Stars’ Wyatt Johnston can join exclusive under-21 club in Game 2 vs. Avalanche

Is Wyatt Johnston already Dallas’ best player?

Wyatt Johnston in middle of image looking happy with fire around him, Dallas Stars logo, hockey rink in background

Wyatt Johnston isn’t having his coming out party with the Dallas Stars in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs — that already happened last year. With one standout postseason under his belt, and in just his second full National Hockey League campaign, the 19-year-old has transformed into one of his team’s best players as they battle for Central Division supremacy.

Johnston has a chance to add his name to an impressive group of former players in Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche at the American Airlines Center on Thursday night.

“Wyatt Johnston (5-3—8 in 8 GP) has found the score sheet in six of eight games for the Stars during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the club now requires a rally from a series deficit to advance for the second time in as many rounds,” wrote NHL Public Relations on Thursday.

“He can become just the eighth player age 20 or younger in NHL history with 10 or more points prior to his 10th game of a postseason; Wayne Gretzky (21 in 1981), Sidney Crosby (14 in 2008), Don Maloney (13 in 1979), Glenn Anderson (12 in 1981), Jari Kurri (12 in 1981), Rod Brind’Amour (11 in 1990) and Brent Sutter (11 in 1983) are the only ones to do so.”

It would certainly be elite company if Johnston can find a way to record one more multi-point outing against the Avalanche in Game 2. That’s obviously much easier said than done — especially against a terrific Colorado team — but it goes to show just how effective the youngster has been during this playoff run.

Could Johnston already be Dallas’ best player? His play has earned him a bump to 2C, as well as a promotion to the top power play group. And he’s taking advantage.

Wyatt Johnston could legitimately be Stars’ best player right now

Dallas Stars center Wyatt Johnston (53) chases the puck past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson (3) during the overtime period in game one of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Johnston broke onto the scene in 2022-23, scoring 24 goals and 41 points in his rookie campaign. That’s after he put up a head-turning 124 points in 68 games for the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires the year before.

The Toronto native also came to play in his first postseason, scoring four goals and six points in 19 games as Dallas came within two wins of advancing to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2020.

The moment was never too big for the Canadian; he scored an absolutely monumental third-period goal in Game 7 against the Seattle Kraken in Round 2, helping the Stars reach the Western Conference Final.

Although the Stars would lose to the eventual champion Vegas Golden Knights, it was a coming out party for Johnston in 2023. And he was even better this time around as Dallas exorcised the demons and eliminated Vegas in seven games.

“What a player,” Dallas coach Peter DeBoer said about the 20-year-old. “He still can’t get in the casino and play cards, he’s not old enough, it’s unbelievable. One of … the great young players, the next generation of stars of this league. I thought he was just outstanding for a kid to be under 21 years old and be on that ice with that level. Just an outstanding player.”

High praise from a coach to one of his top young players, and it’s well-deserved. Johnston has legitimately been a top player — if not Dallas’ top player — throughout the postseason. And the five goals and eight points in eight postseason games speaks for itself.

Although some NHL history would be nice, the sophomore will be laser-focused on helping his team knot up what is already a thrilling series in Texas on Thursday night.

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