FRISCO, Texas – Truth be told, there were no surprises at the Stars’ training camp this year.
Management had loaded the list with one-sided contracts and filled all the gaps over the summer, so you could really start inking your list around October 1.
But a funny thing happened on the way to opening night at Madison Square Garden – and it could be a happy thing for Jacob Peterson.
Dallas hosted a trio of Swedish players at the NHL Development Camp and Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, and little was known about Peterson, Fredrik Karlstrom and Oskar back. They were each in their early twenties, and each with a lot of Swedish Hockey League experience.
Not unlike Roope hintz Where Denis Gourianov Where Esa Lindell, they are players trained in Europe who probably needed a year in the AHL before they were ready to help the big club.
But from the start, Peterson seemed a little different. Rated at 6-1, 180, he’s not particularly tall or incredibly fast, but his hockey intelligence is evident. He sees the parts, he knows where to be and he minimizes mistakes. At Traverse City against his peers, he scored three goals in four games. Once the NHL camp started he found himself on a line next to Tyler seguin.
“He looked great and he fits in perfectly with everyone you’ve played him with,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said. “He played with Seggy the other night. Guys love to play with him because he has such good hockey sense and good skills.
That’s a huge compliment when you consider that Peterson has played on much larger rinks in Europe and is adjusting to both the size and speed of the North American game. There isn’t that much time to think it over, but he seems to have a knack for doing it quickly.
“I think it started in Traverse, getting used to the rink and stuff like that,” said Peterson. “With that, confidence comes, so I think it started there.”
Now, trust is being built. He has only collected one assist in four preseason games, but he managed 11 shots on goal and he looks like a perfect fit with Seguin and Alexander Radulov.
“I think his skill is the first thing, but what I noticed right away was his confidence and his wit,” Seguin said. “He’s not a typical rookie. I didn’t know much about him until the first day I saw his name with Rads and I. We hadn’t seen him much at camp and instantly in this. training, he was confident in the drills. I went to help him and he didn’t need my help. You don’t see that too often. Realizing that he’s 22, he once played pro in Sweden , he’s going to be a damn good hockey player. “
Bowness said understanding the nuances of the game is difficult for any young player, but especially difficult for someone whose English is not their first language. But Peterson was a quick study during games.
“What we notice is that the adjustments we make between periods, he understands them,” Bowness said. “Like our failure before was a bit out of structure (against Arizona) at times, so we tried to clean him up on the board between periods, and he got it right away. He knew exactly where he was supposed to be. His hockey sense, his balance with the puck, he’s a very smart player. “
The Stars have an interesting mix in the attacking group. The upper line of the Hintz centering Joe pavelski and Jason robertson seems settled. They could go with a second line of Seguin centering Radulov and Jamie Benn, but they want to try Benn at center after he succeeded in that position last season. So if they have Seguin with Radulov and Benn with Gurianov, that leaves two openings on the left wing. Joel kiviranta should take a look, and the newcomer Michael raffl also received many looks in the preseason.
But it would be hard to say that Peterson hasn’t been so good, and that must open a door for him.
“He’s making plays, he’s eliminating penalties and he’s good on the power play,” Bowness said of his forwards need for versatility at depth. “We want to keep watching him, but he’s put himself in a position, in a serious position, to make the hockey club. He’s been so good.
This story has not been submitted to the National Hockey League or the Dallas Stars Hockey Club for approval.
Mike heika is a senior writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his Podcast.