2010 Calder Cup Finals: Texas Vets, Rookies, and Free Agents Lead the Way

Mike MacDonaldCorrespondent IMay 31, 2010

The Texas Stars will travel to Hershey to play the Bears in the final of the 2010 Calder Cup Championship, which is slated to get under way June 3.

The Stars knocked off the Hamilton Bulldogs in seven games, while the Hershey Bears outlasted the Manchester Monarchs to reach the league finals.

The Texas Stars, the top development club for the NHL's Dallas Stars, have been on a nice run this spring. The club is truly taking advantage of this opportunity to evaluate their prospects, both up-and-coming and some that are already established.

Jamie Benn played in all 82 regular season games for the Dallas Stars this past season, recording 22 goals as a rookie.

While the Dallas club failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Benn was assigned to the Texas Stars of the AHL for their playoff run at the Calder Cup, the American Hockey League Championship. Benn hasn't looked back.

As the final round is set to begin, Benn leads the AHL Playoffs in scoring with 14 goals in 18 games. He also leads the league in points with 24.

Benn, a fifth round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, has seen his stock rise—not only within the Stars organization, but around the league as well.

For Benn, having played in all 82 games for the Dallas Stars in the 2009-10 season, this run with Texas and its success should hold a lot more promise for the 2010-11 Dallas Stars season.

The AHL is the top development league for the National Hockey League. The Calder Cup Playoffs can be just as grueling and riveting. The experience that players like Benn and his Texas Stars teammates endure will help them towards their development of someday becoming everyday NHL players.

With a supporting cast that includes players with previous pro experience like Dan Jancevski, Garrett Stafford, and Landon Wilson, the Stars looked poised entering the Calder Cup finals.

Rookie Travis Morin has played some great hockey this season for the Stars. Morin, who ironically was selected in the ninth round of the 2004 Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals, will play against his former organization in this series.

Morin played just over two seasons with Washington's ECHL affiliate in Charleston South Carolina along with a handful of games with Hershey over that period.

The center had seasons of 36 and 24 goals in the ECHL before cracking the Texas roster and potting 21 this season. At 26, this is his first full season in the AHL, and he is making the most of it. Morin has 13 points in 18 playoff games so far this season.

Although the Dallas Stars didn't get a chance to compete for Lord Stanley's mug, one thing is for sure: The run the Texas Stars have been on has been a great example of how the American Hockey League can contribute to the development of not only veteran players, but also young prospects and those timely signed free agents.

Without this league, I doubt many players who are NHL regulars would have realized their potential.

Good luck to the Texas Stars, and I'm sure we may hear from a few of these names in the future.



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