It wasn’t pretty for Dallas Stars prospects on day one in Traverse City. After the 7-2 loss to Columbus, Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal, who is coaching the Dallas prospects, started his little media scrum this way: “Where do you start?”
And then he rattled off a bunch of stuff: breakdowns, turnovers leading to goals, some spotty goaltending at times. Young Dallas team up against a more veteran Columbus team. Regroup and get ready for St. Louis on Saturday.
It was ugly, but there were a few bright spots.
Some of the better players were non-Dallas guys. Forwards Max French and Samuel Laberge, who are both under contract to Texas, stood out. Both had some bite to their game.
“We know what Laberge is about. He was here last year. He’s a worker bee. He’ll block shots,” Laxdal said. “He’s got a little [Antoine] Roussel in him. I don’t know if he is as physical or as tough, but it’s the game he is going to try to grow. I’ve talked to him about that a little bit. [French] competes and battles.”
Another Texas forward signee caught Laxdal’s eye.
“One guy who probably stood out to me was [Sheldon] Dries,” Laxdal said. “He skates well; he stood up for his teammate in a couple of areas.”
Dries is coming off a four-year career at Western Michigan University.
Among the Dallas guys, Laxdal liked what he saw from Roope Hintz, the second round pick in the 2015 draft. This tournament is the beginning of Hintz’s adjustment to North America, which I touched on in my story on Friday’s happenings on the Stars official site.
“I thought Roope, as the game moved along, he started to settle in. I expect him to be better [Saturday],” Laxdal said. “He’s a big, heavy, strong guy who skates well. He’s going to have to learn how to protect pucks more chasing to the net, protect pucks down low and use his shot. He just needs a few more games to find his way a little bit in the North American style.”
Denis Gurianov, the 2015 first round pick, had a couple of good scoring chances in the game but Laxdal wanted to see more.
“Denis should be dominant here. I am going to have a chat with him,” Laxdal said. “He had spurts in his game instead of being consistent. It’s got to be every shift. To be honest, he’s like a first-year player coming out of junior as a 20-year-old. You have to give him a little bit of leeway, but I like the fact that he raced on a few pucks, he took a few pucks to the net, created a couple of plays. He’s just got to get a little bit more of that direct line in his game, a little more north and south.”
Laxdal juggled his top two lines during the game, moving Jason Robertson to the top line with Gurianov and Hintz and moving Nick Caamano to the second line with Dries and Brett Davis.
“I thought Robertson, we bumped him up on that first line, he showed a little more skill, the skill that we’ve seen,” Laxdal said. “I thought when I moved Nick down with Dries that got his game better, more a grinding game than a skill game.”
Laxdal said he’ll probably stick with that change for Saturday’s game against St. Louis.
Forward Cole Tymkin and defenseman Eric Sweetman were the scratches Friday. Laxdal said they’ll play Saturday, and two of Friday’s players will come out.
The boxscore and player stats from Friday’s game can be found by clicking here.
Here was the lineup:
Nick Caamano – Roope Hintz – Denis Gurianov
Jason Robertson – Sheldon Dries – Brett Davis
Samuel Laberge – Max French – Vince Loschiavo
Zach Roberts – Tomas Soustal – Shaw Boomhower
Gavin Bayreuther – John Nyberg
Shane Hanna – Niklas Hansson
Chris Martenet – Ondrej Vala
Scratched: Eric Sweetman, Cole Tymkin