Almost two years after taking Nick Porco in the fifth round of the 2019 National Hockey League draft, the Dallas Stars still like what they have in the 19-year old winger from Sault Ste. Marie.
Joe McDonnell, who is the director of amateur scouting for the Stars and the person responsible for picking Porco, made that quite clear when talking to Hockey News North.
“We still like him,” McDonnell emphasized. “Obviously last season didn’t go the way he thought it would for Nick but there were a lot of factors that played into that.”
McDonnell was referring to the 18 games that Porco missed due to injury and illness after being traded by the Saginaw Spirit to the Barrie Colts.
Add in the death of his maternal grandfather, who Porco was very close to, and the 2019-2020 Ontario Hockey League season was a so-so one for the lanky forward, who tallied nine goals in 50 games after scoring 20 times in 67 outings in 2018-2019.
With the 2020-2021 OHL season still on hold relative to COVID-19, Porco now finds himself at the training camp of the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, who are the no. 1 farm club of the NHL Stars.
Porco is one of 14 forwards at the Texas camp and along with 18-year old center Antonio Stranges of the OHL’s London Knights, are the only junior age teenagers with the AHL team. Porco and Stranges are both in Texas on amateur tryout contracts.
And that fact is the indicator of what Dallas still sees in Porco, said McDonnell.
“Like I said, we like Nick. He has great speed and he shoots the puck like a pro. He is a great kid with good character so there are no issues there,” added McDonnell.
At the end of the day, it will be up to Porco whether he earns a pro contract from Dallas, McDonnell noted.
“He has got a great opportunity to be in a pro environment with our AHL team in Texas and get a taste of the game at that level. Nick has a lot going for him and it’s up to him to put it all together.
“He is one of 14 forwards down there so I don’t know how much he is going to play. But he is going up against older players in practice and scrimmages and it will be a good indicator to see how he fits in as a pro.
“We drafted Nick because we could see him playing for us in Dallas at some point and we still feel that way. But just like any other prospect, it is all up to Nick,” McDonnell summed up.