The limited offensive upside and energetic, defensive prowess of the average NHL fourth line player is not a very sexy topic.
So Colton Sceviour got himself noticed by the Dallas Stars fanbase in a different way last night by scoring two big second period goals, assisting on a third and adding an empty netter to complete the hat trick.
Is it enough to earn a spot on the opening night roster?
Heading into camp it appeared as though the locks for roster spots were Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, Cody Eakin, Vern Fiddler, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Garbutt, Rich Peverley and Antoine Roussel. 10 players.
With the desire to carry eight defensemen known, now perhaps necessitated by injuries, that left three additional spots to award among Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Chiasson, Scott Glennie, Chris Mueller and Colton Sceviour, with Brett Ritchie and Luke Gazdic and as dark horse candidates.
Rich Peverley's injury (medical issue) opens another.
Any speculation that Alex Chiasson may not have the favor of the coaching staff was put to bed early as the rookie played with top line players and in power play situations. He'll be there October 3rd, and may even be with Ray Whitney and (Eakin? Horcoff?) on that second line.
If you listened to the broadcast last night (and fought through Avalanche broadcasters calling what was evidently the biggest game of their lives) you know Valeri Nichushkin might be struggling with doing too much and turning the puck over quite a bit, but nevertheless it appears as though his place on the roster is fairly secure despite not scoring since the first preseason game.
Scott Glennie continued a rather unfortunate tradition of getting hurt while at a camp in Dallas last week and will miss significant time with a knee injury, unceremoniously taking him out of the running after a strong showing early on put him in the lead for such a spot.
Chris Mueller has passed the eye ball test for me, and Luke Gazdic was great in the scrimmages in Ft. Worth, but neither has stood out as much as Sceviour has in the opinion of many.
Which brings us back around to Mr. Sceviour, for whom this must feel "like deja vu all over again." In late September of 2011 he was all the rage after preseason games that saw him contributing on the scoresheet, but the number of forwards in camp just didn't allow him to stay.
He responded with a great season with Texas, playing on the top line there against the best the AHL has to offer (which is significant) and in all situations. Training camp in September 2012 appeared to be another huge opportunity for a guy with some serious momentum. Except it didn't happen. You remember why.
So he trudged on with another 52 points in 62 AHL contests with Texas and played one NHL game, recording an assist and a -1 rating on January 26th against the Blues in Dallas.
With four goals and an assist in four preseason games played he ostensibly finds himself two years later once again on the cusp of cracking the opening night roster and an opportunity to then fight for the right to keep it, but the offense, while impressive, has little to do with why he could get his chance.
He could get his chance because of his now ample experience. He could get his chance because of his skating, his veteran savvy, and his responsibility in his own end. The likelihood of getting another hat trick out of him in a Dallas uniform is not great, but solid play for seven or eight minutes a night at the NHL level seems like a good bet.
Two preseason games remain, including a Thursday rematch with those same Colorado Avalanche that is said to be something of a dress rehearsal of sorts, and Sceviour's presence would be a positive indicator. We'll wait and see.
According to CapGeek neither Sceviour or MacDermid are exempt and must be subjected to waivers before either could be assigned to Texas, meaning Nill could face the possibility of losing one when Rich Peverley returns. We'll double check that.
The Stars take on the Avs at the AAC tomorrow night at 7:30pm CDT. I am guessing good seats remain.