With preseason underway, the Dallas Stars have already played a few exhibition games. A handful of their top veterans have had some ice time, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to rest them as much as possible. While they shouldn’t be allowed to get “rusty,” fans should expect to see some strategy in veteran ice time ahead of the last two preseason games.
1. Injury Prevention Should be a Top Priority
The most obvious reason for resting veterans in the preseason is to help prevent injuries before the regular season gets into full swing. With injuries already being seen, as in the case of Stars’ prospect Chase Wheatcroft, it is best to try to keep the top players as healthy as possible.
Wheatcroft blocked a shot in the Stars’ game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, September 26, resulting in a fracture. As a result, his training camp is over. Roope Hintz is also dealing with an upper-body issue, according to Pete DeBoer. While it’s not reported to be concerning at this time, it’s best to keep the top-producing veterans in reserve for now.
2. Rookie Opportunities High in Preseason
Secondly, resting veterans provide the Stars’ training camp attendees with more opportunities to prove themselves and gain valuable experience. For rookies in the minors and new additions to the club, this is the perfect chance to prove they deserve a roster spot – or consideration for an eventual call-up this season.
Knowing younger potential players’ strengths and weaknesses against not just their peers, but also NHL veterans of other teams, provides a better gauge for their NHL readiness. If too many veterans are played early on, these opportunities are lost, lowering the club’s potential for observation and evaluation.
3. Line Experimentation Without Regular Season Stakes
With so many promising prospects in the system like Mavrik Bourque and Logan Stankoven, pairing these players with a mix of veterans can help show where they could fit best on the team in the future. The CBA allows a minimum of 8 veteran classified players in exhibition games. As a result, playing the minimum while rotating the top players on the team in games allows for better experimentation with prospective lines and pairings.
This can keep vets freshly warmed up while limiting their injury potential and optimizing opportunities for younger players. Seeing how the prospects work together against other NHL veterans can show fans a glimpse of what the team’s future could hold – and whether that’s a good sign or a sign that changes need to be made.
Fans have already had the opportunity to see Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Robertson this preseason, and other key players on the team. That doesn’t mean they should be on the roster for every game leading up to the regular season. With so many promising prospects, seeing a mixed-experience roster has been exciting. Being able to get pumped about the upcoming season – AND future seasons – is a big part of what makes preseason such a fun time.