FRISCO, Texas — At this time one year ago, Radek Faksa was going through his first development camp as a member of the Dallas Stars organization. The young center from the Czech Republic had gone 13th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and was set to begin his professional career.
Faksa, 19, spent most of last season with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League and despite a knee injury limiting him for much of the second half of the season he still finished with 31 points (9-22-21) in 39 regular-season games. He then added six more points (2-4-6) in 13 playoff games before appearing in a pair of contests for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League late last season, notching one assist.
“Last year, it was so different because I came here I didn’t know what to expect,” he said at the start of this year’s camp. “This year, I know what we will do here and I also know guys in the dressing room. It’s so different but it’s also easier for me. It’s very good for me and I will enjoy it.”
Stars general manager Jim Nill has only been in his current position since late April, but Faksa’s a player he knows well from watching him over the past few seasons and it’s fair to say the veteran hockey man is impressed with the skill set this young prospect possesses.
“He’s a very good player. He had kind of a tough year last year with injuries and I know illnesses and stuff,” Nill said. “This is a big year for him, this year to kind of bounce back. He’s going to be an older guy in junior and he needs to have a strong year but he’s on the right path.”
Nill then talked about how Faksa will return to Kitchener for one more season in the OHL and if things go well, then he will turn pro late next season and finish the year in Cedar Park.
“He needs to go have a good year and he’ll be in the World Juniors with Czech national team and be a leader there. That’ll be a big tournament for him, have a strong year in junior and once his junior year is over, hopefully it’s a long playoff run because they’ve got a good team in Kitchener,” Nill said. “Then after that, he could turn pro and head to Texas.”
Of course, the young centerman gained two games of AHL experience late last season in his very short cameo with Texas, an experience he feels will help him in the OHL next year.
“It was a great experience because it’s men’s hockey, right? All the guys are bigger, stronger and everything, so it was a great experience. I know what to expect next season,” Faksa said. “It’s so different than playing junior hockey. I had two games. I’m glad for the chance.”
Besides this next season being his second in the OHL and him being a year older and with a great deal more experience, one big difference should be that he makes it through the entire season healthy, something he definitely couldn’t say looking back on his first year in the Stars system.
“Yeah, actually my knee’s feeling pretty good. I’ve had a pretty good summer and I’m looking forward to having a good season,” Faksa said.
And even as the young prospect was put through the paces in his second development camp under the Stars umbrella, even he couldn’t help but notice how much things have changed in Dallas over just the past few months.
“It’s good for Dallas that they will finally make the playoffs. Every guy has like the same chance I guess because the GM doesn’t know all the guys here. Maybe that’s good,” Faksa said.