|Blumel, Harley, Bourque and Stankoven in Sunday's preseason game|
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Even with Stanley Cup hope for this coming June, the Dallas Stars have an enviable talent pipeline. The forward trio of Wyatt Johnston, Mavrik Bourque and Logan Stankoven was much anticipated this time last year.
Johnston did not disappoint in his first year, jumping right to the NHL. Bourque spent the year refining his game in the AHL, and Stankoven headed back to junior for a final year in Kamloops. Now, Stankoven graduates to the pros and takes the next step.
"I put junior hockey past me over the summer," Stankoven told 100 Degree Hockey on the second day of Dallas camp. "It was a nice way to finish things off with Memorial Cup in Kamloops, but that's all past me. Now it's time to move on to pros. I tried to get physically and mentally prepared this summer and come into camp in good shape and ready to go."
Bourque was in much the same position last year as Stankoven is today. Coming off a short summer thanks to his team's participation in the Memorial Cup, he had a slow start to the year.
"It was such a short summer last year. I was not really ready for what was coming," said Bourque. "I feel way more confident [this year]. I got more speed in my game, more compete."
Bourque's experience last year can be instructive for Stankoven as he looks to avoid a sluggish start to the year. The two were on a line with fellow young Star Matej Blumel last night in Cedar Park. They did not disappoint. Stankoven potted the first and seventh goal of the night. His linemates tallied four assists.
"I thought [my speed] felt good," he said postgame. "I think there's times where I could probably use a little bit more, but that's what the video is for. You go back, watch video, and there's a lot of good things but also some corrections you can make."
The first-year forward is certainly oozing coachability but is also inquisitive when it comes to what's next in his pro career.
"I've just been kind of asking little tips about how [Bourque's] season went last year," said Stankoven. "The things that he had to deal with. Obviously he had a really good second half to his year and finished off well in playoffs. [I'm] just trying to follow in his steps and learn from his first year and take that into my first year."
At least for the preseason, Bourque and Stankoven are paired as roommates, giving them more chances to have those conversations and for Bourque to impress on Stankoven how to be a pro away from the ice as well.
"A lot of us guys are staying at Sandman Hotel right now," said Stankoven, indicating the unsure nature of his first pro year. "I don't think it's sunk in just yet that I'll be playing probably somewhere in Texas this year."
|(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)|
Stankoven won't just be looking at Bourque, however, if he is in Texas. He noted that Texas captain Curtis McKenzie is 'another British Columbia boy' on the AHL side. "We've kind of chatted here and there, and I've heard nothing but great things about him. He'll be definitely a guy that I'll be looking to take information off of this year."
Ultimately, it seems like it's only a matter of time until the young forward is sending pucks at NHL nets.
"If I'm down in Texas here, you're one step away from the big club and living out your childhood dreams. It's just about not being satisfied with where you are in your game and trying to work on a piece of your game each day so that hopefully one day you're wearing the Dallas Stars sweater."