Stars’ Pollock embracing another season in WHL

FRISCO, Texas — Several weeks ago at the 2014 NHL Draft, the Dallas Stars took Brett Pollock in the second round with the 45th pick. Pollock is an 18-year-old forward (6-2, 182) who just finished his second season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, where he was part of not just a WHL championship squad but also a team that won the Memorial Cup.

However, the seemingly nonstop nature of the past few months isn’t quite over for the young Stars prospect as this week he is among the 35 players participating in the organization’s annual development camp in Frisco.

"Yeah, it’s definitely been a whirlwind of a season. I don’t think you could draw it up any better than it has been, to kind of start the year like I did and then to finish it off and win the Memorial Cup and go to the draft and be here today, it’s definitely a special year and nothing’s really compared to this so far in my hockey career," Pollock said earlier this week. "I’m just happy where I’m at right now and keep moving forward."

A native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, this past season was his second with the Oil Kings and after registering just four points in 40 games during the 2012-13 campaign, he delivered in a big way last season with 55 points (25-30-55) in 71 regular-season games and added another two points in the Memorial Cup playoffs.

Pollock is set to spend one more year in the WHL to further his development, but there’s little doubt where his strengths lie.

"I think my offensive game, for how big of a guy I am I feel like I can find those little seams pretty well for my size, and my vision is one of my strengths as well as my puck skills and my shot," he said. "I think my offensive game is definitely my area of strength and I think moving forward, I definitely want to become stronger and bigger. I really want to work on my strength and my size, that’ll bring a lot more confidence in my game."

Last season with Edmonton, he played against Stars 2014 first-round pick Julius Honka, who was with Swift Current of the WHL. And Honka offered a ringing endorsement of his fellow draftee during development camp.

"Good player," Honka said. "Good skater, fast, strong, always hard to play against those guys. I think he is a good draft pick for the Stars too."

While listed as a winger, Pollock admits he is also pretty comfortable playing center, a position he hopes to see more regular ice time at in the coming season, which will mark his third in the WHL.

"I’m not too sure (whether I’m better on the wing or at center)," he admitted. "I’ve had more success on the wing after playing there last year, but I’m comfortable in the middle as well. I’m sure I’ll get some looks at it next year in Edmonton."

One aspect of playing center he is pretty comfortable with is taking face-offs, an area where he admits he can improve but also one he feels pretty good about.

"Yeah, I’m not too bad," Pollock said. "I wouldn’t say I’m one of the best faceoff men in the league or anything like that but no, I can hold my own in the circle."

In the WHL, he’s also seen regular time on the Oil Kings’ power play, something else which figures to continue as his career progresses.

"I was kind of all over the place, whether it’d be down low or on the half wall or up at the point. But I think that’s one of my strengths as well, is on the power play. I feel like I can find those seams and find those open areas," Pollock said.

The young winger looks up to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews not only for what he brings to the ice but also for what he brings to the room.

However, there is another current NHLer he really tries to pattern his game after, Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen.

"I think when he played junior, he was a little lankier like myself and he really grew into his frame. I think once I get older, that’ll be more of my body type," Pollock said. "I think he’s playing about 210 pounds right now. That’s what I want to develop into and I think his offensive instincts and the way he skates and sees the game is similar to my style as well."

This week, Pollock is focused on getting acclimated to his new organization and getting on the ice with his fellow prospects. But once this camp is in the books, he will finally get some time off and then, he and sit back, take a breath and completely digest all the good things that have happened to him over the past few months.

"That’ll come after the camp. Been a pretty quick turnaround from the Memorial Cup to the combine to the draft, so now I’m here. I guess when I get home, I’ll sit down and kind of reflect on everything that’s happened so far," he said.