Curtis McKenzie is definitely one of the Stars’ less noticeable players. But even without the spotlight, he still knows how to pack a punch.
The Dallas Stars have had their fair share of success stories when it comes to young players over the last few years. Jamie Benn and John Klingberg have really stood out and impressed not only the Stars organization, but the league in its entirety. And they are only two examples.
Of late, however, Curtis McKenzie has been a stand out forward for the team and is taking steps toward being one-third of a dynamic line for the Stars. He’ll continue to grow in his game if he can maintain a few traits.
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Being that he had to work his way up to the Stars through proving himself in the AHL affiliate Texas Stars, McKenzie is not afraid of hard work.
Now that he and Brett Ritchie and Radek Faksa have formed one of the more consistent lines of late for the Stars, his time on ice has increased. However, his determination on the ice has not.
McKenzie is still battling just as hard as he was when trying to find his way into the line-up as he does now. The line he finds himself a part of consists of three highly talented, but also very hard-working, forwards for the Stars.
They have not been given anything and they earned the designation as Dallas’ second line solely from the fact that their play granted them that right. Lindy Ruff is not one to reward absent-minded play and he surely does not have a problem sitting players when they are not performing to expectations.
With McKenzie, though, that has yet to be a problem.
As the game gets faster and the players become more and more skilled, it is increasingly difficult to have a physical component to a player’s game. That is why finding a player with that skill set is so incredibly influential.
McKenzie stands at six feet two inches tall and weighs in at 210 pounds. While that does not make him a particularly large forward in the league, it gives him a leg up on a lot of smaller skaters on the ice.
No. 11 uses his physicality for more than just show, though. He is able to win one-on-one battles in the corner to obtain puck possession for the Stars in both the offensive and defensive zones. He then, in turn, earns Dallas opportunities to score and helps the team overall.
If he can maintain the physical side to his game and focus on building his other skill sets, McKenzie will be a force to be reckoned with in this league before you know it.
McKenzie will not likely ever be a highly notable player in the NHL. That does not, however, mean he is not significant. If the Dallas Stars have learned anything this season it is that the players that find themselves under the radar are a big part of the glue that keeps the team together.
No. 11 definitely finds himself in that distinction.