The Dallas Stars are making moves as they prepare to hop back into action on Wednesday night. Here’s an update on all of the important Stars news from Tuesday.
It’s almost time for the Dallas Stars to return to action.
After navigating 10 days away from in-game competition, the Stars will hit the ice at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night. The Buffalo Sabres will be in town as both teams look to open up post-break play on a strong note with a win.
Wednesday will serve as an opportunity for two teams stuck in tight playoff races in their conferences to gain two valuable points and start the homestretch on the right foot. As a result, there’s plenty riding on the contest for both clubs.
And that’s where preparation is key. After the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend wrapped up on Saturday night, the Dallas Stars returned to the ice on Sunday afternoon for a first practice. The practice was aimed at getting the players back into game shape and preparing them for the final 33 games.
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But the Stars’ three days of practice leading up to their first game against Buffalo aren’t just meant for the team to reset the tempo; they’re also meant for coaches and management to get the team and lineup in the best possible shape to continue competing for a playoff spot.
GM Jim Nill took another step towards doing that when he traded for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak on Monday afternoon. In an odd move that completely negated the trade from Dec. 19, 2017, the Stars reacquired the defenseman from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for their 2019 fourth-round draft pick.
Oleksiak brings size and physicality to a Dallas Stars blue line that is currently lacking in both areas. With Marc Methot done for the year after having season-ending knee surgery and Stephen Johns‘ status still a question mark, the Stars need big bodies in their defensive arsenal. Oleksiak, as they know well from past endeavors, can provide that punch.
But, that’s not all that is going down in the Stars’ corner as they gear up for the homestretch. Tuesday morning was filled with transactions, breaking news, and plenty of other noteworthy stories.
Here’s a quick look at all that occurred.
Hintz recalled from Texas Stars
The Dallas Stars started the day off by recalling forward Roope Hintz from the AHL. Hintz has played in 25 games with Dallas this season, scoring two goals and adding three assists as well as a solid 52.1 percent face-off win percentage.
Though the 22-year-old is making his return to Dallas, he hasn’t missed any NHL action. Hintz was sent down to the AHL along with Denis Gurianov shortly after the Stars’ victory over the Jets on Jan. 19. The move was intended to give both young forwards a chance to continue playing and developing in preparation for the final push. Hintz has started in 11 consecutive games for Dallas.
With his addition to the lineup, the Stars are getting a much-needed burst of speed on offense. Hintz centered the Stars’ fourth line against Winnipeg and registered four shots on net as well as a +1 rating. His presence as a depth forward helped Dallas access a more explosive side in the offensive zone, which in turn helped them dominate the game.
Hintz was once again centering the fourth line at practice on Tuesday, with Valeri Nichushkin and Brett Ritchie beside him. We’ll see if his speed once again plays a factor in the Stars’ execution on Wednesday night.
Pitlick sent to injured reserve
Through all of the good that came from the Stars’ win over the Jets on Saturday night, there was one usual element missing from it: forward Tyler Pitlick.
Pitlick missed the game due to an upper-body injury sustained during the game against Los Angeles two nights prior. While heading into the corner with the puck, Pitlick was hit hard by Kings forward Dustin Brown and fell to the ice. After getting up, he left the ice and did not return for the remainder of the game.
At first, there was no timetable for his return. But even with the ten-day break wrapping up today, it seems as though Pitlick is still not ready to make a return. As a result, the Stars placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 17.
This means a few things. One, Pitlick’s return date is still up in the air. Considering he was placed on IR retroactive to Jan. 17, the Stars will be able to take him off IR whenever he is ready to play.
Secondly, the move opens up a roster spot. Dallas only has 22 players on their roster at the moment and can make another call-up if necessary.
Jamie Oleksiak gets a new number
After a team signs or trades for a player, one of the first questions asked is in regards to what number he will wear on his jersey. And after the Stars reacquired Oleksiak on Monday afternoon, that question came into focus.
In Oleksiak’s first stint with the Dallas Stars, he donned two different numbers. He made his NHL debut wearing no. 43 and skated 16 games in the 2013 lockout season with that number. But prior to the 2013-14 season, Oleksiak changed to no. 5. He wore it up until the Stars traded him to Pittsburgh in Dec. 2017. The trade led him to change his jersey number to 6.
But, upon making his return to Dallas, Oleksiak found all of his former numbers currently occupied. No. 43 is currently worn by Valeri Nichushkin, while no. 5 is owned by Connor Carrick and no. 6 is worn by Julius Honka.
As a result, Oleksiak decided on the number 2. It’s been a frequently-used number by Dallas defenders over the past few seasons, with Dan Hamhuis, Kris Russell, and Jyrki Jokipakka all wearing it at some point over the past four seasons. So, look for no. 2 to be skating on the third pairing alongside Taylor Fedun come Wednesday night.
That’s all for a busy Tuesday in the Dallas Stars organization. The charge to the finish line starts back up tomorrow night.