International Ice Hockey Federation

To Texas with love

To Texas with love

Guryanov patient in Lone Star State

Published 25.04.2017 09:17 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
To Texas with love
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 27: Russia's Denis Guryanov #27 takes a backhand shot on net while Latvia's Tomass Zeile #15 reaches with his stick to defend during preliminary round - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Players from all over the world dream of making the NHL, but for many the road to the big show is winding and requires a steady-and-slow approach.

When you look over the Russian roster at this year’s World Junior Championship, you see a vast majority of players coming from the KHL. You see a smattering of talent playing in the ranks of Canadian junior hockey (three, to be exact), and you see Denis Guryanov coming from the Texas Stars.

The 19-year-old Guryanov is tall (6’2”/1.89m) and lanky (183 lbs./83kg) and has plenty of upside, even though he hasn’t scored here in Toronto yet through three games. A product of Togliatti, Russia, he made his KHL debut early in the 2014/15 season but spent most of that season with the team’s junior affiliate. During that season he played for Russia at the 2015 U18 tournament in Switzerland, scoring six goals in five games.

He impressed NHL scouts, and at the 2015 draft Dallas selected him a lofty 12th overall. After a full year in the KHL, Guryanov signed a three-year entry level contract with Dallas in May 2016, and he attended Stars’ training camp last fall. After some encouraging words he decided to stay in North America to develop with the Dallas farm club.

There was no sense of frustration when he learned he’d been assigned to the AHL. “No, I wasn’t disappointed at all,” he suggested. “It’s actually better because in the AHL they help you prepare for the NHL, so I appreciate the opportunity. My goal is to play in the NHL.”

“The smaller rink is the most obvious adjustment,” he continued. “It leads to more physical play and a faster game. But everything has been great so far because my teammates are helping me out,” he enthused. “I’m already used to American life.”

The speedy winger has 13 points in 25 games so far this season and is enjoying everything about his new life. But in the end, he knows if he’s going to be a regular with Dallas, it’s because he can put the puck in the net.

“They want me to score goals, play well defensively, and help the team win,” he said. “But I know I have to score.”

The players he most admires are Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, two stars of the game who have played at a consistently high level for years. “I learn a lot from watching them play,” Guryanov went on. 

For now, the Stars are happy to loan him to Team Russia for a final U20 tournament, and he’s relishing the chance to help his country win a medal. “I think the level of play between the AHL and the best juniors is almost the same, which is why this tournament is so great,” he said.

The Dallas Stars see the huge upside to Guryanov. He has a great shot and is a superior passer. Add to that his skating and scoring ability, and he might well be a significant player for the team, even though it might take a few years for him to reach his full potential.


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