Prospect updates: Guptill, Molin, Glennie and more

In the final installment of prospect updates, a brief look at several players. This year’s draft picks were not included nor were some of the goaltending prospects. They were covered in separate posts earlier this summer. Links to those are provided below.

Note: Prospects are listed with the team they are expected to play for in 2013-14.

Alex Guptill, LW, University of Michigan (3rd round/2010)

Guptill got off to a slow start last season, was scratched for a couple of games by head coach Red Berenson, but finally got going and finished strong for the Wolverines in his sophomore season. He registered 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) over his final 20 games and ended up leading Michigan in scoring with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 38 contests. Guptill, who is listed at 6-3, 191 pounds, possesses speed and a nice scoring touch. The Ontario native will return to Michigan for a third season.

“Guptill is a really good prospect. He’ll probably play one more year at Michigan and then turn pro,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “When you look at all the attributes of an aspiring young pro player, he has every one of them. He’s really evolved going into Michigan. Their team last year wasn’t a typical Michigan team, they weren’t as good as they have been in the past, but Alex gets a great opportunity there to play and the coaches have been really good with him. It’s been a good connection for him and I suspect this year he’ll take another big step forward. He’s a pretty impressive young player.”

Emil Molin, LW, Brynas-Sweden (4th round/2011)

Molin got bounced around various levels in Sweden last season. He played 34 games for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League, registering 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). He also played in the second level of Swedish hockey and in juniors. He had a strong showing at the World Junior Championship, registering 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 6 games as Sweden took home the silver medal. Molin, listed at 6-0, 176 pounds, is a slippery, skilled offensive player. He signed an entry-level contract with the Stars last summer.

“Molin is a pretty gifted player. He has a skillset that fits this game over here. He’s got speed, skill and he works,” said Jackson. “He’ll go back and play with Brynas this year and we’ll probably bring him over next year.”

Scott Glennie, RW/C, Texas Stars-AHL (1st round/2009)

Glennie had a rough season in 2012-13. He missed the first part of the Texas Stars’ season due to what the Stars called conditioning issues. He then missed 20 games during the season with a finger injury. He ended up playing 37 games, registering 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists). But he did come on late in the season for Texas and, although he didn’t score, was an effective player for them in the Calder Cup playoffs. The Stars believe the 6-1, 200-pound Manitoba native, who has spent the summer in Dallas working out with Brent Severyn, is poised to take a step forward in the final season of his entry-level contract.

“Glennie had a tough season with his injury, but he really finished the season strong,” said Jackson. “The finger was fine, it might be an ongoing issue with him. He was one of our better players in the playoffs. I think he is growing up and he is maturing. He’ll go back to Texas and I suspect you’ll see him advance as a player.”

Cameron Gaunce, D, Texas Stars-AHL (trade acquisition)

The Stars acquired Gaunce, a defensive defenseman, from Colorado for right wing Tomas Vincour just prior to last season’s NHL trade deadline. Gaunce was assigned to the Texas Stars after the trade, registering 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) and a plus-7 rating in 9 games. Gaunce, listed at 6-1, 205 pounds, signed a one-year, two-way contract in June. He spent part of his summer working out with training guru Gary Roberts.

“Gaunce is a good player. He’ll probably end up back in Texas. He’s got a few things to do in his game to be a good, every shift player down there,” said Jackson. “When we got him he filled in really well down there. With us losing Patrik Nemeth (to injury) he became a good player for us, and picked up some key ice. I suspect he’ll come into camp and do well, but I suspect he’ll need another season in the AHL.”

Jyrki Jokipakka, D, Texas Stars-AHL (7th round/2011)

Jokipakka played in Finland’s top league last season, logging 23:43 of ice time per game and registering 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) in 59 games. After his team’s season ended, he headed to North America to spend some time with the Texas Stars, practicing with the team for a few weeks but not playing in any games. The 6-3, 198-pound Jokipakka, who leans more towards the defensive side of things, will play for the Stars at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. He is expected to play with the Texas Stars in 2013-14.

“He’s been into Texas and practiced with the team and spent some time around the guys. He’s coming to play this year,” said Jackson. “I am kind of excited to see how he does because he’s a good kid who has some good tools. It will be an adjustment for him, but I think he’ll do fine. The first year will be a challenge, but he’s excited about coming and it will be an interesting study for us.”

John Klingberg, D, Frolunda-Sweden (5th round/2010)

Klingberg missed the first 28 games of last season due to offseason hip surgeries. He ended up playing 25 games for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League, registering 13 points (1 goal, 12 assists). He picked up 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 13 playoff games as Skelleftea won the Elite League championship. Klingberg then came over and spent time with the Texas Stars, and played in one Calder Cup playoff game.

“That was a lot of fun,” Klingberg said. “It was very different if you compare it to the Swedish Elite League. It’s a little bit faster here and different hockey, but I like it. I learned every day and it was fun.”

Klingberg, a right shot, is listed at 6-1, 177 pounds. He’s a highly skilled offensive defenseman. He’ll play for the Stars in Traverse City and then head back to Sweden, where he’ll play for Frolunda in the Elite League this coming season.

“We were kind of hoping that this would be his coming out year and he’d join us, but he mentally doesn’t feel good about coming,” said Jackson. “Past experiences have told us if he is not mentally ready then we shouldn’t bring him. Johnny’s had a couple good years. He’s recovered from his hip surgeries. He had a good season last season once he got up and running. I suspect he’ll have a really good season. He’s still developing physically. Depending on how their season goes, he’ll probably join Texas at the end of the season.”

Mike Winther, C, Prince Albert-WHL (2nd round/2012)

Winther got off to a strong start for Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League last season, but tailed off over the second half.

“I lost a little bit of confidence. Things weren’t going my way,” Winther said of the second half struggles. “I just wasn’t playing consistent and to my ability. I learned from last year and I am going into next year with a clean slate, have a good year and focus on being consistent.”

Winther, who is listed at 6-0, 181 pounds, is a strong skating, two-way forward with some good offensive abilities. He’ll play with the Stars in Traverse City and then head back to Prince Albert for the 2013-14 season.

“He’ll be a big player on their team this year. They’ve lost a couple guys, so he’ll be their go to guy up front,” said Jackson. ”Last year he didn’t produce the way we thought he would, but if you go to the games you see that he works and is around things. This year will be a telling year for him, how he expresses himself, how he grows and how far does he get.”

Gemel Smith, C, Owen Sound-OHL (4th round/2012)

Smith had a solid season with Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League, registering 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 61 games. He ranked second on Owen Sound in playoff scoring with 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) in 12 games. The 5-10, 171-pound Smith is a slippery, craftu center with some good offensive tools. He’ll play with the Stars at the Traverse City tournament and play for Owen Sound again in 2013-14.

“He’s had two pretty good seasons with Owen Sound. This year he was one of their leading scorers in the playoffs,” said Jackson. “He’s starting to grow. He’s got really good hands and good instincts offensively. I’d say there is a plus sign on his growth.”

Curtis McKenzie, LW, Texas Stars-AHL (6th round/2009)

McKenzie will become a full-time pro after four seasons at Miami University in Ohio. Last season he registered 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 39 games. After his college season ended he played for the Texas Stars, picking up one assist in five regular season games and no points in two playoff games. The 6-2, 209-pound left wing plays a physical game, is a bit of an agitator and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, something he wasn’t really able to do in college.

“I think the pro game is a lot more fitting to my style of game,” McKenzie said. “That’s why I was excited to move on from college. The four years were great. I improved my skills and my skating while I was there, and I learned a lot. Turning pro, I feel it’s more tailored to my style of game.”

McKenzie will play for the Stars at the Traverse City prospects tournament and is expected to play with the Texas Stars this season.

“He’s a kid that works, is really competitive and is engaged physically. He endears himself to his teammates because he is a tough kid, and he plays for the team,” said Jackson. “I think that short period in Austin last year will help him. He’ll know what to expect coming in during the fall, and that will be good for him. I think the American League will be a good challenge for him, and I think he’ll meet it.”

Taylor Peters, C, Texas Stars-AHL (Free agent/2013)

Peters, who played with Portland of the Western Hockey League last season, signed with the Stars as a free agent in March. He had 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 68 games and 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in 21 playoff games as Portland won the WHL championship and moved onto the Memorial Cup. Peters is a defensive forward and a faceoff specialist.

“Playing in Portland for so long and with the same coaching staff, I developed a reputation and the coaches trusted me to get the job done,” Peters said of his faceoff prowess. “I’d more often than not win the faceoff, we’d get possession of the puck and that is so important in today’s game.”

Peters will play for the Stars at Traverse City and then is expected to suit up for the Texas Stars this coming season.

“He’ll start in Austin. He’s a bottom six kind of forward. He’s a big kid that is good on faceoffs, plays aggressive and skates well,” said Jackson. “It will be a step up for him and it will be interesting to see how he evolves. Taylor is a good kid. He’s honest, he works hard, has a great attitude and he wants to be a player.”

Troy Vance, D, Charlottetown Islanders-QMJHL (5th round/2011)

Vance played last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He started the season with Victoriaville and then was traded to PEI in January. He registered 26 points (4 goals, 22 assists) in 67 games. The 6-5, 205-pound blue liner will play for the Stars at Traverse City. He could turn pro this season, but the Stars are leaning towards sending him back to juniors for one more year.

“He’s kind of a late developing kid. We’re kind of torn with him,” said Jackson. “We’ll probably put him back in juniors because that is where he is going to get his most ice and grow the most. He was a late starter at the junior level and that’s probably the best place, so he’ll get opportunities there that he won’t get in the pros.”

Cody Payne, RW, Saginaw-OHL (Trade acquisition)

The Stars acquired Payne from Boston just prior to last season’s NHL trade deadline in the deal that sent Jaromir Jagr to Boston. Payne, a fifth round pick of Boston’s in 2012, played for Plymouth of the OHL last season. He registered 45 points (24 goals, 21 assists) in 66 games. Payne, who is listed at 6-2, 200 pounds, moves well, plays a physical game and has some offensive skill. He’ll play for the Stars at Traverse City and then play in the OHL for Saginaw, which acquired him from Plymouth in the offseason.

“It will be good for him. It’s a new team and he’ll get an opportunity to play up the lineup, which will help his development offensively,” said Jackson. “He’s a hardworking kid, he’s got some edge to him physically. He’s got a great attitude and a passion to play. It will be interesting to see where he evolves.”

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