The Dallas Stars, much like every NHL team, are no strangers to injuries. They say in life there are only two things that are certain, death and taxes. In the NHL you can add one thing that is bound to occur to each team at various times of the season, the injury bug will bite. With NHL players playing games multiple nights a week, along with squeezing practices and off ice training in between games, injuries are just inevitably going to happen.
For certain teams, when the bug bites the results can be devastating. Some teams simply don’t have the depth to overcome an injury to more than one or two of their players at a time. While you can never truly “replace” a top tier player like a Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin, there is one way that teams can fight off the dreaded injury bug, and that is through quality roster depth, and it is in this area that the Dallas Stars are prepared for the upcoming campaign.
Starting with the offense, the Stars are very much in possession of a deep roster. Their top six has the potential to be as good as any in the league. Seguin and Benn anchor a top line that produced two top 10 scorers last season. Ales Hemsky is a name that seems to be most likely to fit on that line, adding a pure passer to two of the best shooters in the league.
On the majority of other teams in the league Jason Spezza, Valeri Nichushkin and Erik Cole would be a top line. Playing in Dallas behind the Seguin trio, the Stars have a very dangerous second line to deploy amd provide Lindy Ruff with something coaches love – depth. The line of Cody Eakin centering Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt is ideally suited for a third line role, but proved they can be a decent second line if called upon. The fourth line will be comprised of some combination of Vern Fiddler, Rich Peverley (if healthy), Shawn Horcoff, Colton Sceviour or Patrick Eaves. There is also speculation of Travis Morin challenging for a roster spot this season.
The defense is less of a log jam in terms of the top end, but the bottom gets a little muddy. Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley are likely locked in as the top pair, and while they had a rocky start, they finished the year really strong. Assuming he signs, Brenden Dillon should be on the second pairing, either with Jordie Benn or Sergei Gonchar. Patrick Nemeth will most likely be on the roster this season and rounds out a young, but promising defense corps. When the injuries or a streak of poor play come along, Dallas has Kevin Connauton, Jamie Oleksiak, Cameron Gaunce and Jyrki Jokipakka waiting in the wings. While those four might not be ready for full time NHL work, they each appear on the verge of being able to hold their own for short periods of time.
Between the pipes the show clearly still belongs to Kari Lehtonen. He has been a workhorse for the last few seasons and Dallas is hoping that newcomers Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas are able to help lighten Kari’s workload. While the smart money seems to be on Lindback, Rynnas has something to prove, and both want the opportunity to be starters again at some point in their NHL careers. That desire, coupled with the fact that the backup position will be an ongoing competition should lead to both backups brining their best on an everyday basis. Don’t forget, Jack Campbell isn’t quite ready to be an NHL backup, but could be close.
There is only one way to combat the inevitable injury bug, and that is through depth of roster. The Stars have possibly 15 forwards for 12 spots, essentially a full line on the bench each game. The defense isn’t quite as deep, but there is enough competence amongst the players who would be called up to be an adequate stop gap. On top of all that, having two back up goalies fighting for each spot on a daily basis is always a good thing. Injuries are going to occur and while it will be hard to replace any of the Stars top tier players, due to the depth of the roster, Dallas should be able to stay afloat.
As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading and GO STARS!
Tags: Dallas Stars