If you have followed the Stars this offseason, you have inevitably heard the name Matej Blumel. The 22-year-old forward was signed by Dallas back in June after the Edmonton Oilers opted not to offer him a contract.
Since arriving in Dallas, he has done nothing but impress the Stars organization. First, he led the team in goals at Traverse City, then he led all scorers in the team scrimmage following training camp in Austin. Now, he has consistently stayed relevant on the practice sheet, earning himself three straight preseason games, more than any other roster player.
The NHL dream was very much in question for Blumel after being let go by Edmonton. But the Czechia winger still believed that he could make it and earned his shot after recording eight points in 10 games at the 2022 World Championships.
“I didn’t have anything after last season,” he said. “Then I joined the national team back home and played with them for a couple of weeks and made it to the World Championships. I got to play with [David] Krejci, that was awesome. Then some of the offers just showed up from the NHL. I chose Dallas, I liked everything about the team and the organization, about the spot.”
After receiving offers from multiple NHL clubs, Blumel said the decision was tough. But since playing at the Five Nations Tournament back in 2016 in the Dallas area, he knew it was somewhere he would like to be.
“I don’t really remember the number, but I would say eight or ten teams that were interested,” he continued. “But since I knew about Dallas, I hoped it was going to be Dallas. The process was pretty hard to make a big decision, but at the end of the day, it’s not about the decision, it’s about how I play.”
To Dallas fans and media, Blumel seems like a natural goal scorer. I mean, that is all the kid has done in his time here. But that is not how he would describe himself and according to him, he has much more to give.
“I wouldn’t,” he laughed when asked if he would describe himself as a pure goal scorer. “It all comes with hard work and that’s what I have done my whole life. My whole summer since I signed with Dallas, I have said ‘I’ve got to be in the best shape I have ever been’, and that is what I came here with. I feel like I am a two-way player that can play in both ends, kill penalties, and play power play too. Where the coach needs me, I will accept it and I will play the best I can.”
Jacob Peterson was the big surprise at camp last summer, making the roster in his first season in North America. Like Blumel, Peterson had a strong Traverse City tournament and used that momentum to propel him to opening night. Blumel hopes to capture some of that same magic this year.
“For me, coming into training camp, I am not a young guy right after the draft, I have already spent a few years in the pros and have played at the World Championships, and I think that can help me, he said. “I know how Petey played last year and I hope I can do the same thing this year.”
Blumel has a leg up on Peterson’s story, both in terms of length of experience and playing two years in the USHL and therefore, being used to the smaller size rinks in North America and getting accustomed to the English language.
Pete DeBoer and his staff have had only good things to say about Blumel. When asked if he was a legitimate option to make the opening night roster, he responded with “Yeah, I think so, he is definitely in that conversation.”
“He has come as advertised,” Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “They were excited about signing him and getting him over the summer. He has done it right, he made a great first impression at rookie camp [Traverse City], he handled that the right way and was one of the best players there, if not the best player. He has come to camp and has looked consistently dangerous here. He is one of those guys we want to take a good hard long look at. I think he is definitely in that conversation.”
For Blumel, he has made a great first impression. Now, he will look to build on that, tally his first preseason goal, show what else he brings to the table, and stick around as long as he can, hopefully to the Oct. 13 lineup in Nashville.