Dallas Stars: Mattias Janmark Providing Skill, Flexibility In Second Year

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Mattias Janmark
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Mattias Janmark /

At one point, he was nothing more than a prospect acquisition for the Dallas Stars at the 2015 trade deadline. But almost three years later, Mattias Janmark is proving to be one of the most influential forwards on the Dallas roster. His performance has us asking one question: what knee injury?

It’s March 1, 2015 and the Dallas Stars are in trouble. Their defense is lacking in experience and structure, their goaltending is struggling to play with consistency and depth, and their offense cannot carry the entire load.

As a result, some changes have to be made. With the trade deadline looming, GM Jim Nill sends veteran forward Erik Cole and a draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings for two prospects and a pick. Those prospects are Mattias Backman and Mattias Janmark.

At the time of the trade, it doesn’t seem like anything more than a prospect dump by the Wings that will add to the Stars’ farm system talents. Neither player had ever skated in an NHL game before and looked as though they were still a few years off from competing.

That being said, people were surprised when the Stars announced that Mattias Janmark would be in the starting lineup for opening night in 2015. The shock multiplied all the more when Janmark scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shift less than two minutes into the game.

Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars /

Dallas Stars

But that’s just what Mattias Janmark does. He constantly exceeds expectations and brings a new element to the Stars.

In his rookie season, Janmark took the reins as a confident depth scorer. He put up 15 goals and 29 points in 73 regular season games, along with a +12 rating. That success transferred into the postseason where he put up two goals and five points in 12 games. Janmark is a key piece of the Dallas offense and always provides a spark when on the ice.

And that spark was dearly missed throughout the entire 2016-17 season as Janmark recovered from an injury.

Janmark was diagnosed with a knee condition called osteochondritis dissecans just before the season started and needed surgery to fix it. There was a chance that Janmark would never play the game of hockey again, but the surgery was successful and set no. 13 on the long road to recovery.

“It’s hard to learn and it’s a totally different thing when you get back down,” said Janmark. “But yeah, I definitely got a different perspective and you try and do the best you can out of it and bring that with you.”

Janmark missed the 2016-17 season, one in which the Dallas Stars offense went flat compared to when he was in the lineup during his rookie year. But after a year of uncertainty regarding whether he would ever play again, Janmark is back and arguably better than ever.

“Good. It’s been good,” Janmark said when asked about how his knee feels. “At first, it was a little bit of a question mark. But when you get into it and get a good response, it feels good.”

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Mattias Janmark- The Underrated Edmonton Oilers Forward
Mattias Janmark- The Underrated Edmonton Oilers Forward /

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  • Janmark has played in each of the Dallas Stars’ 53 games this season and has once again provided offensive efficiency. He just tallied his 15th goal and 29th point of the season on Saturday night to tie his career-high totals in each category. The only difference is that he did it in 20 less games.

    In his sophomore season, Janmark is showing no signs of a slump and is producing at a consistent rate for the Stars.

    “I just try to play my game and get back to where I was and play my hardest,” said Janmark. “I’m getting to play a lot this year, so that helps of course, and I get to play with good players. I haven’t really done anything special. Just trying to work on my game and play the way I know it.”

    Throughout the course of his rookie year, Janmark defied expectations and gave the Stars another weapon in their offensive ranks to use when needed. This year, he’s providing that same potential, but he’s doing it in a much more focused light. Part of that is due to what he’s learned about the game from his rookie season to now.

    “I think I just know the way the game works now,” Janmark said. “Two years ago, I wasn’t skating as much and didn’t play as much. This year, I’m skating more and I’m a little more patient and confident and stuff like that.”

    His confidence is showing through his play, and that in turn is providing him with more opportunities on the ice. Janmark is skating an average of 17:06 per game this season, almost three minutes higher than in his rookie year. His impressive performances give head coach Ken Hitchcock that many more reasons to trust him with extended playing time.

    “I think he had a slow start because he was out a year,” said Hitchcock. “You’re worrying and wondering all the time and every day, ‘Am I going to be okay? Am I going to be okay?’ But now that he’s comfortable playing, now we’re seeing a hell of a player.

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    “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for how good he can be. And now there’s no worrying. He just comes to the rink and is a normal hockey player. And now you’re seeing him get extended time with us and he’s playing big minutes. I think he plays the third or fourth most minutes as far as a forward goes. He’s effective in every zone and is a dynamic player.”

    In his sophomore year, Janmark is playing in a variety of different situations, including on the power play where he has three goals and an assist this year.

    But it’s not his ability to play in multiple scenarios when on the ice that makes him so effective for the Stars. Instead, it’s Janmark’s ability to play with any set of forwards and anywhere throughout the lineup, whether it’s the first line or fourth line. He can perform and produce and add an additional jolt to any forward combination on the Dallas roster, and that’s what separates him from most depth forwards.

    “It’s nice to play with different players and when you get a chance to play on the first line, it’s for sure good,” said Janmark. “Obviously, I think you eventually want to settle with a line kind of like the [Radek] Faksa line. I think that’s the way to proceed. But whatever the team needs, I try to do. Eventually, you would maybe want to find chemistry on a line and keep playing on that line.”

    Janmark has played with a various number of forwards this year, ranging from Jason Spezza and Devin Shore to Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov.

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    With Janmark’s presence in the lineup, the Dallas Stars are bouncing back in a big way on offense this season. Their talent and skill is carrying them a long way, and no. 13 is playing a much bigger role in that than most people may see or think.

    “I think we have a great offense in here and we know it,” Janmark said. “At the beginning of the season, there was a lot to learn. I think we have a good all-around game and we know that when we play our game our offense is going to click and we’re going to score goals. We know we have huge firepower in here.”

    With 29 games remaining in the season, the Dallas Stars are in the middle of a Western Conference dogfight. Only four points separate five teams in the wild card race and every point is critical. The Stars took a big step forward in keeping themselves in the race on Saturday night by beating the Minnesota Wild 6-1. Janmark scored the first goal in the game and helped pace the Dallas offense while skating on the third line. While it was a solid win, Janmark knows that there is still plenty more to be done.

    “You just need to keep on winning and as soon as you start losing, you’ll be out of it,” said Janmark “It’s a must-win situation and you try to look up more than you look down. I think we’re trying to get into the top three in our division right now and that’s where we’re trying to go.”

    The Dallas Stars sit in sole control of the first wild card spot in the West right now and are three points back of third place in the Central Division. Their defense is gelling and their goaltending is forming a confident two-headed unit. As a result, the Stars are seeing solid success. But for their playoff hopes to stay alive, they will need consistent effort on offense. Janmark looks as though he could be a major key in that.

    “That’s what you want,” Janmark said about how the team has gelled this season. “It’s a process and you need to be going the right way and I think we’ve been able to do that for most of the year. That’s the way we have to keep going because it’s not going to settle. We need to keep moving forward like we are.”

    Three years ago, Mattias Janmark looked like nothing more than a prospect acquisition that may or may not pay off for Dallas in the long run. But here we are three years later, and the 25-year-old Swede is providing the Stars with a dynamic presence on offense that can fill just about any void they have. His impressive speed and accurate shot make him a quality asset for the Dallas offense.

    And now, he seems to be heating up just at the right time. Janmark has three goals in the past five games and has taken 12 shots over the span. Janmark is fifth in points on the Dallas Stars, with only the “big four” (John Klingberg, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov) above him. He’s finding a way to contribute in every situation and is clicking on every offensive line.

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    With the postseason race heating up more and more by the day, the Dallas Stars are lucky to have a young and confident forward like Janmark in the lineup. Considering what he’s already done for the team in just two years, this move is yet another steal by GM Jim Nill. Janmark’s poise and promise for the future make him an impressive and extensive asset for the Stars.

    What knee injury were we talking about again?