1. Would Gurianov Score 25 Goals?
The 2019-20 Dallas Stars would be in serious trouble without the offensive firepower of Denis Gurianov.
Had you posed this question to a follower of the Stars six months ago, they may have given you a funny look. Had you posed it to them one year ago, they may have flipped the question to focus on him securing an NHL roster spot first. And had you asked it two years ago, they may have even deemed you a lost cause.
That’s because it wasn’t long ago that Gurianov was on the verge of falling into a line of first-round draft picks by the Stars that fell short of expectations.
Back in the summer of 2018, Gurianov was labeled as a healthy scratch in five of the seven Calder Cup Finals games between the Texas Stars and Toronto Marlies. He had just wrapped up a 19-goal, 34-point campaign in the regular season, but had only posted two goals and five points in the first three rounds of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The finals didn’t do much to improve the hopes for him as he posted no points and a -3 rating in two games.
By the time the 2018-19 season rolled around, Gurianov had done enough to work his way into an NHL call-up role. He made his debut on Nov. 8 and scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 10 against the Nashville Predators. Following that, he was returned to the AHL for a month before rejoining Dallas from mid-December to the end of February. He then finished the year with Texas.
As the 2019-20 season approached, a lot seemed to be hanging in the balance for Gurianov. He was in the final year of his entry-level contract with the team and while he was only 22, he had yet to earn a full-time spot on the Dallas Stars roster.
It didn’t help when he only spent the first three games of the season in Dallas before being sent back to the AHL.
But on Oct. 16, Gurianov returned to the NHL and has not moved since. And if you’ve kept up with the Stars’ season, you know why.
At the time the NHL hit the pause button on the 2019-20 season, Gurianov led all Dallas skaters in goals with 20 and was sixth among forwards in points with 29. He’s found a way to combine his speed, deceptive shot, skill, and willingness to learn into a full-time roster spot at the NHL level. He’s tied for second in goals scored by rookies, has earned a spot on the Dallas power play, and is quickly becoming one of the team’s most efficient forwards in the offensive zone.
But would he have hit the 25-goal mark? Scoring 25 goals in your first season is a noteworthy feat for any rookie, but it’s all the more impressive for one that seemed to have missed the mark less than two years prior.
With 13 games remaining in the regular season schedule, it seems as though Gurianov would have had a chance to get within striking distance. He had scored five goals against the opponents in the Stars’ final 13 games throughout the 2019-20 season. It may have come down to the final handful of games, but the opportunity was on the table.
But would he hit 25? We’ll have to hope that we get the chance to find out soon.