Dallas Stars: Mattias Janmark Becoming Full-Time Second Line Forward

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 30: Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars grabs the puck in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on November 30, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Dallas Stars defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 30: Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars grabs the puck in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on November 30, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Dallas Stars defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The month of August is almost here and the Dallas Stars have yet to add a big-name forward for their top six. That may seem risky, but it only further solidifies their belief that Mattias Janmark can and will fill the void.

Every Dallas Stars player has a story. Whether it’s a story about how they got to the NHL or a story about their time in the NHL, each one has a unique tale that separates them from other players.

They may be stories of endurance, luck, hard work, hardship, or a mixture of many elements.

But no Stars player (or NHL player, for that matter) has lived out a similar story to Mattias Janmark over the past two years. And not only does it make him unique, but it also makes him a significant asset to the team.

On October 8, 2015, Janmark did something he had spent his entire life trying to do: he played in his first NHL game. At the time, nobody knew what to expect from him. Would he sink his teeth into the opportunity and become a full-time starter? Or would he become like so many of the other young Stars prospects and fall into a “13th man” role?

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

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  • He started his career as a prospect of the Detroit Red Wings before being traded to Dallas in exchange for Erik Cole on March 1, 2015. He hadn’t been in the Stars’ system more than seven months before he was preparing to make his NHL debut.

    And in game one, Janmark didn’t disappoint. He scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shift and helped the Stars to a 3-0 shutout over the Pittsburgh Penguins. That game kickstarted what would turn into one of the best seasons in Dallas Stars history. It also helped start off a solid rookie campaign for Janmark.

    He would end up scoring 15 goals and tallying 29 points along with a +12 rating while skating an average of 14:10 per game. Those are solid numbers for a rookie.

    But as the 2016-17 season approached, his promising career hit a screeching halt when he was diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans (a rare joint problem in the knee) and underwent surgery to fix the issue. Janmark missed the entire 2016-17 year and there was a chance that he would never fully recover enough to play competitive hockey again.

    His recovery went well, he signed a new contract with Dallas, and suited up for game one of the 2017-18 season. And even after rare, freak injuries tried to rain on his impressive rookie year, Janmark bounced back and put together an even better sophomore season. He finished the year with 19 goals and 34 points while playing all throughout the lineup and in various special teams situations. There were no visible knee problems hindering him as he participated in 81 games and took another step forward in his development. In addition, he also competed in the World Championships and helped Sweden to a gold medal.

    But even with his reinsertion into the lineup and his spectacular showing, the Dallas Stars still couldn’t find their way back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And, as the offseason dissection progressed, depth scoring seemed to be one of the significant road blocks in their eventual stumble to the postseason.

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    So, Janmark was part of the problem, right? Well, no. In fact, he did just about everything he could in an attempt to be the solution.

    Aside from the “big four” skaters on the Dallas roster (Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg), Janmark had the most points of any Stars player last year. In terms of goals, he finished in fourth place, just outside of the top line. While a good chunk of the Stars’ depth players struggled with scoring (especially down the stretch), Janmark was leading the charge and carrying his weight.

    Even after coming off of knee surgery, Janmark found a way to prove himself as a valuable depth player and scorer. And because of that, he will likely serve as a major key to the Stars’ depth scoring success going forward.

    As the 2018 offseason approached, the Dallas Stars compiled their to-do list, figuring out what holes they needed to fill in their team. A new head coach and strong backup goaltender sat at the top of the list, but so did the need for a superstar scorer to add to the second line.

    The Stars checked off the first two boxes but left the third one blank. Instead, Dallas added a handful of forwards simply for extra depth. This left Stars fans confused, though GM Jim Nill sounded confident in his moves and plan on July 1.

    "“I get back to I keep hearing about this “depth scoring.” After 50 or 60 games last year, we were eighth in the league in scoring, and then it dropped off. So, it was there for 60 games. I think that’s an overhyped question and I don’t know why it keeps coming up. I think we can score with anybody and I think we added to that today and with the young players we’re adding.” -Jim Nill"

    Part of this has to do with Mattias Janmark’s surging play.

    If Nill is confident enough in his depth scoring that he didn’t feel the need to go out and add a large piece through trade or free agency, then he must trust Janmark to serve as that full-time second line talent. Jason Spezza will likely serve as the second line center to start the season, but he isn’t what he used to be. And if Valeri Nichushkin is put on the right wing, it may take some time for him to readjust back to the NHL style.

    With that being said, all eyes will be on Janmark to turn into a full-time top six player and produce quality scoring. He could very well be the anchor for the Dallas Stars’ second line this season. That’s crazy to think about for a former third-round pick that’s only played two full seasons in the NHL.

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    But his skills and development speak for themselves. He’s a fast and determined skater with excellent hands, both passes and shoots the puck well, and is a nightmare for defenses when skating through the offensive zone due to his creative side and hockey IQ. He’s played plenty of second line minutes in his first two years (primarily alongside Spezza and Nichushkin during his rookie season) and knows what it takes to produce in the top six.

    Jim Montgomery has spoken about Janmark and how he wants to see the young Swede become the centerpiece of the Stars’ bottom nine forwards. He’s shown in two years that he has the ability to become that and even potentially more.

    Now, of course, there will likely be some growing pains in shifting to this prime role. He will likely hit some bumps and this new confidence from the management and coaching staff will add some more weight to his shoulders.

    But he’s shown in the past three years that even when under immense pressure, he finds a way to adapt.

    There’s reason to believe that with this established confidence in no. 13 and the new role, Janmark could easily break the 20-goal mark this season and even hit 25. He’ll likely be playing more minutes than in his first two seasons and will probably fit better in Montgomery’s “relentless offensive possession” system than in Hitchcock’s “defense first” ideology.

    This bigger role also gives Janmark a chance to prove his value in the hunt for a long-term contract. He signed a one-year contract with the Stars on Wednesday, but could earn himself a three or four year deal depending on how the season goes. It’s a big year for both sides to see exactly where he’s at. But if he can fill the shoes accordingly and give the Stars what they need in terms of second line pressure, he should have no trouble in locking down a new deal.

    Mattias Janmark has been through a lot since Oct. 8, 2015 when he took his first NHL step. It’s come with some pain and endurance, but also with pride and positivity. And that’s what makes his story so unique. Now, he’s setting up to take on a substantially larger role than in years past and be a main catalyst for the Dallas Stars on offense.

    It might sound like a lot, but it will add another impressive chapter in Janmark’s story if he pulls it off.

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    It’s up to Janmark to not only have a big year and prove himself worthy of the bigger role, but also to establish himself as a key piece of the Stars’ future in the process.