You may have noticed that throughout Defending Big D's countdown of impact players from Patrick Eaves to Tyler Seguin that there was one player that wasn't addressed -- Rich Peverley.
It's hard to say what impact Peverley could have on this team in the strict on-ice sense this season, because we don't know yet if he'll be able to return to play. The latest update as training camp opened last week was that he had been cleared for workouts but no real timetable exists for the extensive testing that will assuredly be needed to lead up to a medical clearance for returning to the ice -- much less for contact when he gets there.
There's really three ways it could go with Peverley this season.
Scenario #1 - The feel good ending
This scenario would see Peverley return to the ice with a clean bill of health and with no incidents.
When Peverley was in the lineup, he was a kind of 'glue guy'; one you could insert into the lineup on almost any line. He's defensively responsible, which made him one of the go-to forwards on the second penalty killing unit. He also has the skating ability to keep up with the dynamic duo of Seguin and Jamie Benn and never looked out of place on a line with two finishers. Peverley seems to be more of a setup guy which is why it worked so well with the shoot-first mentality of those two.
Assuming Peverley and his family decide that he wants to come back even after being cleared, the versatility of the forward would give Lindy Ruff another option in his lineup. With injuries that occur throughout the season, reliable depth is always a good thing to have.
Scenario #2 - Peverley doesn't return to the ice this season
In this scenario, Peverley would not be cleared to return to the ice this season but continues to make progress to that end further down the road. While everyone assuredly wants to see him make the triumphant return after such a scary incident, I don't think anyone would want the process to be rushed. The team, doctors and player will take cautious steps towards a return, but there's really no way of knowing a timetable for any of this.
One thing that we can be sure of, however, is that Peverley will remain a part of this team no matter what. He's doing the workouts off ice, and during training camp was often observing the team on the ice along with the coaching and scouting staff.
Scenario #3 - Peverley never returns to the ice
After the initial shock of Peverley's collapse last season, many people speculated that there was no way he could ever return to play. We don't know the player's thoughts or his family's thoughts on the matter, and it's unfair to say what is best for someone. We also don't know if he will ever get full medical clearance.
It's still a possibility that the best thing for Peverley could be a retirement from the game he's played his entire life -- a tough end on a career that would be cut way too short.
There are other implications that go along with Peverley and his potential return/non-return this season: cap hit, contract status (he's in the last year of his current deal), etc. But those pale in comparison to the more important things Peverley is: father, husband, son, friend, teammate.
At the end of the day, those facets of Peverley are the most important and the ones that Stars fans should be concerned with, regardless of his playing status.