Elsewhere: trio of prospects eliminated with Färjestad, Texas Stars experiencing some tough growing pains
When you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it.
A great recent example of that is Dallas Stars prospect Fredrik Karlström, who plays for Växjö in the Swedish Hockey League. And with just how well he has been playing lately, he might even be working his way into his team’s historical lore.
Växjö swept their playoff series against Färjestad, and to say that Karlström (selected 90th overall by Dallas in the 2016 draft) played a huge role would be an understatement. Not only did he score four goals and add two assists in the four-game series, how he picked up most of those points is pretty incredible.
First, the speedy winger scored a beautiful breakaway marker in overtime in Game 1.
— C More Sport (@cmoresport) April 10, 2021
Then, he followed it up by setting up the game-winning goal late in the 3rd period of Game 2 to break a 4-4 tie and help his team to a 2-0 series lead.
#LeafsForever prospect Pontus Holmberg taps home a late goal to put Växjö up 5-4 in the third
The Lakers hung on to win this one, and are up 2-0 in their series. pic.twitter.com/Ov6ClZrfin
— Josh Simpson (@joshsimpson77) April 11, 2021
While his production in Game 3 wasn’t quite as climactic, his goal opened the scoring in the match and ultimately held on as the game-winner in a 3-0 victory.
— C More Sport (@cmoresport) April 13, 2021
And as if his overtime game-winning goal in Game 1 wasn’t enough, he managed to outdo himself in Game 4, potting the game-winning AND series-winning goal in extra time. Look at that final celly — that’s a player who knows that he’s red-hot right now.
Holmberg centers, Karlström finds the loose puck and ends the game. Second time the duo have combined for an OTGWG this series. pic.twitter.com/IUgoOTnavM
— Josh Simpson (@joshsimpson77) April 14, 2021
Karlström has a tendency to oscillate between hot and cold, including getting hot in the springtime. While you would obviously love to see him perform like this consistently, hey, sometimes is better than no times.
He’s certainly an interesting prospect. His incredible top speed is easily his best asset, but he also knows how to bury goals in tight and can sometimes be a hard player to strip the puck from because of his size and reach. He’s far from a perfect player, but the most important thing is that he’s one with a lot of runway still left for growth. If everything ultimately clicks with his development, the Stars could have a very useful NHLer on their hands.
The 23-year-old has already signed his entry-level contract with Dallas, so we might see him cross the pond and take his talents to North America next season. If he will be departing Sweden in the near future, continuing this level of play (and maybe helping Växjö win a league title) would certainly be an epic way to wrap things up.
The downside to Karlström and Växjö sweeping their series against Färjestad is that it meant a quick end to the postseason for some other Stars prospects, as Oskar Bäck, Jacob Peterson and Albin Eriksson are now all out. Bäck had one goal in six playoff games, Peterson had a goal and an assist, and Eriksson didn’t get to play at all, sitting as a healthy scratch.
None of these three have entry-level contracts so far. The Stars will need to sign Peterson soon to retain his rights, which will likely happen, as he has turned into a very pleasant surprise in the organization’s prospect pool. Bäck and Eriksson could go one more year without getting deals, but seeing them get signed soon is also a possibility — Bäck because he’s definitely ready for the challenge of the AHL, while Eriksson desperately, desperately needs a change of scenery, and getting him to Texas for some hands-on development there might be necessary to salvage any potential NHL future that he might still have.
Evgeny Oksentyuk is officially a league champion, as his Yunost Minsk team swept Gomel in the Belarusian Extraleague finals. The stocky winger had four goals and one assist in 13 playoff games for his club.
The Texas Stars have a young roster this season, and they have certainly been experiencing some growing pains over the past few weeks. After going 1-3 in a four-game series against the Colorado Eagles they also dropped a 1-3 series against the San Jose Barracuda.
In terms of points percentage, Texas currently sits 21st out of 28 teams at .448. Their record stands at 12-15-2.
The Calder Cup won’t be awarded this season, so the development of the prospects on the roster is the big priority for the team.
Adam Mascherin and Riley Damniani continue to lead the team in scoring, with Mascherin’s 29 points good for 3rd in the AHL. Thomas Harley has been consistently getting a lot of ice time, while Ben Gleason has made nice progress and cemented himself as a go-to guy on the roster after a disappointing sophomore season in 2019-20. Newly-signed goaltender Adam Scheel has been given the opportunity to get the most starts between the pipes as of late (including his first professional win), and has been slightly better than Colton Point, though there is still much growth for him to undergo. Even Antonio Stranges and Nick Porco, who would be playing in the OHL right now in different world circumstances, have gotten into some games.
Texas has nine games left to play on their schedule, so let’s hope to see some more opportunity and growth for the young guns down the stretch.
For a full database of the organization’s prospects and their stats, check out the Stars’ “In the System” page on Elite Prospects.