The Dallas Stars have one of the best prospect pools in the entire NHL. At points this season, their youngsters within the system led the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in scoring. While these players still have some time before they jump into the NHL conversation, they are giving fans and the organization plenty of hope for the future. We will dive deeper into the current AHL prospects later in the week.
Wyatt Johnston (Windsor Spitfires, OHL)
Wyatt Johnston is far and away the most skilled prospect on this list. The 23rd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft has absolutely blown away the competition playing for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL. Wearing the “A” for alternate captain, Johnston has recorded a ridiculous 45 goals and 123 points in just 67 games (1.83 points per game).
The 18-year-old leads the league in scoring and has shown no signs of slowing down. Johnston has the fifth-most points in a single season in Spitfires franchise history. He also leads all of his teammates by a wide nearly 40-point margin on the season.
“As an 18-year-old to lead the OHL in scoring, it’s an incredible feat,” said Stars director of player personnel Rich Peverley. “When I saw him as a 16-year-old, the last half of the year he was a point-per-game player. He was a really good player. You saw the skill and elusiveness. What we’ve seen with him this year is his ability to not only create for himself, but also create for others. He’s very hard to check. He’s an incredible stick handler and very quick in tight spaces. He’s elusive with the puck and he does a really good job getting into areas where he can get his shot off.”
Johnston signed a three-year entry-level contract with Dallas during the preseason and played in one NHL preseason game.
Logan Stankoven (Kamloops Blazers, WHL)
Another 2021 pick (47th overall), logan stankoven you have made a lot of noise in the WHL. In 58 games for the Kamloops Blazers, Stankoven has recorded 44 goals and 102 points, ranking second in the league. His 1.79 points per game ranks first in the WHL. His resume of him was also bolstered further with an impressive goal in his lone game at the canceled World Junior Championship tournament in December.
At just 5-foot-7, his gritty style and incredible work ethic have continued to silence doubters as he looks to become a similar impact player to Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins. He also relishes the scraps and action after the whistle, just like his idol of him.
“With Logan, you don’t ever worry about the off-ice stuff,” Peverley said. “He’s very committed. He works incredibly hard. He just seems like a guy who’s going to get it. He wants to get it. He’s very determined. He has an NHL shot, and we knew that going in when we drafted him. This year, he’s put himself in situations to become more of a playmaker. He’s been playing in the middle most of the year, but he’s played on the wing a little bit.”
Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL)
2020 first-round pick of the Stars, Mavrik Bourque has been hit hard with injuries this season. Despite these setbacks, he managed to skate in Dallas Stars training camp, dress in five of the seven NHL preseason games (three assists), and just missed out on the roster during the final round of cuts for opening night. Once moved back to the QMJHL, he has played well when healthy. In 26 games, the 20-year-old has 14 goals and 51 points.
The most impressive part of Bourque is the fact that he played in the AHL at the age of 19 during the 2020-21 season due to other leagues being shut down. In six games, he recorded five points and did not look overwhelmed or out of place, showing that he is further in his development than his age from him might hint.
Bourque signed a three-year entry-level contract with Dallas in 2021.
Antonio Stranges (London Knights, OHL)
If you were to search “wild OHL goal” or “OHL play of the year”, you would see a list of results featuring Stars prospect Antonio Stranges of the London Knights. The funny part? You would actually see two different goals that could both qualify for the play of the year honors. On two separate occasions, Stranges have dropped the jaws of the hockey world as he took the puck coast-to-coast, displayed his incredible skating and edgework, and finished on the other end in highlight-reel fashion. The similarity between the two is wild.
Aside from his fancy plays, he has also been a massive impact player all season long. The 20-year-old has recorded 31 goals and 84 points in 60 games for the Knights.
“He’s probably got the best 10-and-2 skating I’ve ever seen,” Peverley said. “It’s really incredible what I can do. It makes him very hard to check. But the thing about Antonio is he’s really come along in his two-way game. I have listened to what we wanted. If you’re going to play professional hockey and be successful, you have to be trusted by the coaches.”
Now that you have seen the proof, it is easy to understand why Dallas feels so confident in their prospect pool. All of these players are having extreme success at a young age and each has demonstrated their ability to play with tougher competition, whether at the International level or in the AHL/NHL. As Dallas nears the end of some hefty veteran contracts, it is nice to know that they will be handing over the reins to some pretty elite youngsters.
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyzes and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast hereand give his latest article a read!