Veteran Tanev and emerging star Johnston share same Stanley Cup dream

Dallas Stars teammates Wyatt Johnston and Chris Tanev are at different points in their respective NHL careers, but the two continue to have the same goal in mind.

Veteran Tanev and emerging star Johnston share same Stanley Cup dream

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While one is a veteran stay-at-home defenceman and the other is a dynamic second-year forward, Dallas Stars teammates Chris Tanev and Wyatt Johnston both share the same Stanley Cup dream.

There is no shortage of differences between the two years in the NHL, games played, and playoff experience, just to name just a few but  34-year-old Tanev and 21-year-old Johnston are both playing key roles for a Stars team that is now one step away from the Stanley Cup Final.

In his 13 playoff games this year, Johnston has scored seven goals, two of them game-winning tallies, and posted 11 points.

He has also put his name alongside one of hockey’s all-time greats.

On May 13, a day before he turned 21, Johnston joined Wayne Gretzky as one of only two players to have recorded a power-play goal and short-handed goal in a playoff game before the age of 21. The feat also put him in elite company among some notable names who have had more than one multi-goal playoff game before turning 21.

“It’s really cool,” Johnston said of his record-tying feat, which he captured during Game 4 of a second-round series victory against the Colorado Avalanche. “He’s the greatest to play the game so to be able to do something that only he’s done is a really cool feeling.”

After a 2022-23 rookie season that saw him score 24 goals and net 41 points en route to NHL All-Rookie Team honours, Johnston continued to shine as a sophomore, posting 65 points in 82 games.

The 23rd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft has been equally impactful in the playoffs.

“One thing that I learned about myself this postseason is that I can be a big contributor to this team,” said Johnston. “I’m still really young and trying to improve each year and I feel really good with where my game is at compared to last year.”

Johnston’s teammate Chris Tanev, with 54 NHL playoff games to his name, has seen playoff action with three different NHL teams over his career.

After being traded to Dallas from Calgary this past February as part of a three-team deal, Tanev, has made a seamless transition to his new team.

His blue-collar game has been a perfect fit on the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.

“It was going in having an open mind and a willingness to learn and do what it takes to try and be the best you can for the team.”

Tanev, who knows the Western Conference well from his 10 years playing with Vancouver and four-plus with Calgary, was warmly welcomed after news of the trade broke.

“Everyone has been great to me, from management to coaches and the guys. I didn’t know too many of the guys, so for them to allow me to join the group and embrace me is awesome.

“The team has great depth. You go up and down the lineup and you can see how good every line is, how good every pair is and how good the goalies are. That’s the biggest thing I noticed when I got here.”  

Tanev also quickly took note of the team’s talented young corps, including Johnston.

“You look at how good Wyatt is, and how good Logan [Stankoven] is guys that are 21 and how important they have been to the team’s success. Thomas Harley, at 22, is another great young player.

“I never realized how young those guys were when I was playing against them.”

While Johnston has provided an offensive boost for the Stars in the playoffs, Tanev has fueled Dallas through his stout defensive game.

His 2023-24 postseason stat line includes 56 blocked shots, 23 hits and an average time on ice of 23:41. It doesn’t, however, note that Tanev had a tooth pulled in Game 5 against Colorado and that he came back to finish the game with 19:59 minutes of ice time.

Having played on other talented teams in a career that began in 2010-11 and includes nearly 800 regular-season games, Tanev believes in this Stars team. ‚Äč

“You have young guys and then guys like Ryan Suter, Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn, who have all played over 1,100 games, and have been in multiple playoff series and gone deep many times.

“You have a very good balance on this team. Everyone is pulling for one another.”

Johnston echoes the same thoughts.

“Playing for this team is amazing.

“There are a lot of things that make it so special. I think the biggest thing is the quality of everyone within the organization. Whether it’s players, coaching staff, media, everyone treats you so well and there are just so many amazing people, which makes me really thankful to be in a situation like this.

“I think that’s a huge part of our success as a team so far everyone wants to succeed for each other.”

When they aren’t helping Dallas chase Stanley Cup glory, Johnston and Tanev lead similarly quiet, albeit different, lives outside of the arena.

“I like to relax, just hang out and watch TV and Netflix,” said Johnston. “I also talk to friends and family.”

“It’s really hectic throughout the playoffs, so when I get a day off, I just try and relax and recover.”

Tanev, a huge sports fan, has found plenty to watch during this year’s playoffs.

He also has a 16-month-old son to spend quality time with.

“It’s a bit easier now [to take his mind off the game] because I have my son now. He keeps me busy.

“At nighttime, I am watching the playoff games, to see who you are playing and if you can pick up on any little things you see during the game.

“I love watching basketball, so I’ve been watching those playoffs too. I’ll also watch golf. There is always something on that you can watch to take your mind off hockey if you need to.”