Next step: Blumel looks to take advantage of opportunity in NHL
Matej Blumel is dealing with a lot of changes right now.
The native of Czechia was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2019, but was let go by the Oilers in the summertime as they decided not to offer him a contract. He signed a free agent deal with the Stars and came over to participate in the NHL Rookie Tournament in Traverse City, Mich. He went to training camp in Cedar Park, came back to Dallas with the team and participated in the preseason schedule, and then headed back to Cedar Park to continue his North American career.
Then, on Wednesday, he was getting ready for his sixth AHL game when he learned he wasn’t in the lineup for the Texas Stars, despite being their leading scorer.
“I came to the locker room, and I wasn’t in the lineup, I was freaking out,” he said. “I thought I did something bad or had some mistakes in the game, and I wasn’t going to play. Ended up the best way it could.”
Blumel was called up to join the NHL roster, a move that wasn’t a surprise to those in Dallas. Jacob Peterson has been up and down this season and was about to cross a games-played bridge that would eliminate his waiver protection. Because the Stars wanted to allow Peterson some development time and didn’t want to expose him to waivers, the decision was made to send him down this week.
That meant a forward had to be called up, and Blumel was the natural choice. He has five goals and three assists for eight points in five AHL games, and he looks like a player who is ready to take the next step.
“He had a great camp, had a fantastic start in the American League, which is a tough league to score in, and he scored just about every night down there,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “I’m a fan. I liked him in camp. He was a hard guy for us to cut. He made it hard for us to cut him.”
As the Stars learn more about Blumel, they are impressed with his skillset. Listed at 6-0, 200, he’s not huge or exceedingly fast. However, he has a knack for scoring, and he’s shown that in Traverse City and in the AHL. That’s a nice trait to have when coaches are looking to see who could help their team. DeBoer was impressed with how the young forward reacted to his cut, and how he responded in the AHL.
“He handled it exactly the way you want a young guy to handle it,” DeBoer said. “He went down and showed us that he belongs up here.”
Now that he’s back up, the next step is to get into a game and show what he can do at the NHL level. Blumel’s excited about the opportunity. He played two seasons in the USHL, including a 60 point (30 goals, 30 assists) performance in 58 games for Waterloo in 2018-19. He then played three seasons in the Czech League while waiting for Edmonton to make a decision.
Now, he’s found a home with the Stars, and he wants to take advantage of every chance he gets.
“You live for this moment, so it’s a dream come true,” he said of getting the call-up. “I hope another dream come true is going to come soon- to play out there. But I’m so happy to be here. This is what I have worked for.”
If what he’s done is any indication, that dream could become a reality.
“He’s going to get an opportunity,” DeBoer said. “He’s going to get one soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he – he looks like the kind of kid that might grab it and never look back.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.