Logan Stankoven Apr 18

CHICAGO -- Logan Stankoven said he had no problem being patient.

He's a top prospect for the Dallas Stars, who have plenty of forward depth, so the rookie said he was happy to keep developing in the American Hockey League while the Stars kept winning.

But how much was he feeling that itch to get an opportunity in Dallas?

"Yeah, huge. It's what you dream of," Stankoven told NHL.com on April 6. "So, yeah, it's just nice to get that phone call, to kind of know I was going to get the opportunity to play my first game. I just wanted to make a good first impression."

Since was recalled from Texas of the AHL on Feb. 20, Stankoven has done exactly that. He has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 24 games for the Stars, who won the Western Conference and will play either the Vegas Golden Knights or the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference First Round.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Saturday.

"He's come in and I'd say maybe even exceeded expectations from the start of the year," Dallas general manager Jim Nill said. "There came a time, we had some injuries, we needed a winger, we called him up and he's come in and fit like a glove. Him and (center) Wyatt Johnston have great chemistry, and I think (left wing) Jamie Benn has great chemistry with too. I think it's kind of rejuvenated Benn, so it's been fun to watch."

Stankoven made his NHL debut against the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 24, had his first points (one goal, one assist) against the New York Islanders two days later, when he celebrated his 21st birthday, and his first four-point game (two goals, two assists) against the San Jose Sharks on March 5.

As much as he was producing offensively, Stankoven was impressing with his entire game. His play had Johnston trying to think of what animal to which he'd compare his linemate.

"Honey badger, that's a great (one)," Johnston said, referring to the mammal known for its strength and toughness. "If you're not talking about his skill, he works so hard and he's so hard on pucks. Wins a lot of puck battles and protects the puck really well.

"Then you add that to how well he sees the game and can scores goals, he's got really good vision where he can make a lot of plays. He's definitely elevated us a ton."

Stankoven grew up playing in British Columbia youth leagues. There, he gained an early fan: 8-year-old Connor Bedard, who would be Stankoven's teammate for Canada's gold-medal winning teams in the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships and the 2022 and 2023 World Junior Championships.

"He was (wearing) No. 98 as well when he was younger -- that's not why I wore it -- I was already wearing it, but I remember really looking up to him," said Bedard, 18, the No. 1 pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft. "He's a smaller guy (5-foot-8, 171 pounds) and someone I always looked up to and played against him.

"It's pretty cool to see where he is now, having that relationship with him. I'm happy for him. Obviously, they have a pretty good shot to do something special, so I'm sure he'll have a blast with that."

Stankoven played with Kamloops in the Western Hockey League from 2019-23. His breakthrough season was 2021-22, when he had 104 points (45 goals, 59 assists), third in the league. In 2022-23, he had 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists) in the regular season, then led the Memorial Cup tournament with nine points (two goals seven assists) in four games. Kamloops lost to Peterborough in a tiebreaker to decide which reached the semifinal.

"He's got really good balance on his skates, has a great shot. He's even a really good passer, too, so he's got all the tools to be a really good offensive player," said Anaheim Ducks defenseman Olen Zellweger, Stankoven's teammate for the 2022 and 2023 World Junior teams and with Kamloops last season. "He's got the great shot and the great passing ability. I think that, combined with his tenacity and stuff like that on pucks, make him really dangerous out there."

Kamloops coach Shaun Clouston said Stankoven either won or shared the team's most dedicated player award every season. He said he could have also won most improved player every year too.

"I remember thinking after his 18-year-old (season), 'This guy's good, but how much better can he get?' Because he was so quick, so fast and so tenacious," Clouston said. "Then I just remember thinking back at 19, somehow, he might be our most improved player again.

"That's the thing that's most impressive. Obviously, he's a good player, he's got skill, he's got the work ethic, speed and he's got a great shot. He can play with top players he really gets in and around the net. But the thing that stands out the most is he's really worked for this. There's an impression that the guy's so talented -- and he is -- but he's earned everything."

Stankoven's transition to the AHL, where he played for Texas earlier this season, went smoothly as well. At the time he was recalled, he led the AHL with 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 47 games.

Still, he had to adjust, especially off the ice. He hadn't lived on his own before, so he had to get used to plenty of things off the ice, from finding a place to live to cooking.

"It was a bit of a mess at first, but I've got it all under control," he said.

There were challenges to overcome on the ice too.

"I think the speed and just the size of the players," Stankoven said. "Obviously once you make that jump, everyone's stronger, faster, more skilled, so you have to make heads-up plays. Once you get that first taste of what pro hockey's like, you take some things away from that and know what to work on going into the summer and come back stronger."

Texas coach Neil Graham said Stankoven's season in the AHL set him up for a smooth transition to Dallas.

"He played and was from Kamloops, and now you're asked to play professional hockey," Graham said. "You're not only doing that, but you're in Texas and as far away from home as you can imagine. New country, your parents aren't nearby, no billets … you're setting up everything. There's a lot that goes into it.

"To experience that in the AHL first, now you understand process of being a good professional while living away from the rink. 'Stank' was able to navigate those waters. By the time he went to Dallas, it was routine. He knew exactly what to do."

Stankoven has gotten off to a great start in the NHL. His next test comes in his first NHL postseason, but considering how he's handled everything thus far he should be fine.

"That'll be the next chapter," Clouston said. "I'm sure he'll find a way to contribute like he always does."

NHL.com independent correspondents Taylor Baird and Dan Arritt contributed to this report