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Stargazing: Fabian Brunnstrom Has a Long Way to Go

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and Texas Stars news, as well as a look at what's happening around the Pacific division and the rest of the NHL.

Big announcement coming later today on Defending Big D. In the meantime, Fabian Brunnstrom is struggling and should get sent to the AHL (but will he?), Razor chimes in on the preseason, and the players say that it isn't Marc Crawford's system to blame for the inconsistent play.

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The Dallas Stars are in Cedar Park, Texas this week for what they hope to be are some intense practices focused on corrected the flurry of mistakes made on Saturday night against St. Louis. On Wednesday, the Dallas Stars will take on the Texas Stars in the Bud Light Battle of the Stars at the brand new Cedar Park Center. You can go here for tickets.

Last week, Defending Big D raised the question of whether Fabian Brunnstrom was in trouble of losing his roster spot to Jamie Benn:

Yet as each game and practice progresses, it becomes more and more obvious how much more valuable Jamie Benn is becoming to the Dallas Stars than Brunnstrom. Benn is versatile on the left and right wing, has tremendous leadership capabilities and is just as good in the defensive zone as he is with the puck. He's a smart hockey player who continues to improve daily and shows the drive that is necessary to learn from his mistakes and move on. Brunnstrom on the other hand has lost confidence, disappears at times for long stretches on the ice and showed last year he is a tremendous defensive liability.

Brunnstrom is in the second year of a two-way entry level contract, with the potential to rack up $1.35 million in performance bonuses on top of a $825,000 salary. Technically, the Stars can send him down to the AHL if they deem necessary and if his level of play continues it will come to that point. If the Stars decide that Benn is more valuable than Brunnstrom the best spot for him to play would be in Austin, where he would get top minutes and have the chance to get his scoring touch and confidence back.

After Jamie Benn started on the third line while Brunnstrom struggled on the fourth Saturday night, it's becoming more and more clear that Brunnstrom is having a harder time than most getting his groove back from a few months off.

Mike Heika covers the question of whether Brunnstrom should get time in the AHL, and what the Stars need to do to get him there and back.

So, if the Stars are healthy, there is a very good chance Brunnstrom could be a healthy scratch when the season starts. Is that the best thing for his development? He had a deal with Les Jackson when he signed with the Stars as a free agent last season that he didn't want to go the minors. So, is that that same situation with new GM Joe Nieuwendyk? (I'll ask around today in Cedar Park).

Near as I can tell, Brunnstrom will become a player who will require waivers to go to the minors when he plays 60 total NHL games (I'll triple check this today because rules change with age and tenure). Once he passes 60 games, there is no chance the Stars send him down because they don't want to lose him to another team (see B.J. Crombeen and last year). Brunnstrom played 55 games last season, so the Stars have to decide if they believe a stint in the minors to start the year would help Brunnstrom (and also whether they can send him there).

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Daryl 'Razor' Reaugh always has a good perspective on the Stars and hockey, and does a good job of surmising the consternation that fans have after that debacle on Saturday night.

But before we sharpen the knives to a cut-through-a-can sharpness lets breath in and out a couple times.

It’s a new system.

It’s a new staff.

It’s one game – a preseason game.

And there are a few new players.

But still…that had an odor to it, didn’t it?

Let's trust that four days in the state capital will do wonders for their cohesion and understanding, and that a week from now the group that hits the ice at AAC to start the campaign will have a better, more automatic handle on the expected style of play.

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Despite a sore hip that's limited him to just a few preseason games, Mike Modano says he feels good both physically and mentally headed into the season.

"You really want to play as long as the body will let you," he said. "That's where I am right now. I feel good, I'm enjoying the game, and I want to keep playing."

"I used to think I'd never be playing at this age, so you change your perspective on these things," he said. "I could definitely see myself playing again next year if I feel good, but that's something that will have to wait until summer."

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After the 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, it seemed that there might have been some frustration by the Stars players over Marc Crawford's new system and the results so far. Yet the players say the issues aren't with the system but more with their lack of execution so far.

"It's not that complicated," Robidas said. "It's do your own job, make sure you do it right and trust that your teammate will do his own job. That's the bottom line. You've got to know the system. But by now, we should know the system."

"You look around this room, and it's a very good team," Robidas said. "You can look at other teams, obviously, and say they are going to be good, and it is never easy in the NHL to win on any given night. But I think you look at our team, and we should be very good, too."

[...]

"We all play with great instincts. We all know the game," [Steve] Ott said. "You change the system a little bit, but it's still Hockey 101, and that's why we're here in this league."

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Kukla's Korner has their preseason predictions up, with the Dallas Stars finishing ninth in the West while San Jose gets the top spot in the conference.

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Andrew's Dallas Stars Page has a rundown of the preseason stats.

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Andrew Hutchinson was officially assigned to the Texas Stars after clearing waivers on Saturday. From the Stars press release:

FRISCO, Tex. -- The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has assigned defenseman Andrew Hutchinson to the Texas Stars, Dallas' primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Hutchinson appeared in three 2009 pre-season games for Dallas, going scoreless with two penalty minutes.

Texas won it's first preseason game 2-1 over San Antonio on Thursday night:

The Texas Stars defeated the San Antonio Rampage 2-1 in a preseason game on Thursday night at the Ice Center at Northwoods. Stars’ goalie Richard Bachman made 30 saves for the victory, shutting out the Rampage for the first 52:13 of regulation. Forwards Travis Morin and Greg Rallo each scored in the Texas win. The Stars’ penalty kill was flawless, stopping all seven San Antonio power plays. The Texas Stars will make their Cedar Park Center debut on Sunday at 3:00 pm in a rematch with San Antonio.

Yesterday the Stars lost to the Rampage 4-3, with Ivan Vishnevskiy having a strong game for Texas:

The Texas Stars were defeated by the San Antonio Rampage 4-3 in a preseason game on Sunday night at the Cedar Park Center. Rampage forward Chad Kolarik led San Antonio with a goal and an assist. Texas received goals from forwards Perttu Lindgren, Travis Morin and Tyler Shelast in the loss. San Antonio goalie Al Montoya picked up the win with 33 saves. Stars' goalie Brent Krahn suffered the defeat with 22 saves.

Texas will host Houston on Monday at 7:00 pm at the Cedar Park Center.

Around_the_pacific_medium

  • Dan Hinote has been cut from the San Jose Sharks Roster. [Fear The Fin]
  • With local news coverage almost non-existent, the LA Kings have hired their own beat writer to cover the team. Mark Cuban approves.
  • The Coyotes won their first game under Dave Tippett with good goaltending, solid defense and timely scoring. Hmmmm. [TSN]
  • The Ducks won their final preseason game 5-4 over the Kings [Ducks.com]

Around_the_nhl_medium

  • Toronto's top draft pick Nazem Kadri has been sent back to the juniors. [TSN]
  • The Candians are headed to Ontario for a 'bonding' exercise. [TSN]
  • Sidney Crosby didn't play last night against the Red Wings. Oh darn. [NHL.com]
  • Jonas Gustavsson is putting on a show up in Toronto. [Pension Plan Puppets]