It’s been a year since Patrik Nemeth did his best Bobby Orr impression.
The Swedish defenseman skated the length of the ice at St. John’s Mile One Centre, toe dragged an IceCap defender, and lofted a silky backhand over Michael Hutchinson’s glove in overtime.
It was — by far — the biggest goal in franchise history and gave the Texas Stars a chance to hoist the Calder Cup.
One year later the Stars — both Texas and Dallas — are ready to reap the benefits from that champagne-soaked celebration on a rock in the Atlantic Ocean.
The well-known prospects grew up, while unknown assets were mined into potential future Stars.
Brett Ritchie morphed into a clutch goal scorer.
Shaking off an ankle injury, Ritchie scored in each of the final three games — all overtime victories in front of a hostile St. John’s crowd.
Radek Faksa laid the foundation to become a shut-down center in the NHL. Throughout the playoffs he frustrated opponents, giving Dallas’ brass a glimpse of his potential, which unfortunately was sidelined by a shoulder injury this past season.
On draft day Curtis McKenzie and Jyrki Jokipakka weren’t considered cornerstones of the Stars future.
McKenzie was a unheralded sixth-round pick in 2009. Jokipakka was a seventh-round pick in 2011 and his funny-sounding name grabbed more headlines than his potential.
But a championship run changed that.
Jokipakka recently signed a two-year, one-way contract with Dallas and will be a key cog in the NHL defense next season.
McKenzie split time between the NHL and AHL this season. It won’t be much of a split when the NHL season starts in October.
Both launched their stock skyward during the 2013-14 season and further earned an NHL opportunity during the Calder Cup run.
Even those undrafted, then AHL-contracted players parlayed the Calder Cup into organizational depth.
Brendan Ranford and Justin Dowling each seized NHL contracts. Ranford made his NHL debut this past season, while Dowling was on the cusp of an NHL opportunity.
While Dallas is salivating over the growth on offense and defense, the championship created a couple “what if?” story lines in the crease.
Jack Campbell was a spectator in the finals, a product of another injury suffered in a young career that’s been saddled with setbacks.
Cristopher Nilstorp’s play in the playoffs could have been worthy of an NHL backup job with Dallas — a clear position of need — if he wasn’t 30 years old.
However, no one from Dallas is losing sleep over a championship.
In fact, some new dreams were born as Texas hoisted the Calder Cup.