Ever since the Dallas Stars scratched Alex Goligoski in an attempt to get the defenseman going, there's been some remarkable personnel stability on the blue line.
While some of the partnerships have been shaken up, most notably splitting up Goligoski and Sergei Gonchar in a move that seems to have helped both players, the same six defensemen have played in every game except one this season, leaving rookie Kevin Connauton to bide his time in the press box.
In a move that looks like it's designed to get Connauton some playing time, the Stars announced this afternoon that they have sent the youngster to the Texas Stars on a conditioning assignment while recalling veteran Aaron Rome to fill his roster spot.
Rome has not played a game for Dallas this season after missing training camp while recovering from a pair of off-season hip surgeries. He was originally sent to the Texas Stars on a conditioning assignment last month, then put through waivers and sent down in the traditional manner soon after.
In total, Rome has played eight games with Texas with one assist, eight penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating. He seems to have settled in the past few games after a rough return during the conditioning assignment. Rome played 27 games in Dallas last season with five assists and a minus-two rating to go along with 18 penalty minutes. He is in the second year of a three-year contract that has a $1.5 million cap hit each season.
Connauton, 23, has played one game for the Stars this season in which he finished plus-2 with two penalty minutes. But he's been unable to break into the regular defensive rotation.
He is in the first year of a three-year contract extension that is two-way this season but one-way the next two. However, since Connauton is a fourth-year professional who signed his first contract at age 20, he cannot be sent to Texas permanently unless he goes through waivers.
A conditioning assignment cannot last more than 14 consecutive days, and the full breakdown of the requirements can be found at our friends On the Forecheck.
When the conditioning assignment is up, the Stars could bring back Connauton without having to make a corresponding move. Because the team is only carrying 13 forwards, the Stars have an extra roster spot to play with that would allow them to keep eight defensemen.
Lindy Ruff spoke with the media today, before this news broke, about the the mood of the team after the very successful road trip.
Here's the release about the Connauton-Rome swap from the Stars website:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the team has recalled defenseman Aaron Rome from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). In addition, Dallas has loaned defenseman Kevin Connauton to Texas on a conditioning assignment.
Rome, 30, has appeared in eight games for Texas this season, recording one assist and a +1 plus/minus rating. He has posted 27 points (6-21=27) in 201 career NHL games with Anaheim, Columbus, Vancouver and Dallas.
The six-foot-one, 220-pound native of Nesbitt, Manitoba was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 1, 2012.
Connauton, 23, made his NHL debut on Oct. 24 vs. Calgary. Marking his only game action of the season, he recorded a +2 plus/minus rating and two penalty minutes in that contest.
The six-foot-two, 200-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta was acquired by Dallas, along with a second round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, from Vancouver in exchange for Derek Roy on April 2, 2013.