Jake Oettinger, Wyatt Johnston, and the Dallas Stars are one step away from the Stanley Cup Final. Dallas reached the Western Conference Finals in 2023. But they could not keep up with the Vegas Golden Knights. This year, Dallas has to contend with Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

The Stars have experience dealing with extremely talented offenses in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In round one, they met up with the Golden Knights. Vegas took the first two games of the series. But Dallas rebounded, taking the next three. The series ended up going to seven where the Stars won the winner-take-all contest on home ice.

In round two, Dallas matched up with Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. Again, the Stars stumbled early in the series. However, they won three in a row once again. The Avalanche were able to force a Game 6, but could not make Dallas play two straight Game 7s. Dallas picked up a huge win on the road to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

There are a few players who have helped the Stars reach this point. But the team has one true X-Factor they need to show up against the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals. And this player has come up big in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past.

Wyatt Johnston is Stars' true X-Factor vs. Oilers

Dallas Stars center Wyatt Johnston (53) before the game against the Colorado Avalanche in game six of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Wyatt Johnston has turned heads during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 21-year-old forward has scored his fair share of clutch goals in the postseason. In fact, he has two goals in two career Game 7s already. He scored against the Seattle Kraken last year and against the Golden Knights in 2024.

The Stars have seen some of their biggest stars play well this postseason. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen leads the team with 13 points through 13 games. Forward Jason Robertson is also nearly a point-per-game player. Goaltender Jake Oettinger has played to a .918 save percentage so far. These performances have certainly helped Dallas make the Western Conference Finals.

But Johnston has reached another level. The Leaside, Ontario native scored four goals and six points in 19 games last postseason. This year, he leads the Stars with seven goals, and has 11 points. What makes Johnston all the more effective is his defensive play, though. He is extremely responsible in his own end. In fact, he drew a big comparison to Patrice Bergeron because of his performances.

The Stars will need Johnston to remain playing at a high level during this series. The Oilers are a fantastic offensive team that can steal games if their goaltending is on its game. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evan Bouchard lead one of the most lethal offenses in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.

All three of those players have 20 or more points already. Beyond that, the Oilers also have the playoff's leading goal scorer on their roster. Forward Zach Hyman has scored 11 goals through the first two rounds. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has also had a fine postseason, scoring 16 points.

Overall, the Stars have to find a way to contain this offensive unit. Jake Oettinger will definitely play a big role in doing this. But Wyatt Johnston is another player who can help in that area. If he defends well, Edmonton's top stars will struggle. If he falters, though, the Oilers may be able to find further holes in Dallas's defense. Furthermore, they will need the 21-year-old to generate offense to make up for when McDavid, Draisaitl, and the rest break through in this series.

Johnston has shown that he lives for the big moment. This series against the Oilers may be the biggest moment he's encountered so far. And it'll certainly be interesting to see how the Stars forward responds in the 2024 Western Conference Finals.