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How Will Lindy Ruff Deploy Dallas Stars' Right Wings?

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Jamie Benn moving back to wing solidifies the left side along with Ray Whitney. What about on the right?


Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. It is on this combination that Dallas Stars fans have rested their hopes for the upcoming 2013-2014 season.

Who is going to play with them?

That is a matter of some debate and curiosity.

The stock answer for much of the fanbase will automatically be "Valeri Nichushkin!". Eyeballs will follow him ceaselessly in just two weeks on the ice in Fort Worth. He's big. He's fast. He's young. More importantly, he's new, and sports fans are endlessly infatuated with the hope that new, unknown quantities will turn out to be something great.

Maybe he will. Maybe it will take some time. Maybe he won't. What is certain as camp nears is that he'll be a part of one of the more interesting set of dominoes to fall this September - And that is how Lindy Ruff configures his pieces at right wing.

Loui Eriksson, Michael Ryder, Jaromir Jagr, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Tomas Vincour all played on the right side at some point last year. The Stars made a conscious decision to move on from each and every one of them in one form or another.

The new depth chart down the right side to open camp, on paper, contains Alex Chiasson, Valeri Nichushkin, Erik Cole, and maybe Antoine Roussel. That's 46 career NHL games played between three of them, and 749 for the other.

Casual estimates indicate that Jaromir Jagr might have scored more NHL points in his life than Alex Chiasson and Valeri Nichushkin have had bowel movements in theirs. But don't quote me on that.

You get the point.

The Stars are looking at the proposition of inexperience if the desires of the many are to be heeded and Chiasson and Nichushkin form an exciting, young part of the new top six. Chiasson's six goals in seven contests last season to go along with the prospect of Nichushkin heading back to the KHL rather than play in the American league, combined with a relative dearth of right wings otherwise seem to guarantee their inclusion on the roster.

Alex Chiasson isn't taking anything for granted, telling Stars Inside Edge "I don't expect anything, or anyone to give it to me. "I'm coming into training camp with the goal of making them keep me. I am going to work through training camp trying to be the best player I can and get a spot on the team."

A spot seems a near certainty. The role is not.

Oddly enough, it could be Cody Eakin and Shawn Horcoff that play a big part in the decision. Second line center is the other big mystery here, and all three of Rich Peverley, Horcoff and Eakin cannot be eliminated from consideration. Should Horcoff or Eakin prove capable in Ruff's mind, it frees Peverley to play on the right, at which he's excelled before.

Benn, Seguin, Peverley
Whitney, Horcorff, Cole

That could provide them with a combination of offensive capability, experience, speed, and defensive responsibility that will appeal to Lindy Ruff, though includes neither Chiasson or Nichushkin in feature roles right away, reducing the pressure to perform and hit the ground running on each.

Chiasson could show the same chemistry with Ray Whitney they had for a week and a half last spring. Nichushkin could bully his way up the lineup with an outstanding preseason, but shouldn't expectations be the more conservative route, at least to start the year?

Maybe the fun of it is that we have no idea. Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff's vision is unknown, but the experiments and plans will be laid bare soon, and when the speculation stops the analysis begins.