VANCOUVER, British Columbia Gavin Bayreuther is a good defenseman, and the Stars are hoping he can add to a mix of 20 something blue liners who eventually solidify the back end for years to come.
The skilled defenseman out of St. Lawrence University who signed a free agent contract with the Stars on Wednesday is a solid prospect who is worth the risk of a two year contract. And while the soon to be 23 year old still probably needs a year of AHL experience, he adds to a mix that continues to get thicker.
Bayreuther joins Dillon Heatherington (acquired in trade from Columbus) and 2014 first round draft pick Julius Honka as defensmen who are knocking on the NHL door. And when the NHL group already includes 22 year old Esa Lindell and 24 year olds John Klingberg jersey cheap, Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak jersey cheap, Dallas is walking a fine line between experience and talent on defense.
“We are very Young jersey cheap, and the NHL isn’t a developmental league, but we think we have good players,” said Stars general manager Jim Nill. “I think you want to collect talented players with different skill sets and let them make the decisions for you. We’ll put them in the positions where we hope they succeed and where we give them the best opportunity, and then we see what happens.”
Bayreuther adds to the skilled side of the defense. The 6 1, 195 pound lefty had 111 points (35 goals, 76 assists) in 142 collegiate games and is seen as a solid power play quarterback with a good shot.
“He’s going to need some time in the American League,” Nill said. “It’s a matter of increasing his strength, getting used to the speed of the game, getting used to playing against older guys. Some guys, they do that relatively fast. Some guys, it takes a year or two. He’s one of the top college defensemen who is a very good athlete, so we think there is a lot of potential there.”
Heatherington, 21, is a bigger, more defensive defenseman at 6 4, 220. He has 110 games of AHL experience and, like Bayreuther, is expected to finish out the season with the Texas Stars and then get ready for Stars camp next fall. Honka, 21, was able to jump straight into the AHL in 2014, so he has 184 AHL games under his belt and will be called up to play eight to 10 NHL games to finish the season, Nill said.
When Honka does get the call, that could mean players like Patrik Nemeth jersey cheap and Greg Pateryn will be facing more healthy scratches. It could also mean that Oleksiak and Johns are under even more pressure to make an impression before tough decisions are made this summer.
It’s a bubbling cauldron for the Stars on defense. Klingberg, Lindell and veteran Dan Hamhuis jersey cheap look like locks for next year’s roster, but all other positions on defense seem up in the air.
“There are no guarantees with any player, but you have to trust your assessment and your development staff and do the best you can to get the most out of the players,” Nill said. Wholesale Jerseys
“You’re dealing with human beings, and you have to see how each one develops. John Klingberg jersey cheap has 200 games now, so he is at a different stage. Other players have gained a lot of experience this year. It’s a process, and it’s a fine balance between patience and winning.”
In the long run, Nill still believes patience will lead to winning. That’s why he’s adding depth to an area where he believes there will always be need.
“It sounds harsh, but there is a chance that all five or six don’t develop,” he said. “As long as there are two or three, then you can set yourself up for a long time. Give yourself the best opportunity to find the best players.”