Even with training camp behind them and the start of the season just two days away, the Dallas Stars are still in a bit of flux with their forward lines.
Some of that is a product of injury, as Rich Peverley, who will miss a few games while recovering from a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, would have been a sure every-night player. Heck, even in the injured Scott Glennie was making a bit of a push for fourth-line minutes.
But as it stands, the only sure thing for the first few games will be the first line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole. Benn and Seguin have been practically attached at the hip since Seguin's arrival in Dallas, and Cole has provided a very nice complimentary sniper on the other wing. That trio can be written in ink on your opening-night lineup.
The other three lines are more up for debate. Here were the lines as of Monday's practice, via the great Mark Stepneski:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Erik Cole
There's quite a few interesting decisions in that lineup, not the least of which is the decision to start with Horcoff at third-line left wing with Fiddler at center. Some of this obviously has to do with the (hopefully brief) absence of Peverley, who will likely slot somewhere onto the second or third line.
But whose spot does Peverley take? Eakin has been bounced around as an option to move down to the third line, and he has shown flashes of chemistry with Nichushkin in the preseason, but he's also a player who might make a nice speed addition to Whitney and Chiasson. And Horcoff had been primarily a center with the Edmonton Oilers before being traded to the Stars this offseason but is playing wing in this lineup. He could slide over to third-line center if the Stars want to start Peverley with limited minutes on the wing.
Heck, Peverley could be either a center or a wing as well. The only real likelihood when he returns is that Fiddler is the player bumped down to the fourth line.
That fourth line also has some intriguing possibilities. Even with Peverley projected to come off injured reserve sooner rather than later, the Stars don't have to demote anybody immediately. The fact that Aaron Rome and Glennie will be on IR for a number of weeks leaves the Stars an additional roster spot to play with. Of course, they could demote someone (the likely suspect being Mueller) right away as well.
For the moment, Mueller is one of several candidates to center the fourth line. Both Garbutt and Roussel have played center for the Stars as well. MacDermid is likely on the roster more as a specialty player for games where things may get more physical, but he did make the best of his limited minutes last season by registering his first NHL goals.
So, loyal readers of DBD, how do you think the Stars should arrange their lines at the start of the season, and how should they re-arrange them once Peverley returns to the lineup?