When the Stars sent forward Matej Blumel down to the American Hockey League, it was likely the biggest surprise of camp.
The 22-year-old had done nothing but score goals in Traverse City and Training Camp, and looked to be ready to play at the highest level. But in the end, the depth of the forwards made it a necessary decision for Dallas, albeit a tough one.
“I’m a fan,” Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “I liked him in camp. He made it hard for us to cut him.”
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Since his demotion, Blumel has continued to impress. In six games with the Texas Stars, he has been better than a point-per-game guy, with five goals and three assists. With his performance, he forced the Stars to give him his chance, which he got with the call-up on Wednesday.
“He handled it exactly the way you want a young guy to handle it,” DeBoer said. “Went down and basically showed us that he belongs up here.”
“Had a fantastic start in the American League, which is a tough league to score in, and he scored just about every night down there.”
Hard work is nothing new for Blumel. The native of Czech Republic has had to earn his chances every step of his career.
After being drafted in the fourth round in 2019 by the Edmonton Oilers, he was not signed to an NHL contract. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he went right back to work, had an excellent showing with eight points in 10 games at the 2022 World Championships, and earned offers from multiple NHL clubs, ultimately deciding on Dallas.
While many Stars fans see him as just a goal scorer, Blumel says there is a lot more to him that makes him a well-rounded player.
“I wouldn’t,” he joked 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.”
While Blumel won’t make his debut Thursday against Washington, he is “in the mix” and should get his chance soon, possibly on this three-game homestand. In my opinion, he will fit in perfectly with this group and the style of play that DeBoer and his staff are preaching.