Dallas Stars: Jake Oettinger Excited For Future With Organization

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Jake Oettinger, 26th overall pick of the Dallas Stars, poses for a portrait during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Jake Oettinger, 26th overall pick of the Dallas Stars, poses for a portrait during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Dallas Stars have had a longstanding problem with developing a franchise-caliber goaltender. They may have solved their problem by drafting Jake Oettinger, and he’s ready for the challenge.

When the Dallas Stars’ representatives took the stage to call Miro Heiskanen’s name at third overall on the first night of the 2017 NHL Draft, goaltender Jake Oettinger sat calmly in the stands with no idea of where he would be heading.

“Through the first 20 or 22 picks or so, you can kind of relax and enjoy it,” Oettinger said of his draft night experience. “But once your range rolls around, you get a little more nervous.”

And the nerves did settle in as it got later and later into the first round and Oettinger’s “range” came into play.

After the Montreal Canadiens selected Ryan Poehling with the 25th pick in the round, a trade was announced. The Dallas Stars sent the 29th and 70th overall picks to the Chicago Blackhawks in order to move up three spots to 26th, which was owned by Chicago. Considering it was such a slight bump, it was clear that Dallas had their eye on someone that they were expecting to go in that range.

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  • Immediately following that announcement, Oettinger’s curiosity peaked.

    “Maybe a little bit,” Oettinger said about if he expected Dallas was trading up in order to pick him. “I looked over at my goalie coach and he kind of signaled, ‘Maybe,’ so I thought maybe, but you never really know until you hear your name called.”

    His name was called a few moments later, considering Dallas quickly locked their pick in following the trade. And with that, Jake Oettinger became the first goalie taken in the 2017 draft and the newest goaltender of the Dallas Stars organization.

    “It’s so cool to have a team draft up and take you,” Oettinger said following the Stars’ development camp on Tuesday. “It says a lot about how they think of me and it’s really cool to think about. I couldn’t pick a better spot than Dallas and it’s a perfect fit for me.”

    And it truly is a perfect fit for both sides. After a stellar freshman season at Boston University that saw him take over the starting role in net and help lead Boston to the Frozen Four Tournament in Chicago, the goaltender obviously has a bright future. The Stars need a bright future for their crease.

    Since Marty Turco bid adieu to the Dallas Stars following the 2010 season, the franchise has struggled to keep a consistent presence in the crease. Instead, they have spent seven years using the free agency and trade markets to find a partner for Kari Lehtonen, who they also acquired via trade.

    Turco is the last homegrown goaltender that the organization has boasted at the NHL level. This has had a substantially negative effect on the Stars, who have been searching for one ever since. In the absence of a franchise goalie, they have not found a capable successor.

    Dallas took a swing with Jack Campbell after drafting him in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft, but after six years of inconsistency and injury, the Stars traded him to Los Angeles.

    That’s why going into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, there was plenty of speculation about the Stars picking a goaltender to develop into a franchise cornerstone.

    And now the Stars are taking a chance on 18-year-old Jake Oettinger.

    “Coming to an organization that believes in you and wants you to be here is so cool,” Oettinger said. “Whenever you’re wanted, it’s always a nice feeling and now it’s just up to me to prove to the guys that I was worth that pick. It’s going to be up to how hard I work and how well I play, but I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity.”

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    Dallas Stars /

    Dallas Stars

    It’s easy to see why the Dallas Stars selected Oettinger. His talents are immense and detailed, especially for a sophomore in college. He’s got excellent positioning in the crease, possesses incredible poise, gives up minimal chances, can handle the puck extremely well, owns a strong glove hand, and stays focused.

    In his freshman season at BU, he played in 35 of the Terriers’ 39 games, posting a 2.11 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Those numbers are impressive for a freshman in the NCAA.

    In other words, he has skills that some current NHL goaltenders do not possess. And he got to show them off at the Stars’ 2017 Development Camp this past week.

    “It was a lot of fun,” Oettinger said. “It was a lot of learning in a short couple of days but I can definitely take a lot out of what I learned this week, and it makes me even more excited to be drafted by Dallas.”

    His five days in development camp offered him a chance to give both the Stars organization and their fanbase a firsthand look at his skill set. Now that it is all said and done with, it’s clear that Oettinger is the real deal. He’s an impressive prospect and has the could very well be the Dallas Stars’ long term solution in the crease.

    “It’s basically from the difference between me now and me potentially being a goalie that does all the hard work and dedication that it takes to get to that level,” Oettinger said when asked about potentially being the next franchise goaltender. “I love to work and I love to get better. If I continue on the path that I am and continue being extremely hard-working and driven, then potentially that could be a possibility one day.”

    His potential would not only lift a lingering burden off of the Stars’ shoulders, but would also give them security for a good 10-12 years. Just think about how nice it would be to have a Jonathan Quick, Marc-Andre Fleury, or Pekka Rinne kind of starter in the crease.

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    Currently, the Dallas Stars have a tandem of Ben Bishop and Kari Lehtonen in net. Both are veteran net-minders and already have a thorough history in the NHL. Bishop, 30, is locked in for the next six years, while Lehtonen, 33, will be a free agent in the next offseason.

    Considering both are in the latter stages of their career, an influx of youth will be necessary in a few seasons. Luckily for Dallas, that gives Oettinger more time to improve at BU and even in the minors. But if he continues on his current path, he could be ready to take on professional hockey relatively soon (in three or four seasons).

    Maybe he serves as backup to Bishop in a few seasons as #30 closes out his starting career in Dallas? After all, Oettinger has watched Bishop extensively and tried mirroring parts of his game after the current Dallas starter.

    “I watched [Ben] Bishop a lot last year and I’m a huge fan of his game. Obviously he’s a little bit bigger than I am, but there is definitely bits and pieces that I can take from his game. I’m a huge fan of his and Kari’s [Lehtonen].”

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    In addition, he also has faith in the Stars’ new tandem, thinking it could be the best in the league in 2017-18.

    Jake Oettinger could be the future in the crease for the Dallas Stars, and that’s no small matter. His presence should excite Stars fans. In ten years, trading up three spots might turn out to be Nill’s deal as general manager.

    But at the moment, he’s just an 18-year-old enjoying life and all the experiences that are coming with it. He’s got a great attitude and a winning pedigree. Not to mention his excitement in regards to being a Star.

    “All the people that I’ve met and all the people that are here are first class and it’s been an awesome week,” Oettinger said about development camp and his first time working with the Stars organization.

    With camp now in the past, Oettinger plans on returning to his home state of Minnesota until the end of the month when he attends the USA World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. Following that, he will finally try and take some time off to spend on the lake and golf course. And after that, it’s back to Boston to tackle his sophomore year.

    Next: Dallas Stars 2017 Development Camp Standouts

    “We have a lot of unfinished business and we’re going to have a really good team next year as well,” he said about next season with Boston. “I couldn’t be more excited to get back there and get working with the guys.”