When I read On the Radar: Roller Coaster Ride (http://stars.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=696647) by Josh Bogorad on the Dallas Stars website (http://www.dallstars.com), I began to wonder what coach Lindy Ruff will do when Vern Fiddler returns. Typically, teams carry 14 forwards and 7 defensemen. With the temporary loss of experienced defensemen, 13 could be reduced to 12 to carry another defenseman. However, the team has demonstrated a strong commitment to using four lines and Ruff seems to use a healthy scratch to provide player performance feedback. Therefore, it comes down to whether Sceviour or Jeffrey will be the odd man out given Sceviour has made a strong initial impression as Bogorad points out. Let’s compare them.
Both Sceviour and Jeffrey were drafted in the 2007 draft, Sceviour 4th round (112th overall) and Jeffrey 6th round (171st overall). Sceviour is 14 months younger and started his pro career one year later. The roster states Jeffrey weighs 205 and is 6’1” and Sceviour weighs 200 and is 6’0”. Both players have 9 years of pro experience (40 or more games per pro season), however, Jeffrey has played 107 games at the NHL level and Sceviour has only 5. The Stars acquired Jeffrey on November 16th off waivers. At the AHL level, Jeffrey averaged 51 points and Sceviour averaged 44. Except for Jeffrey’s additional NHL experience, these profiles look remarkably similar.
There is one notable difference between the two players in question, Jeffrey is a left shot and Sceviour is a right shot. Right shooters are highly desirable because there are fewer of them in the NHL. NHL coaches like to have a team with a solid mix because it maximizes their flexibility in configuring lines especially power play units. In past years, the Dallas Stars has had a deficiency of strong right-handed shooters. They have changed that with the addition of Seguin, Peverley, Whitney and Chiasson but the ratio is still 8 to 4. This one attribute alone will lead to a strong Dallas Stars commitment to Sceviour if he continues to show strong performance in the AHL and NHL. However, I believe he will not be content to remain in the AHL.
In watching Jeffrey and Sceviour, they both have shown strong 2-way play and a good energy level. However, Sceviour’s play in 5 games (3 points, +0) has been much more noticeable than Jeffrey’s play in 7 games (1 point, -1). However, this is a small sample of games. Expect Ruff to use Fiddler’s absence to assess these two players. If Sceviour continues to play strong, Jeffrey may not see much action.
Over the next few weeks, we will see another example of how the team of Nill and Ruff will manage player development to build a Stanley Cup contender.