It's summer and we're bored.
The Dallas Stars are stuck in limbo, waiting for the start of the season and for the ownership situation to be resolved. Fans are anxious to see if the Stars will be able to sign their RFAs, specifically James Neal and if they'll be able to get him a contract before training camp starts. Even though the Stars are handcuffed from truly moving forward, the worst scenario would be to see the team start to actually move backwards and not getting Neal locked down would certainly be a good way to start the downward spiral.
The good news is that I'm fairly certain Neal is going to get signed, and all this hand-wringing with be for nothing.
In the meantime, I thought we'd just go ahead and move forward with the assumption that a) Neal and Grossman will sign and b) that the Stars won't be adding any new players to the roster before training camp. While it's almost completely useless at this point, especially considering what happened last year with Jamie Benn in training camp, here's a premature look at what I think the depth chart and the line combos will look like come the start of the season.
It's an exercise in futility, but it's still fun to do. Follow me down the rabbit hole.....
I don't see Jere Lehtinen playing next season. That's just a hunch. After signing Neal, then the Stars will have 14 forwards on the NHL roster and should be all set moving forward. I'm also not expecting a Mike Ribeiro trade anytime soon.
As for prospects that are available for call ups, the Stars have a couple of really promising young forwards. I know that everyone is down on the depth of the system, but that doesn't mean the well is completely dry. I'm excited to see what Colton Sceviour could do if given a bit more time to develop, especially after the chemistry he showed with Benn in the AHL playoffs.
So, here's the depth chart for the Stars. (Oh yeah, they're listed in order of who I think is most important to this team. Just for giggles).
Perttu Lindgren (might play in Finland, which means he slides lower on the chart)
The defensemen are tough to figure out. I know we all want Philip Larsen to come in and rock it out on the blue line, but there's going to be an interesting numbers crunch. The Stars have eight defensemen listed right now for the NHL roster, and either they roll with just 13 forwards or they're going to be end up having to pay someone to play in the AHL -- if Larsen makes the team.
As it stands, only Larsen would be able to move freely between the NHL and AHL. I am almost 100% certain that Jeff Woywitka would have to pass through waivers (although I could be wrong) since he's on a one-way contract and you'd have to think he'd be the only candidate that Larsen could conceivably replace. Oh, decisions to make.
Obviously, whether Larsen does bump Woywitka (or someone else) off the NHL roster to start the season is wholly dependent on his performance in the preseason. I just have to guess at this point.
There's also the interesting addition of Severin Blindenbacher, who by most accounts has the potential to be an everyday player in the NHL. Where does he fit in?
Here's the depth chart, once again listed in order of importance.
This one isn't as easy either, and is based on how the backups perform in the preseason. Here we go:
Once again, this is all just a guess. But it's still fun.
|James Neal||Brad Richards||Loui Eriksson|
|Brendon Morrow||Mike Ribeiro||Jamie Benn|
|Steve Ott||Tom Wandell||Adam Burish|
|Brian Sutherby||Toby Petersen||Krys Barch|
|Fabian Brunnstrom||Brandon Segal|
|Nicklas Grossman||Stephane Robidas|
|Mark Fistric||Trevor Daley|
|Karlis Skrastins||Philip Larsen|
Ok...have at me.