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Instead of just giving fans a preview of what’s to come this season, the Dallas Stars’ 2019 preseason also gave fans a preview of what the future has in store.

A number of the team’s top prospects suited up for the Stars during preseason action, but it was the play of newcomer Thomas Harley that specifically got people talking. The organization’s first-round pick, 18th overall, in this past June’s NHL entry draft, Harley displayed his mobile, puck-moving style of hockey and showed composure well beyond his years while going up against NHL competition. Despite being sent down to the OHL for the 2019-20 season, don’t be surprised if Harley makes the jump to Dallas in 2020-21.

With his performance fresh in people’s minds and almost all of the other Stars prospects back in action in their various leagues across North America and Europe, now is as good of a time as any to release the newest edition of Defending Big D’s Prospect Rankings.

The previous edition of these rankings, which came out in February, can be found here.

For consistency, I’m using the same definition of “prospect” as before: “Any player who played fewer than 25 NHL games this season or last season, or fewer than 50 NHL games overall, is considered a prospect. The upper limit on the age cutoff is 26 years old. In exceptional cases, a player may be graduated from prospect status without having yet met these criteria.”

Graduated from last edition’s rankings: None

Please note that these rankings are based around the projection of a player’s potential NHL ceiling and their chances of reaching that ceiling, not who is the closest to NHL duty right now. These potential NHL ceilings are evaluated based on each player’s cumulative careers up to this point, which explains why, for example, someone that was great last year but is struggling right now might be ranked higher than someone that is having an unexpected breakout season.

Without further ado, here now are the 20 player rankings, which also showcase each player’s previous position on the list, their ages, and a brief explanation outlining why they’re listed where they are.

The Dallas Stars nabbed one of the top free agents on the market this summer in Joe Pavelski. The former San Jose Sharks captain was supposed to step in and provide an instant boost to the top six, but he’s been off to a slow start thus far:

“It just takes time,” said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. “It’s the nuances of the game, getting to know people, the comfort level of understanding when this guy has the puck, if I go here, I’m going to get the puck. That just takes time.”

Pavelski is obviously disappointed with his performance thus far, but he feels like he’s starting to find his groove. He’s also trying to not over-complicate things:

“There’s a lot of simple adjustments, but the main thing with that is make sure you’re going hard, make sure you’re working, battling,” he said. “You win a one-on-one battle, and some of those things just kind of take care of themselves naturally.”

You can read more from Mike Heika here.

Stars Stories
Heika and Razor talk about the start of the season and more in their latest podcast:

Razor draws the comparison between Miro Heiskanen and some of the best to ever man the blue line in the NHL in this episode of Rinky Dinking.
This past Saturday, @DFWBlindHockey hosted the first Try Blind Hockey for Free event in the DFW area at Children’s Health StarCenter Farmers Branch. Blind and visually impaired participants of all ages took to the ice for the first time to learn the game. #HockeyIsForEveryone

Julius Honka has signed in Europe as he awaits a new scene in the NHL.

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