Last year around this time, the Stars were in a similar, if not better, position to make a run at the playoffs. The fans, players, and organization were hungry for a taste of what they had been missing for the last two years. Then the injuries began to pile up. A number of Texas Stars were called up, among these were Aaron Gagnon, Francis Wathier, and Tomas Vincour. Of these players, Vincour was the most-lauded and highly anticipated. Anyone who watched his long stretch of games with the Stars last season heard it over and over. The kid has NHL-level skill, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts producing and becoming a staple on the lineup. Head coach Marc Crawford bought into this hype, placing Vincour on the third line that included Steve Ott and Tom Wandell instead of making him just a body to fill up space on the ice playing on the fourth line.
A full month passed and Vincour had no points with a -1 plus/minus to show for his first taste in the NHL. That finally changed on March 9th versus the Calgary Flames. Vincour shot a wrister from the half boards and it sailed neatly into the corner of the net, giving Vincour his first NHL goal and point. He would score just one more point, a secondary assist, in his remaining time with the Dallas Stars. His stat line at the end of his 24 game tenure showed 1-1-2 with a -5 rating. No one called for his head, no one said he was a bust. He was just a 20-year old kid who’d been given his first NHL taste. Everyone would have to wait and see what the 2011-2012 season would hold for Tomas Vincour.
It would suffice to say that the Dallas Stars went through a bit of a make over during the 2011 offseason. Marc Crawford was fired and Texas Stars’ coach Glen Gulutzan was brought in. GM Joe Nieuwendyk made moves during free agency, signing players like Michael Ryder, Vernon Fiddler, and Radek Dvorak to create a new core for the team. Training camp rolled around and Tomas Vincour impressed, he was considered NHL-ready, and earned his spot on the opening day roster. He was paired with Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn on that first night against the Chicago Blackhawks, but then saw his ice time drop dramatically each of the next two games (11:55 to 7:48 to 4:58). The addition of Eric Nystrom and a healthy roster necessitated that Vincour be sent back down to Austin, to be given first line minutes with the Texas Stars. Vincour would remain in Austin until late November, when he was called up and had the most productive stretch as an NHL player thus far. He would stick with the team for 11 games, picking up 1 goal and 3 points before suffering a knee injury on December 15th that would sideline him for 14 games. There were just four games remaining until the All-Star break when he returned, and he played in all four but registered zero points.
After chronicling Vincour’s NHL journey over the last two seasons, it boils down to 42 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists, and a -9 plus/minus rating. Vincour hasn’t been producing much offense, but he has shown his value. He played his best NHL hockey at the end of November/beginning of December, averaging over 15 minutes a night for seven straight games. It’s no coincidence it was during that stretch when he picked up a goal and assist. The Stars held on to him but his ice time declined. He was relegated to the fourth line, and did not crack more than 10 minutes of ice time once from December 10th onward.
He’s not a player suited for the fourth line. He shoots the puck, he holds onto the puck, he’s a big body out on the ice who can play both ways. He’s not likely to ever be a prolific superstar scorer in the NHL, but no one expects that of him. He just turned 21, and his time in the AHL this season (17 games played, 11-4-15) shows that he will always be a scoring threat. He provides an offensive punch with defensive stability, and he’s only getting better. Coming out of the All-Star break, it was decided that Vincour would stay in the AHL, and that is exactly what needed to happen. The Dallas Stars are finally healthy, they have a long stretch in front of them, and Tomas Vincour playing less than 10 minutes a night on the fourth line is not the position you want to put a young, developing player into.
Tomas Vincour’s time will come, whether it be this year or next, whether it be with the Dallas Stars or another NHL team, but it is not right now. He’s the kind of player you’ll want to keep an eye on. He has the knowledge and wherewithal to make a difference in a hockey game, and he’s being shaped into a dependable NHL player with a bright future.
Follow Blackout Dallas On Twitter:
Austin Waldron (@BlackoutDallas)
Andrew Monrreal (@ammonrreal)
Tony Jaremko (@TonyJar34)