Every year before the season starts, we take a look at the players expected to make the roster and come up with a ranking of who will impact the season the most (#1) to who will have the least impact (#25). With a short time to gear up for the season due to that pesky lockout business, we'll be consolidating these down into three parts. Today we'll go through impact players 25-16, counting our way down to who will have the most impact on the team this season.
#25. Jamie Oleksiak
2011-2012: Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL) 6g, 15a, 21p, 23 PIMs, +27
Why he's here: With the recent trade of Mark Fistric to the Edmonton Oilers, does Oleksiak become the first go-to for call-up when injuries strike? He should get big minutes on the top pairing in Austin, playing in all situations, with Jordie Benn and Brenden Dillon set to make the roster due to the recent trade opening up another spot.
#24. Antoine Roussel
2011-2012: Chicago Wolves (AHL) 4g, 5a, 9p, 177 PIMs, -13
Why he's here: Roussel has impressed down in Austin, having accumulated seven goals and eight assists to nearly double his point production from last season. He has a gritty agitator style of play, and could be carried as an extra forward if the Stars feel they need a little more "sandpaper" on the roster.
#23. Reilly Smith
2011-2012: Miami University (NCAA) 30g, 18a, 48p, 22 PIMs
Why he's here: Smith was a surprise invitee to Dallas Stars camp. He could make enough of a case to be on the big club's roster with the scoring chemistry he has developed with Cody Eakin, but it's more likely he will continue to get big first line minutes down in Austin to start the season. He would be one of the first candidates for call up when injuries strike to add scoring depth.
#22. Ryan Garbutt
2011-2012: Texas Stars (AHL) 16g, 17a, 33p, 96 PIMs, -2; Dallas Stars (NHL) 2g, 1a, 3p, 22 PIMs, -1
Why he's here: Garbutt joined the Dallas Stars in February last season and immediately added grit to the bottom 6 forwards on the team. He has a reputation for working hard both on and off the ice, and that hard work mentality earned him a one way deal this season. He will most likely see minutes on the fourth line as he did last year.
#21. Aaron Rome
2011-2012: Vancouver Canucks (NHL) 4g, 6a, 10p, 46 PIMs, -4
Why he's here: Rome is a bit of an unknown quantity heading into the season. He is most widely recognized for his controversial hit on Nathan Horton in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. He was suspended for that hit and missed the rest of the postseason, then struggled through various injuries last season in Vancouver. He didn't really find a stride in 2011-2012, and may be re-energized with a change of scenery. He's a gritty, physical presence that the Stars needed to replace with Sheldon Souray's departure to Anaheim in the summer. With Fistric traded to Edmonton, there is conceivably two spots any given night to compete for on the ice, and he'll have to prove he deserves it over Jordie Benn and Brenden Dillon.
#20. Cristopher Nilstorp
2011-2012: Farjestads BK Karlstad (SEL) 2.04 GAA, 0.923 SV%
Why he's here: Goaltending depth is going to play a big part to keeping the team alive in the sprint to the playoffs this season. It only takes one extended injury for depth to be tested. Nilstorp came into the Stars system as a free agent signing, and has taken over the #1 goaltending spot in Austin. There should be good competition between he and Bachman to see who will backup Kari Lehtonen in Dallas this season.
#19. Eric Nystrom
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL) 16g, 5a, 21p, 24 PIMs, -10
Why he's here: Nystrom finished the season with one of the worst plus/minus ratings on the team (along with linemates Radek Dvorak and Vernon Fiddler.) His role last season was as part of a checking line but that isn't quite suited to his skill set. It's uncertain whether he will be able to score at the same rate as he did last season, but should offer some depth in scoring when used in a role that suits him.
#18. Brenden Dillon
2011-2012: Texas Stars (AHL) 6g, 23a, 29p, 97 PIMs, -6
Why he's here: Dillon appears to be set to join the Dallas Stars roster, the question is at which spot? Benn seems to be the hotter of the two in terms of scoring of late, but Dillon has looked NHL ready since the end of last season. It was assumed he was a lock to make the roster out of camp going into this season, now he'll have the chance to show it -- and fill the role of the hard-checking defenseman the Stars are now seemingly without.
#17. Jordie Benn
2011-2012: Texas Stars (AHL) 9g, 23a, 32p, 33 PIMs, -9
Why he's here: Benn seems to have really found his stride this season in Austin. He's been big on the powerplay, with five of his seven goals this season coming on the man advantage (most amongst defensemen on the team and second most on the team overall in powerplay goals.)
#16. Tom Wandell
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL) 6g, 9a, 15p, 16 PIMs, -5
Why he's here: Wandell has frustrated many a Stars fan over the past two seasons -- showing glimpses of scoring ability and puck possession skill inconsistently. With injuries last season, Wandell was given the chance to play up in the lines and still didn't produce at the level most seemed to expect him to be able to. The Stars don't have a lot of depth in skilled centers, so as Jamie Benn remains unsigned, Wandell will be given the chance once again to play in the top 6. It's up to him to make the most out of the chances he will get to play up this season as circumstance and injury dictate.
Would you change any of these rankings? Someone lower than they should be or higher than they should be? Tell us in the comments. Tomorrow, we'll count down #15 to #6 on our impact player rankings. Who do you think you'll see on that list?