The Stars wrapped up training camp with a quick on-ice session for a few youngsters unlikely to have a shot at the NHL, followed by a full team scrimmage. Here are the notable takeaways and the initial reaction from Head Coach Pete DeBoer.
Matej Blumel Knows How to Score
22-year-old Matej Blumel has shown us one thing over the past couple of weeks: he knows how to score goals. After leading the team with four goals (one hat trick) at Traverse City, the Czech forward tallied twice in the scrimmage, once again leading the team. He also showed flashes of his playmaking, finding a streaking Riley Damiani down the slot for an excellent scoring chance. Without a doubt, the kid has given the coaches a lot to think about.
“It is a great skill to have, being a productive guy,” DeBoer said. “There are lots of guys that pop in practice and then the game starts, and not a lot gets done. He seems to be one of those guys that the production is there when the puck drops, and that’s a good thing to have.
Stankoven & Johnston Show Flashes
Logan Stankoven and Wyatt Johnston were far from the best players during the scrimmage. However, they did make a few plays that flashed the brilliance that is in their near future.
Stankoven was most noticeable when he was puck-jacking opponents and setting up his teammates for chances. His hard work is obvious and that could be contagious throughout the room. Johnston had a similar performance, stealing the puck and finding ways to get it to his team with speed heading up the ice.
One thing I will say, although they were fairly impressive at Traverse City and into training camp, Dallas will absolutely be looking for more from those two, as well as Mavrik Bourque, in the preseason in order to keep them around.
Seguin Looks a Step Faster
We recently dove deep into the potential for Tyler Seguin, coming into camp fully healthy for the first time in years. Well, he certainly looked to be on his horse in the scrimmage and was noticeable nearly every time he touched the ice. Although he did not tally any points, he had multiple scoring chances, was all over the puck, and showed his improved speed, driving through the middle and tipping a puck off the far post. Look for Seguin to have an extra gear this season.
Three lines Stand Out
The three line combinations that stood out over the first two days were also the best lines in the scrimmage. For the Green squad, Seguin, Jacob Peterson, and Joe Pavelski created plenty of chances and rarely got caught in their own end. Jamie Benn, Wyatt Johnston, and Radek Faksa had a nice balance of offense and defense, and Benn nearly got on the board a couple of times.
For the White team, the big boy line of Denis Gurianov, Roope Hintz, and Mason Marchment was not only the most noticeable all weekend but is also seemingly the most realistic option going into the regular season. All three players have size and speed, play with some tenacity, and seem to read off of each other very well. The trio did not record any points but Hintz did score in the shootout.
“They are big, intimidating guys,” DeBoer said. “I am not going to read too much into chemistry but what I like is we are going to have the ability to have a big, fast team. And when you can be that, you are going to be a hard team to play against, and those three guys all bring that identity.”
Pete DeBoer’s Reaction
For Pete DeBoer, his focus on Saturday was to see how well his new team implemented his new system, along with identifying any standout players.
“I was more watching the things we were trying to implement, and I think we got some of that,” DeBoer said. “I think our D were involved on breakouts, there was some really good puck movement support out there.”
After facing a laundry list of injuries last season in Vegas, many of which happened at training camp, DeBoer felt relieved and happy to get out of the three-day camp with a full roster of healthy bodies.
“Really happy everyone got out healthy,” he said. “Really happy [Anton] Khudobin played half a game after surgery and looked good doing it. Those are really the quick hit things I took out of it.”
While the scrimmage is a huge step in the process, DeBoer and his team have been preparing all summer long and are really excited to finally face another team on Monday (at home vs St. Louis).
“I think this was an important step today getting in a game-like situation,” he said. “But there is nothing like playing against another team where the bodies are flying and the hits are for real, so I think we are looking forward to taking that next step.”
It was a successful camp for Dallas that showed us a bit about the team and gave us a glance at what this new system under DeBoer is actually going to look like. Now it is on to the preseason, with the regular-season opener just 19 days away.
See y’all in Dallas.