Note: Don't forget that Defending Big D is live at training camp this weekend. Check back later this evening for our detailed breakdown and analysis of the first day of practices.
Training camp will be underway shortly and while we pretty much know what the roster will look like on opening day barring any surprises, there are still a few storylines that we'll be keeping our eye on.
One roster spot up for grabs. With the 12 forward roster spots seemingly all set and the Stars apparently all set to carry eight defensemen into the season (and I'm not completely sold on that one either) then there will be just one spot open for a true "training camp battle". To me Ray Sawada has the inside edge on the extra forward spot on the fourth line, especially since his energy and tenacity match up perfectly with Petersen, Sutherby and Barch. I was impressed with what I saw from him in the few games he played in last season and I think he brings an offensive edge to the fourth line that Crawford will want.
Continued after the jump.
Yet there are several other players who have a shot at the position as well. Tom Wandell is a skilled forward who looked very comfortable when called up to the Stars last season, yet flew under the radar a bit while playing in Sweden. Warren Peters, recently signed to an AHL contract, is a player that the front office and coaches really like and whom some have hinted could get a shot at making the NHL team out of training camp.
According to Mark Stepneski, there could be one other scenario in play: The Stars keep eight defensemen and roll with just 22 players on opening day. With the Stars AHL affiliate just a few hours away in Austin, this would allow the younger players to get experience and minutes instead of just being a healthy scratch most nights. It's an interesting concept and one that maximizes the team's potential on both fronts.
Can Marty Turco rebound from a dismal season? Marty Turco is constantly referred to as one of the more athletic and in-shape goaltenders in the NHL, yet is notorious for having a slow start to training and the preseason. Coming off his worst season in the NHL, and heading into the final year of his contract with no offers for an extension on the table, it's hopeful that Turco feels the pressure and comes out motivated to prove to this coaching staff he is still a top goalie in the NHL. With the Stars' defense a big question mark heading into this season and Crawford instilling his offensive scheme, Turco will be the biggest factor this season in whether the Stars are successful. With Alex Auld on board as a very capable backup, Turco will be pushed to perform from the very start of training camp.
How does Brenden Morrow look on the ice? After nearly 10 months away from the ice for the Dallas Stars, Morrow will finally be back among his teammates. He's stated that his knee feels fine and is strong, but that the rest of his body is still playing catchup to playing hockey again. This is something that Morrow has not had to deal with before in his career (his wrist injury was close, but the same type of recovery) and will require some close attention to see how long it takes before he's back to his old self. There's no doubt that the Stars will only go as far as Morrow can lead them. The good news is that he has a General Manager who has gone through two serious knee injuries, and provides a mentor for Morrow as he attempts to get back to playing shape.