The Dallas Stars have announced that defenseman Karlis Skrastins has been placed on injured reserve, while defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy has been recalled from the Texas Stars.
When news first came that Skrastins was out indefinitely with a cut finger on his hand, it was just about inevitable that he would have to go to injured reserve at some point. The cut is on the hand that grips the top of his stick and it's going to take at least a week for it to heal to a point where he can play comfortably. What I hoped would happen is that the Stars would recall Maxime Fortunus or Garrett Stafford when this happened, in order to provide some intelligent and physical relief on defense while Skrastins was out. Neither are flashy guys, but both are solid defensemen who won't make many mistakes.
The long-term plan was supposed to be to allow Vishnevskiy time in Austin to learn the intricacies of being the number one defenseman, and he's had the chance this season to play next to veteran Brad Lukowich. The Texas Stars have one of the top defenses in the AHL, and Vishsnevskiy has been solid while growing into an offensive threat on the blue line. This doesn't feel to be the right time to boost him up to the NHL, right in the middle of the season.
If the Stars made this move, it should be for good. Vishnevskiy is not a player I'd prefer to see yo-yo'ed between the AHL and NHL, especially if the Stars are expecting him to develop into a major force for them in the near future. And yet, there is a chance I completely understand the reasoning behind this move.
Earlier today, Mike Heika posed the question of whether the Stars are just going through growing pains on defense and should be patient with their young players. There are certainly a number of issues with the Stars right now, yet these defensemen have the potential to develop into something special. Heika brings up Chicago as an example of a team that struggled early, yet now has one of the most coveted defenses in the NHL. What's frustrating is that this is now the third season we've seen a combination of Grossman, Niskanen, Daley and Fistric and yet the same shortcomings still present themselves. I am willing to be patient however, especially since the young players are now in a new system, yet how long the team is patient is the big question.
The Stars could see Vishnevskiy as a boost to the team. He's a high-energy, exciting player to watch and he showed last season that if given the chance he has the ability to open up the offense and create chances. He has a booming shot, is a great puck handler with good vision and he's improving on his play on his own end. He hasn't exactly lit it up in the AHL this season (4 goals, 6 assists, plus-1 in 27 games), yet it's his potential and energy that could help this team more than his actual production.
What remains to be seen is how long the Stars stick with Vishnevskiy and how many minutes Crawford let's him play. If he's up in the NHL, he should not be babied and needs the chance to show what he can do both on the power play and on even strength. Skrastins could return next week and the Stars send Vishnevskiy back down, yet if they are making this move this early the Stars should at least see what he can do if given significant time on ice.
UPDATE: Heika says that Skrastins could possibly come back to play Friday and that his injury is not expected to be long term. If so, that makes the recall of Vishnevskiy essentially pointless and nullifies the reasons I stated above that this move could work. So, refer to my statement that the plan for Vishnevskiy does not call for him to come up to the NHL for just a game at a time.
Full press release after the jump.Frisco, Tex. - The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has placed defenseman Karlis Skrastins on injured reserve, retroactive to Dec. 3. The Stars have also recalled defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy from the Texas Stars - Dallas' primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Skrastins, 35, suffered a laceration on his right index finger on Dec. 3 against Anaheim. He has skated in 28 games for the Stars in 2009-10, collecting five assists and eight penalty minutes. The Riga, Latvia native, ranks 10th in the NHL in blocked shots with 63. Skrastins has played in 707 career NHL games, recording 115 points (27g, 88a). The 6-1, 208-pound defenseman signed a two-year contract with Dallas on July 2, 2009.
Vishnevskiy, 21, has played in 27 games for Texas collecting four goals and six assists for 10 points this season. He appeared in three games for Dallas in 2008-09, recording two assists. The Barnaul, Russia native, spent most of last season with Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, where he played in 67 games, tallying 19 points (6g, 13a). Vishnevskiy was drafted in the first round (27th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by Dallas.
The Dallas Stars will travel to Anaheim today to play the Ducks on Tuesday night (9:00 pm CT, TV: FOX Sports Southwest, Radio: Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket).