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June 8, 2007
By DallasStars.com


Dallas Stars prospect B.J. Crombeen is well on his way toward what could be a long and successful professional career, and he took a seemingly circuitous -- but ultimately, very rewarding -- route in his development during the 2006-07 season.

After being drafted, most European prospects can't wait to get to North America to start their professional careers. Virtually all North American youngsters want to start climbing their respective club's pecking order as soon as is humanly possible. After his first season in professional hockey in 2005-06, split between the AHL Iowa Stars and ECHL Idaho Steelheads, Crombeen broke that norm to go to the Finnish Elite League for a year to further improve his skills.

"We spoke to B.J. last summer and determined the biggest areas of improvement we wanted him to focus on were his speed, skating and puck skills," said Les Jackson, Dallas' Assistant General Manager. "B.J. has all the qualities you could ask for in terms of gritty, physical, North American style of play. We thought he'd be well served going to Finland, getting a great deal of ice time and polishing his offensive skills. We've sent players to Assat Pori in the Finnish Elite League in the past and we like they way they work, so we saw it as an excellent development tool. He had a good season over there and should bring a new set of skills to training camp this fall."

In 55 games for Assat Pori in 2006-07, Crombeen placed third on the club in goals (13) and seventh in points (22), while -- not surprisingly -- ranking second in penalty minutes (152). He showed his durability by skating in all but one of the club's games, which was also good for second on the team.

Upon completion of the Finnish Elite League season, Crombeen joined the Idaho Steelheads late in their ECHL season, in time to contribute to the club's run to the Kelly Cup championship. Crombeen notched 11 points (7 goals, 4 assists) and 43 PIM in 13 regular season contests, before collecting five goals and five assists in Idaho's 22 playoff games this spring.

The native of Denver, Colo., was one of three Dallas Stars' selections in the second round of the 2003 Entry Draft (No. 54 overall), after a star-studded career with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Crombeen was a two-time OHL All-Star with Barrie, captained the club in 2004-05 and played for Team Canada's gold medal-winning club at the 2003 Under-18 World Championships.

The 6-2, 212-pound right wing comes from rich hockey bloodlines, as his father, Mike, was a first-round pick in the both the 1977 NHL (No. 5 overall by Cleveland) and WHA Drafts (No. 4 overall by Edmonton) after a stellar junior career with the Kingston Canadians. Mike Crombeen played in 475 career NHL games over eight seasons with the Cleveland Barons, St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers, recording 55 goals and 68 assists for 123 points. He also added eight points (6 goals, 2 assists) in 27 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with the Blues.

Crombeen, who will turn 22 in July, is expected to play a key role for the Iowa Stars next season. He plans to take a couple weeks off after his grueling season before beginning his summer workouts in advance of the Dallas Stars' training camp in September.

DallasStars.com recently had a chance to visit with Crombeen to discuss his year in Finland, his thought on Idaho's ECHL championship and his goals for next season.

DallasStars.com: How did the decision come about for you to play with Assat Pori in Finland this season, and what kind of experience was it for you?

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