The Dallas Stars signed Roope Hintz to a three-year entry-level contract in May. The 20-year-old forward capped off his second Liiga season with HIFK strong, registering 14 points (3-11-14) to lead the league in scoring in the postseason. He scored 30 points in the regular season and tallied 19 goals to finish among Top 10 in goals. Hintz, who scored a goal in his national team debut against Czech Republic in December, was a candidate to play at the World Championships. However, he couldn’t eventually make the team.
Now Hintz is heading to North America to play for the Texas Stars in the AHL. The Dallas’ second round pick from the 2015 NHL Draft is an impressive skater with terrific mobility and speed. He is able to create separation from opponents in a hurry, both with and without the puck. Possessing good stickhandling and puck protection skills, he has a solid offensive skill set. Hintz is a very interesting prospect, given the fact that he’s 6’3 and skates really well.
However, it was evident during the past Liiga season that he also needs to get much better in some other aspects of the game. He can create high quality scoring chances with his speed but must take advantage of those opportunities more often. He was unable to finish those plays on a lot of occasions. I think that he could show more intensity and become tougher to play against. There was also a lack of consistency last season. He had great shifts in some games, especially towards the end of the season, and even put up five points in the bronze-medal game. There were also times when he was not able to have a significant impact on the ice. It is possible that Hintz could benefit from moving to the wing at some point where he could use his speed even more effectively.
All things considered, Dallas Stars’ fans should still be excited about this prospect. The AHL is a good developmental league and the club has no reason to rush Hintz to the NHL level. A great skater with a lot of skill, if he can improve his finishing ability and consistency in particular, he has a chance to be a key player for the Stars down the road.