by Stephen Meserve | AHL On The Beat
Not everyone is ready for the draft on their 18th birthday. The 2012 NHL Entry Draft came and went for Gavin Bayreuther without hearing his name called by any of the NHL’s thirty member teams.
Bayreuther was playing the long game. After a year in the USHL split between Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Fargo, North Dakota, the defenseman enrolled at St. Lawrence University in small Canton, New York. The university is closer to Ottawa than any major American city and is just 30 minutes from the Canadian border. Across four seasons with the Saints, he compiled 111 points in 150 games and ended up on the radar of several NHL teams that had passed him over five years ago at the draft. Bayreuther was the most sought-after college free agent of the year, and the Dallas Stars had a chance to snag a player that would instantly move to the top of their defensive prospect charts.
Dallas deployed all the resources it had on hand to close the deal with the 22-year old. With all the chatter around where teams were going and how Bayreuther would fit into their systems, it ended up being old-school networking that convinced him to choose the Dallas Stars, and ultimately the Texas Stars, to start his professional career.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt when your potential future General Manager, Jim Nill, makes a trip to watch practice in your sleepy college town of just under 7,000 people. However, Dallas had not one but two aces up their sleeve when it came to recruiting Bayreuther. First, the Dallas Stars employ former St. Lawrence forward Rich Peverley in player development. Second, the six degrees of separation type trail that led back to the AHL coaching staff for the Texas Stars.
Current St Lawrence head coach, Mark Morris, knew current Texas Stars assistant coach from their shared time working in the minor leagues with the Kings. Morris coached the Manchester Monarchs while Taylor worked for the ECHL Reading Royals. Morris gave a strong recommendation of Taylor and therefore the Texas Stars as Bayreuther sought his advice on the decision.
And finally, it didn’t hurt that the high temperature in Cedar Park on the day of Bayreuther’s debut was 81°F, twice the high in Canton, NY. After signing an entry level contract with Dallas, he headed to Texas on an amateur tryout.
After his first home game, Bayreuther noted, “First of all, this city is awesome: the weather, the people. Everyone is so nice. The team, the coaches, and the management have all been very welcoming, and I’m very excited to be here.”
Bayreuther is already proving that he’s ready for the AHL game. In his first game, he manned the blue line on the Texas power play and scored his first professional goal.
Texas head coach Derek Laxdal added, “When you sign these kids out of college, there’s ten or fifteen teams trying to sign them. Sometimes they’re thrown in situations. He’s got to earn [those situations], but it’s not like he hasn’t earned it. He has an assist and a goal and has been a bright spot [on the power play] these last couple of games.
“He’s a headsy type defenseman who moves the puck well. He’s got a lot of patience and poise, and he’s got offensive up side. He has areas to work on with his skating. It’s great to get him some ice time here to finish the season, so now he’s been part of the group. He’s a guy you’ll probably see here starting next year, and we’ll try to develop him into a Dallas Star.“
Stephen Meserve is the editor of 100 Degree Hockey, which has covered the Texas Stars since their inaugural season.