Editor's note: After choosing three finalists for the new Daily Links contributor at Defending Big D we're having them submit real links posts that will run on the front page this week. This is the first such submission, presented here under my account to preserve the author's anonymity during the "competition." Tell us what you think in the comments. -BG
With the Traverse City Prospects Tournament beginning play tomorrow, the young Stars are being labeled as early favorites. The Left Wing Lock ranks the team's rosters, and the Stars are at the head of the pack. Small surprise, as the lineup is stacked with blue chip prospects. The Stars will be sending five first-round picks to the tournament: Valeri Nichushkin, Jason Dickinson, Radek Faksa, Jamie Oleksiak, and Jack Campbell. Only Buffalo will play more, with six first-rounders appearing on their roster.
And while some teams are icing a large number of unsigned free agents, notably the Wild with fourteen, the Dallas roster consists almost exclusively of players already a part of the Stars system.
This might be our first chance to really get excited about the rebuild.
For some of the prospects, this will be an initial look at how they stack up against elite competition before returning to their respective minor league teams. Others though we can expect to see lace up for Dallas this season. Nichushkin and Alex Chiasson are virtual locks for the forwards, while Oleksiak should see the chance to build on his brief taste of NHL action last season.
In an interview with NHL.com, Stars General Manager Jim Nill had this to say:
Here, we get to evaluate our kids against their own age group. The thing we didn't realize was how high a level of play it would become and, looking at the alumni of players who have come out of this tournament ... Zetterberg, Heatley, Datsyuk, Skinner ... the level of play at this tourney is so high for this time of year. When you think about putting a bunch of kids together, who never played together on the ice, you think, 'Oh boy, this isn't going to be that crisp of hockey,' but the hockey is unbelievable.
The Stars - along with the Wild, the Blues, and hosts the Red Wings - will be playing in the Gordie Howe Division, while the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Sabres, and Rangers fill the Ted Lindsay Division. And I don't care what you think about those names, at least they're better than the ‘Metropolitan' Division.
The schedule for the five-day tournament can be found here.
This is it. The countdown to the season is truly beginning. Traverse City tomorrow, Training Camp on the 12th, first pre-season game on the 15th, and the big day in early October that I'm sure everyone already has circled on their calendars. Or highlighted on Google, whatever you do these days.
Ahem. Links? Yes please.
He's close, but still on the outside looking in. Some thoughts on Jordie Benn's new contract and his chances of cracking the Stars lineup. Two articles! So much love for Jordie Benn! [Stars Inside Edge] [NBC Sports]
On The Dallas Morning News Stars blog, a profile on Shawn Horcoff. A good chance to get acquainted with one of the newer members of the Stars. Or perhaps to get acquainted with the question marks surrounding one of the newer members of the Stars... [Sports Day DFW]
And a brief interview with Sergei Gonchar, talking Olympics, signing with Dallas, and some thoughts on Valeri Nichushkin. [Sports Day DFW]
Speaking of veteran players, it looks as if Teemu Selanne will be returning to the Ducks for a final season. What? Another final season? [SB Nation]
In other Ducks news, with training camp fast approaching, here's some footage as our former-Pacific Division rivals take to the ice. [Anaheim Calling]
And as if we needed another reason to hate the guy, it's been revealed that Gary Bettman's salary for the 2011-2012 season topped $8 million. Which must have been a pretty heavy hit on the League's cap space... [CBS Sports]
Projections here for the US Olympic team this coming year. I nearly discarded the link when I read through and didn't see any Stars names, but, well, here it is anyway. [The Globe and Mail]
And finally, just in case you missed it over the holiday weekend, here are some highlights from the Hockey World Championships, a tense match pitting Columbia against the Philippines. Wait, no, sorry, that can't be right. Checking my notes... ah. Some highlights from the Underwater Hockey World Championships. No seriously. Check it out. [UWH World Championships 2013]