The Dallas Stars roster underwent one of the biggest shakeups this offseason in recent memory. Amid the excitement of big name prospects coming up, new draft picks, and players acquired in that little trade with Boston it's easy to overlook some of the names on the team that are not as well known to the everyday fan. Where does Lane MacDermid fit into these assortment of puzzle pieces that Lindy Ruff gets to make into a picture? The beginning is a good place to start to find that answer.
While in the Boston system, MacDermid played 212 games in the AHL over the last three seasons, totaling only 13 goals and 27 assists while posting a remarkable 434 penalty minutes. Every season saw him with double digit fight totals -- but he did more than just that for the Providence Bruins. MacDermid was called upon to provide "spark" to the team, often after an opposing goal. His defensive game grew when he was made part of their penalty kill unit, where he tallied two shorthanded goals last season. He grew into a leadership role with the team as well, wearing the "A" of the alternate captain for much of last year.
MacDermid's strong play in the AHL helped him to earn a roster spot with the NHL Boston Bruins at the beginning of last season. Because Boston didn't want to risk losing him to waivers to send him back down to the AHL, many games saw MacDermid as a healthy scratch at the NHL level. "I try not to take things too personally." MacDermid said. "You know, it's a business. They're just trying to do the best for the club. So I totally understand."
With a plethora of depth in the Boston system and MacDermid's inability to crack a spot consistently, combined with his waiver status, he was made expendable at the trade deadline. MacDermid was packaged along with Bruins prospect Cody Payne and a conditional draft pick and sent to Dallas in return for Jaromir Jagr.
There is some positive to the change in scenery for the young winger. The current Dallas roster (and many a variation depending on which prospect you project into the lineup) has one thing missing that many teams still have these days -- an "enforcer."
Here's the thing about that enforcer role -- under the old management of Joe Nieuwendyk it became quite clear that having a guy on the roster that wasn't going to do more than play in a fraction of games and not contribute in some other way was not part of the plan. It's a role player that Dallas has been without since Krys Barch departed the team in the 2011 season. Sure, there have been a few guys that are willing to drop the gloves, but the Ryan Garbutts and the Eric Nystroms on the team were also called upon to provide depth scoring and penalty killing as well.
Where does new general manager Jim Nill and new coach Lindy Ruff stand on having an enforcer on the team? The usage of MacDermid could be the first indicator in the new season.
MacDermid is more than qualified to fit into that "enforcer" role if called upon to do so. He showed already that he's not afraid to drop the gloves when he fought Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll in just his fifth game as a Star.
The seven games he played for Dallas showed that he can be more than just a fighter, too. He has a skating ability that is above the average of the prototypical enforcer types. He also plays a grind type style of play, where he's not afraid to drive the net and provide that net-front presence that can help with depth scoring. I doubt that his 50% shooting percentage that he had in the first seven games with the Stars last season would hold up over the long season, but his career numbers indicate he can provide some scoring. The gritty style of his game should fit in well on the fourth line -- assuming that he doesn't get sidelined with injuries like he did last season. Between a sore groin muscle in Boston and some "minor injury" that resulted in him puking up blood (which doesn't sound all that minor to me) being healthy is key to ice time with the competition going into training camp.
Roussel, Garbutt and MacDermid all seem to have similar playing styles. Roussel has made a name for himself as a "pest" -- is that, combined with his goal scoring abilities, going to force MacDermid into more limited minutes? Or can the two compliment each other and show more of the chemistry demonstrated when MacDermid potted this beauty of a goal: