Czech Republic native Radek Faksa was drafted 13th overall by the Dallas Stars in 2012 for his goal-scoring prowess, and that skill has been on full display so far in the young OHL season.
Faksa, playing in his third year with the Kitchener Rangers, has lit the lamp six times in the first four games of 2013-14 -- good for tops on his team.
The 19-year-old center hope to remain in the NHL this season, but the Stars and new head coach Lindy Ruff felt it was best for his long-term progression to have one more year in juniors. Faksa missed considerable time last year with an MCL strain, and only skated in 39 contests.
Along with his minutes, Faksa's numbers dipped in 2012-13, as well. After potting 29 goals in 62 games with the Rangers in '11-'12, he amassed just nine tallies last year.
The young European now finds himself in the midst of a pivotal campaign that could determine his future with Dallas.
"He just needs that little extra step, that little extra quickness," Ruff said. "There were a couple of times where he was just a step away from getting an inside edge on a defender to get a shot away. Some of that is hands, and some of that is just a quicker step that will come. But he defends well."
If Faksa can return to form in Kitchener, he should be able to make the Stars out of camp next September. He's close to ready to making that jump, but he knows he still has a lot to prove before he can don an NHL sweater.
"It's a very big year," Faksa told the Dallas Morning News. "I will be in junior for the full year, and I will be a leader on my team. Everyone will be expecting big things from me because I'm a first-rounder, and I have big hopes for the future."