One of the constant things fans of the Dallas Stars got to experience last season was seeing new faces in the lineup. Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin were obviously the most popular new Stars, but other players such as Cameron Gaunce, Travis Morin, and Colton Sceviour got in on the action. Late last season defenseman Patrik Nemeth also got the call, and proved ready to make the jump.
During the end of the regular season, and into the playoffs, Nemeth made the most of his opportunity. Brenden Dillon was injured, Lindy Ruff didn’t trust Sergei Gonchar and Aaron Rome, and Dallas needed Nemeth to fill the void. He ended up playing eight regular season games on the blue line for Dallas, registering zero points and a minus three rating, while averaging 13:46 minutes per game. Judging solely by the box score, it would seem that Nemeth might need more time in Cedar Park, but the eyeball test showed something different entirely. Nemeth’s play, while a little shaky at times proved that he is ready to make the jump to the big club full time this NHL season.
For those unfamiliar with Nemeth, listed at 6-3 and 235 pounds, he brings size to a defensive corps that is smallish by NHL standards. He seems calm on the ice and has the ability to make a solid first pass out of the zone along with being physical when called for. He will not provide much offense, but has the potential to develop into a top four shutdown defenseman, similar to the role Richard Matvichuk. That isn’t to say he can’t produce offensively, he just worries about his own end first and then takes offense when it presents itself. In fact, Nemeth scored the overtime goal that clinched the Calder Cup for the Texas Stars.
The downside is that he played mostly sheltered minutes, starting almost 48 percent of his shifts in the offensive zones. The fact that he was sheltered shouldn’t really surprise anyone, as Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski were clearly the top pair eating the tough minutes, along with the fact that Nemeth only has 13 total games in the NHL. Playing against one of the top teams in the NHL during the playoffs with your team’s life on the line, pretty much any coach will be riding his horses and sheltering his kids.
Despite the limited, sheltered minutes and unfriendly box scores, Nemeth proved he is ready to make the jump to the NHL full time in 2014. With the struggles of Gonchar added to the fact that Dillon is still unsigned (more on that soon), look for Nemeth to slide right into the Stars lineup this fall.
As always, I appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading and go Stars!