The Dallas Stars have signed prospect Wyatt Johnston to a three-year entry-level contract. The young forward was selected 23rd overall in the 2021 NHL Draft and is expected to head back to the Windsor Spitfires for the upcoming season. The team has also signed Logan Stankoven to a three-year entry-level deal. Stankoven was picked 47th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft and will be playing for the Kamloops Blazers this season.
Johnston, 18, is one of the OHL prospects that missed an entire year of development in 2020-21, waiting for the league to return from their indefinite COVID suspension. He did get some time in with Hockey Canada at a long camp provided for CHL players with nowhere to go and won a gold medal with the program at the U18 World Juniors, but still missed a great chance to make his mark on the league.
That meant when Dallas selected the 6’1″ center it was based on just 53 appearances at the OHL level, in which he scored just 12 goals and 30 points. That’s not the production most first-round picks have on their resume, but there are huge things expected from Johnston this season as he returns more physically mature than in 2020. A star for the Toronto Marlboros minor program that has produced countless NHL players including first overall picks like Connor McDavid, Rick Nash, John Tavares, and Jack Hughes, Johnston will be a player to watch for the Spitfires this season and already has his entry-level deal inked for whenever he turns pro.
Stankoven, 18, was also on that U18 team that won gold and actually heads into this season with quite a bit more production at the junior level. Though he played just six games with the Blazers last season, Stankoven now has 59 points in 72 WHL games. Though undersized–he stands just 5’8″ 170-lbs–Stankoven plays with a fearlessness that always has him around the net and battling for the puck in the corners. He was ranked 31st among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting before the draft, and very likely would have been a first-round pick had he measured in a few inches taller. That small frame will always be an obstacle for Stankoven, but it hasn’t stopped him from producing at any level in the past.
Should both players return to junior, their contracts will slide forward, not burning the first year of the entry-level deals.