Logan Stankoven was very close to making the Dallas Stars NHL club out of training camp. Politics aside, he is back in junior this year with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League as they prepare to host the Memorial Cup tournament at the end of this year. This and making the NHL team next time have given Stankoven some motivation and spark to start the year.
Stankoven is averaging more than 2 points per game this year (20 in 9 games) after putting up 104 points in 59 games last year. As if last year’s production was not enough to show his talent, he is now in the fight to reach the NHL as an undersized forward.
Today, we are looking at comparable undersized forwards to look at their hockey journeys and what Stankoven can model to succeed at the NHL level. Most of his comparables don’t have actual glaring weaknesses in their hockey abilities, since most have reached the NHL. However, size seems to limit these players’ opportunities. Stankoven should look to these players to maximize his skillset to meet NHL ‘undersized player’ standards.
First of all, Stankoven’s player breakdown is as follows:
Logan Stankoven – C – 5’8”
He’s a fearless puck carrier, always driving the inside, and never shy about setting up shop near the net front off of the puck. He plays a north-south game and always attacks at an unrelentingly high pace. The mechanics behind his shot are so clean, exerting downward force while pushing his top hand off his body. (Elite Prospects)
Pro – most if not all hockey-related mechanics and skills are NHL-ready
Perceived Con – size is thought to limit these skills from being consistent in NHL games
NHL Player comparisons:
Alex Debrincat — RW — Ottawa Senators — 5’7”
Drafted: Round 2, 39th overall by Chicago in 2016
Best statistical season: ‘21-22 NHL Chicago — 41 goals, 37 assists, 78 points in 82 games
Draft Year Production: 101 points in 60 games (OHL – 1.68 points per game)
“His lack of size has not kept him from becoming one of the NHL’s most prolific goal-scoring threats. He is fast, quick to hit holes, and shifty enough to maneuver around opposing defensemen. He has an excellent work ethic and drives to succeed. His play without the puck is improving and he is becoming a better passer, which only figures to make him even more dangerous as a scorer. Long Range Potential: Smallish but elite scoring winger.” (Sports Forecaster)
Pros – NHL Shot, speed, hands
Perceived Cons – size, ability to take hits
Conor Garland — RW — Vancouver Canucks — 5’10”
Drafted: Round 5, 123rd overall by Arizona in 2015
Best statistical season: ‘21-22 NHL Vancouver — 19 goals, 33 assists, 52 points in 82 games
Draft Year Production: 129 points in 67 games (QMJHL – 1.93 points per game)
“The diminutive forward plays a lot bigger than his size. His skating skills help him create space along the boards, and he is more than willing to get in the face of opposing checkers. He excels at setting up teammates but can also finish. Has improved his play away from the puck but still needs improvement in his overall game. Long Range Potential: Speedy, energetic forward.” (Sports Forecaster)
Pro – NHL hands, IQ, speed
Perceived Con – size, injury-prone
Cole Caufield — LW — Montreal Canadiens — 5’7”
Drafted: Round 1, 15th overall by Montreal in 2019
Best statistical season: ‘21-22 NHL Montreal — 23 goals, 20 assists, 43 points in 67 games
Draft Year Production: 41 points in 28 games (USHL – 1.46 points per game)
“A big scorer with the U.S. National Team Development Program and at the University of Wisconsin, he is being counted on to be a major producer at the NHL level–despite being just 5’7”. Has a great shot, knows how to find holes in the defense, and can get the puck on the net quickly. He is willing to get his nose dirty to score. His play off the puck is still a work in progress, but he has offensive skills that cannot be taught. Long-Range Potential: Supremely talented, high-scoring winger.” (SF)
Pro – elite shot, playmaking abilities
Perceived Cons – Size, off-puck play and physicality
Outlier: Joseph Garreffa — C — Ljubljana (ICEHL – Austria) — 5’9”
Undrafted, No NHL games
Draft Year Production: 60 points in 68 games — (OHL – 0.88 points per game)
Joseph Garreffa is an outlier in this situation because of how his career turned out, and not because of a lack of production (for the most part). In his draft year, he put up nearly a point-per-game in the OHL, followed by 3 great seasons of 65, 87, and 90 points. Undrafted each year, he then spent time in the ECHL where he put up a point-per-game as an ECHL rookie but was only given 2 pointless AHL games (pun intended).
After this, his production began to decline and he is now in Austria and likely to spend his professional hockey career throughout Europe and secondary leagues like some talented hockey players have to do. It is surprising that he was not given any professional hockey opportunities even at the ages of 20 and 21 with high production wherever he was playing.
Pros – speed, hands, work ethic
Cons – size, body positioning
Compared to the previous three comparables, his draft-year junior production is not close to theirs, but his positive traits of speed and work ethic should have given him at least an extended AHL chance. However, not every case should be treated equally, and the same goes for Stankoven.
3 Things Stankoven Can do to Prove Himself
- Goal-scoring: whether he gets the NHL opportunity or not, the Dallas Stars will keep taking notice of Logan Stankoven if he continues to obliterate competition at the levels he’s placed at. Among all the metrics that NHL teams could use for prospect evaluation, goals are the legitimate measure of wins and losses. Dallas won’t be able to ignore Stankoven if he keeps scoring.
- Work ethic: Most coaches continue to praise that work ethic will lead to opportunities for younger players. Logan Stankoven is one of the hardest working junior players who helped him earn the co-captaincy in Kamloops last year and solo captaincy this season. The harder he works, the more chances he will have to make Dallas’ roster.
- Hockey IQ: Further to his hockey abilities, his on-ice smarts contribute positively to his playmaking results, where he can create space for his teammates and take on opponents by himself if needed. Doing this at NHL speed is critical for a player like Stankoven to be able to leverage his skillset.
Logan Stankoven Conclusion
As we’ve learned from reports and journeys of other similar-sized hockey stars, the drive to succeed combined with individual talent can lead to a professional hockey career. Stankoven is only being compared to these smaller forwards in this article because of a common hockey industry bias that undervalues shorter players.
Otherwise, he could be compared to some of the best hockey players in the NHL when we look at his current pre-NHL production. Nevertheless, I hope this piece sheds light on shorter players who made it big in the NHL to give Dallas fans and Logan Stankoven some hope going forward that he will become an NHL star.