Brandon Magee has impressed against NHL competition. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
CEDAR PARK — Jordie Benn couldn’t remember why he recognized Brandon Magee’s name on the Dallas Stars training camp roster.
Magee wasn’t drafted by Dallas, or any NHL organization, and at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds he doesn’t have the physical size that stands out on paper.
But, for some reason, the name stuck in Benn’s head. And, once he saw Magee’s face at camp here in Cedar Park, everything clicked.
“It’s kind of cool,” Benn said. “I couldn’t put two and two together until I saw his face. It’s just kind of cool to have another little guy that’s experienced the island.”
‘The Island’ refers to Victoria, BC where Benn and his brother, Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, grew up. The past couple years the Benns have skated at home during the summer with players from the WHL’s Victoria Royals, where Magee played from 2011 to 2015.
And if the Benns are the favorite sons, Magee is the beloved adopted child who made a name for himself in Victoria.
Magee set a franchise record with 235 career points in four seasons with Royals, but drew little professional attention after his junior career ended.
He attended NHL training camp with the Calgary Flames last fall and was an invitee to the Montreal Canadians development camp earlier this summer. Neither team invited him to training camp and Magee was working on his own this summer, until Dallas invited him to training camp and the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.
And Magee has seized that opportunity.
In Traverse City he centered a line of free agent invitees with Mads Eller and Chase Witala. He played in all four games and provided a spark for the Stars prospects in the tournament.
Magee built on that momentum and carried it into training camp in Cedar Park.
He didn’t look out of place against NHL talent, and scored a nice goal against Kari Lehtonen in the Victory Green vs. White Scrimmage on Sunday.
“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind,” Magee said. “Flying everywhere lately. And, I’m just trying to take it all in day-by-day.”
He’s also been trying to soak up as much information as possible, listening closely to coaches and NHL players.
Having an “in” with the Benns has helped.
Jordie Benn, right, has been impressed with Magee’s play in camp. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Benn said he’s been able to ‘BS with’ Magee and he’s been impressed with the 21-year-old’s performance in camp.
“We keep it casual,” Benn said. “But, on a serious note. He’s impressed me.”
And Jordie Benn is the career model that Magee wants to follow.
Benn worked his way up from the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings to the the Dallas Stars, with stops in Allen and Cedar Park along the way.
Now as a member of the Dallas Stars, outside prognosticators keep predicting his demise. But, Benn continues to contribute at the NHL level.
Benn said he sees a little bit of his story when he looks at Magee.
No matter how impressive he’s been in camp, Magee is most likely going to start the season with the Idaho Steelheads, where he’s already signed to an ECHL contract.
There’s simply too many players on NHL or AHL contracts above Magee on the depth chart. So he’s destined for Idaho, but will be looking for his first opportunity with Texas.
“Absolutely. Obviously, it’s been a dream of mine since Day 1 — since I started watching and playing hockey,” Magee said. “You want to play in the NHL. I think there is a lot of doubters there obviously. And, you know, you don’t get a chance right away. But, if you stick with it and keep working hard you can prove people wrong.”