The Dallas Stars have to be happy about taking a waiver on a little-known college free agent out of St. Lawrence University two years ago. Gavin Bayreuther has proven to be a more than capable pro, successfully translating his game from NCAA level. After back-to-back strong AHL campaigns, as well as 19 NHL games this past season, Bayreuther has been rewarded with a new contract. Dallas has announced a one-year, two-way extension with the blue liner. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
Bayreuther, 25, is a New Hampshire native and the cousin of former Stars teammate Ben Lovejoy, who also grew up in New England. An undrafted prospect out of The Holderness School, Bayreuther played on season in the USHL before enrolling at St. Lawrence, where he immediately became a force on the blue line for the Saints. Over four seasons, Bayreuther compiled 111 points in 142 games and twice led the team in scoring. His play caught the attention of Dallas, who signed him to a two-year entry-level contract after graduation. It paid off immediately, as Bayreuther continued to dominate as a puck-moving defender, recording 32 points in his first pro season to lead all defenseman in scoring for AHL Texas, proving he was an NHL asset. He added another 25 points in just 53 AHL games this year, but also added five NHL points over 19 games with Dallas.
The challenge moving forward for Bayreuther is no longer to prove he belongs in the NHL, but to prove that he is more worthy of starts and ice time than his many competitors. The Stars are deep on the blue line, led by the likes of John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, and Miro Heiskanen. Veterans Roman Polak and Andrej Sekera will also have a leg up in the position battle, as will the re-acquired Jamie Oleksiak. That potentially leaves one roster spot available for Bayreuther, Taylor Fedun, injured Stephen Johns, and still-unsigned restricted free agents Julius Honka and Dillon Heatherington to fight over. It won’t be easy for Bayreuther to crack the NHL roster or even ensure that he spends considerable time at the top level this year, but if he continues to produce regardless of the level, the Stars may be left with little choice but to give the young rearguard a regular role.