourth full season in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers, including being the captain in the last two seasons. Last season, he managed 97 points in just 48 games. That performance took his WHL career totals to 260 points in 179 games, a ridiculous statline. Additionally, every notable outlet except for one (Craig Button) had Stankoven as a first-round talent. The Stars had a steal since day one, and he has only solidified that idea.
Stankoven is a strong offensive zone presence. He arguably had the best shot in the 2021 draft class, with an absolute laser of a shot. That power and accuracy, paired with an elite-level release, has been pro-ready since draft day. What he has done since then is round out his game, with a bit more juice as a playmaker. On top of that, he is a workhorse, constantly hounding the puck and playing much larger than his 5’8″ and 170 pound frame suggests. Playing solid in all three zones with a hefty resume in the WHL, he could compete for a roster spot as soon as this season with the Stars.
2) Mavrik Bourque
Mavrik Bourque, a first round pick (30th overall) in the 2020 NHL draft, is a centre coming off his first taste of professional hockey. Over the last two seasons, he has played 76 AHL games, but 70 of them came just last season. In those 70 games, he managed to score 47 points, a very impressive statline for an AHL rookie. That season is coming on the back of a 172-game QMJHL career, where he scored 236 points.
Bourque has always been a big-time play creator. Usually, he is the one who fires off those chances, but his awareness and anticipation, paired with his quick first steps and excellent edges, allows him to set up several quick attacks out of nothing. That confidence and creativity, paired with his willingness to attack the slot and get off a high volume of shots makes him a threat every time he steps on the ice. With his impressive AHL season under his belt and a still reliable defensive game, he very well could see some NHL time with the Stars. How much, who knows? Maybe he locks a spot on the third line, or maybe more. Or, he only gets a handful of games and stays primarily in the AHL. But Bourque looks like he could get some NHL contests in this season.
3) Ayrton Martino
Ayrton Martino, drafted in the third round (73rd overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, is heading into his third NCAA season with Clarkson University. When Martino was drafted, he was largely ranked as a top-50 pick after scoring 56 points in 38 USHL games with the Omaha Lancers. Part of the reason he fell so far was largely due to the fact that he only played one USHL season. That comes after a couple seasons in the OJHL, which is relatively considered a low level of hockey to other junior leagues. But, joining Clarkson University, he immediately made an impact, proving those who listed him in the top-50 look even smarter. As a freshman, he managed 29 points in 37 games, a solid statline. But last season, he broke out with 38 points in 37 games, landing at over a point-per-game.
Martino plays the game very similarly to that of Stankoven. Martino is an excellent skater, and generates a ton of chances off the rush thanks to that speed. But paired with that speed is an excellent stickhandling ability, able to consistently win one-on-ones in tight spots or off the rush to keep a defender guessing. Additionally, he isn’t afraid to try anything to make a play. His creativity truly jumps off the page, again similar to Stankoven.
While he is more balanced in the offensive game, stylistically, he doesn’t have the goal-scoring upside that Stankoven does. But again, he is smart in his own end, can play well transitionally, and has top-six offensive upside. Plus, he is a little bit taller, at 5’11”. However, he should bulk up more, as he is just 161 pounds. But with the light NCAA schedule heading into next season, that should be the focus. He has everything else in his game, in spades.
4) Lian Bichsel
Lian Bichsel, a former first round pick (18th overall) in the 2022 NHL draft, is the top defender on the Dallas Stars prospects list. The left-shot defender, who stands at 6’5″ and 216 pounds, is the biggest prospect mentioned to this point, by quite a margin. Last season was his second playing in the SHL. In two seasons there, he scored nine points across 71 games. Next season, he is slated to play in the AHL with the Texas Stars.
Bichsel, despite his size, is a strong skater. That’s especially true when skating backwards to defend the rush. Plus, his long reach and strong stick work allows him to keep the play to the outside consistently. His awareness and anticipation in his own end is noticeable, as he has such a strong base for keeping players away from the slot. Not to mention, he has the strength and willingness to get involved physically, imposing his daunting frame onto forwards skating up his side of the ice.
But perhaps the biggest development is the improvement in his transitional abilities. If he can keep taking strides as a puck-mover and in his offensive presence, he can easily translate into a top-four pick. For now, he is expected to play in the AHL and will likely get at least a full season there before getting NHL games. Certainly someone to keep an eye on moving forward, however.
5) Aram Minnetian
Aram Minnetian is one of the newest additions to the Dallas Stars prospects pipeline, after being drafted in the fourth round (125th overall) in the 2023 NHL draft. Minnetian is a right-shot defender who stands at 5’11” and 194 pounds, a much different look than the one previously shown in Bichsel. Playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Minnetian scored 31 points in 62 games, including six points in 22 USHL games.
Minnetian is a very intriguing prospect. His production may not reflect it, but he plays with a fast pace in the offensive zone. He constantly looks to attack the slot area with passes, and isn’t afraid to get deep in the offensive zone both with and without the puck. He has strong puck skills, able to pair his strong four-way mobility with good hands, able to get him out of trouble at times.
Additionally, he is exceptional at moving the puck up the ice, and can be an even better player with a bigger role as the puck-mover. However, he can be a bit of a liability at times in his own end. That, along with his high-risk offensive game spells translatability concerns. However, the potential is there, and if he can produce in the NCAA and show he can play at that level, he steps much closer to being in the NHL.
6) Christian Kyrou
After a smaller, more offensively focused defender in Minnetian, the Stars next best prospect fits that same shoe. Another blueliner, Kyrou was taken in the second round (50th overall) in the 2022 NHL draft. Standing at 5’10” and 183 pounds, Kyrou is coming off his best OHL season yet. In his draft year, he managed to score 60 points in 68 games with the Erie Otters. Last season, split between the Otters and Sarnia Sting, he upped that production to 77 points in 64 games.
Kyrou is another aggressive offensive zone presence from the blueline. However, he is more of a shooter than a playmaker, as Minnetian is. However, that is for good reason, as he has an accurate and fairly strong shot from the point that has generated chances over the last two seasons. Meanwhile, he has exceptional edges and stickhandling skills to create shooting lanes for himself, and he doesn’t look off passes if there isn’t a lane to shoot through. That said, his defensive game has been steadier, but is still inconsistent. Refining that area, plus continuing to build his offensive resume, could get him another step closer to that top-four potential he seemingly possesses.
7) Matthew Seminoff
Seminoff, a winger, was a sixth round (179th overall) draft pick in the 2022 NHL draft. Thus far, the Dallas Stars prospects pool has seemingly snagged yet another steal. It’s also worth noting that most notable sites had him ranked in the top-100. In his draft year, Seminoff had scored just 88 points in 134 WHL games. While that production isn’t bad, it’s nothing compared to last season, where he nearly matched that point total. In 62 games, Seminoff put away 82 points, including 31 goals. He’s expected to play with the Texas next season in the AHL.
Seminoff is a strong skater, with an excellent top speed and strong acceleration. He uses that to forecheck hard and create issues for the opposition. Meanwhile, once possession is established in the offensive end, Seminoff always sets up shop right at the net front. While he is just 5’11” and 183 pounds, Seminoff consistently enjoys getting to the dirty areas and hunting for tips and rebounds.
Meanwhile, he can be a nifty playmaker, with strong puck skills and anticipation. In his own end, he is reliable, showing excellent work ethic and a willingness to defend low to support his defenders. Seminoff projects to be in the NHL in some capacity, but if he keeps upping his offensive abilities, he could have a strong middle-six role at the next level.
8) Albert Sjoberg
Sjoberg, another potential steal for the Dallas Stars prospects pipeline, is a former seventh round selection (207th overall) in the 2021 NHL draft. Over the last two seasons, he has played a large majority of his games in the Allsvenskan, the Swedish equivalent of the AHL. Playing 86 total games there over the last two seasons, he has produced 30 points, a moderate statline. This season, thus far, he has played four SHL games, where he has yet to record his first point.
The 6’0″ and 183 pound winger who relies on a high compete level and strong skating to produce. Sjoberg focuses on the smaller details of his game, like using a strong awareness and anticipation to cut opponents off to force mistakes. Then, he’ll work hard to find space for a teammate to get him the puck, or he’ll work hard to find teammates for a scoring chance. However, he isn’t a dynamic presence in the offensive zone to this point. Yet, to that point, he hasn’t exactly been given the best chances to show that side. He’s reliable in his own end and looks like someone who could fit in the bottom six as someone who out-works opponents consistently and plays largely mistake-free hockey.
9) Francesco Arcuri
Arcuri, a centre drafted in the sixth round (175th overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, is another of the Dallas Stars prospects to play for Texas this season. Arcuri finished his OHL career with 185 points in 197 games. That includes 165 points in 137 games over the last two seasons, which follows the year he was drafted. In essence, since his name was called on draft day, he has done nothing but improve his production.
Standing at 6’1″ and 201 pounds, Arcuri has good size and a strong defensive sense. That ultimately gives him an ideal base for which the Stars can build off of to play center down the line. Arcuri has always been a strong playmaker, able to dissect defensive zone coverages quickly to make the right decisions. Additionally, he is a strong skater with a solid work ethic, which once again gives him a good base for the Stars to build off. As of now, the offensive upside is there, but a year in the AHL will give a bigger tell where he truly stands in professional hockey. It is certainly his biggest test. But Arcuri seems like the type of player who plays smart and reliable hockey in all three zones, and that projects well in a middle-six in some capacity.
10) Chase Wheatcroft
Wheatcroft is an undrafted free agent signing that could prove fruitful for the Dallas Stars prospects pipeline. He is also expected to join Texas in the AHL this season. Wheatcroft wrapped up his WHL career, scoring 189 points in 205 games across four seasons. That may not jump off the page. That is, until it’s shown that he scored 107 of those points in 68 games in his final season there.
Wheatcroft, the 6’2″ and 176 pound center, came out of nowhere. But this doesn’t seem like a flash in the pan, especially considering how well he has since played in practices. He has been lauded for his skating and shooting ability, not looking out of place at all in Stars practices. But on top of his shooting ability, which is high-end, he mostly excelled as a playmaker in his break-out season. Now, he is showing more of a dual-threat ability. Unfortunately, he did sustain an ankle injury in the preseason, and that could take him out for a little while. But if he can bounce back and showcase that dual-threat offence in the AHL, he could see the NHL sooner rather than later.
HM (Round 4 Or Later): Antonio Stranges
Stranges, a forward who had a ton of intrigue before being drafted in the fourth round (123rd overall) in the 2020 NHL draft, hasn’t quite panned out as hoped. Stranges split last season between the AHL and ECHL. In the AHL, he scored 12 points in 19 games, which isn’t bad by any means. Meanwhile, he scored 12 points in the 12 ECHL games he drew into. That comes after he concluded his OHL career with 158 points in 187 games. That includes 84 points in 60 games in his final season.
Stranges may be the single-most impressive skater that’s been seen in years. As a matter of fact, he has been on highlight reels for just his unorthodox and incredibly impressive edges and agility. His offensive game is flashy and he can truly be a dominant force on the ice. Simply because of how difficult he is to limit as a skater. He is able to generate a ton of chances by burning defenders. However, his game has always been inconsistent. While he does have good puck skills, Stranges is overly reliant on that skating. That aspect of his game can only take him so far. Plus, it’s a bit discouraging that he couldn’t stick in the AHL, being sent to the ECHL last season. The potential remains, and it all comes down to consistency. Especially in his own end.
In The System
The Dallas Stars have come a long way since going to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2020. While they haven’t exactly been competitive in that sense, they have built up quite a strong, young core in that time. There are a few great young players who already hold NHL roles. Those players include Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Ty Dellandrea, Wyatt Johnston, Miro Heiskanen, Nils Lundkvist, Thomas Harley and Jake Oettinger. Meanwhile, notable names who did not make the top-ten, and are under contract, include Matej Blumel, Kyle McDonald, Riley Damiani, Artem Grushnikov, and Remi Poirier.
Meanwhile, some notable names who aren’t under contract that didn’t make the list include Brad Gardiner, Daniel Ljungman, Angus MacDonell, Tristan Bertucci, Jack Bar, Maxim Mayorov, and Arno Tiefensee. As seen, the Dallas Stars prospects pool has gotten exponentially better over the last couple of seasons. Now, it is one of the best in the NHL. With the new core taking over and more young players on the rise that can have a real impact, a return to the Cup Finals isn’t far from reality.
All stats via Elite Prospects
Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports