The battle for the presumed final roster spot on the forward side of the Dallas Stars lineup became more clear Friday afternoon as the team sent three of the four remaining rookie forwards back to the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Mark Stepneski was first with the news.
The Dallas Stars assign forwards Remi Elie, Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson to Texas (AHL).— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 2, 2015
Elie, Faksa and Dickinson all had reportedly strong camps (though Dickinson missed most of the end of the preseason with some sort of minor injury). Faksa in particular received a long look as a potential bottom six forward, but a relatively crowded lineup of NHL-experienced players left no real slot for him at the moment.
The moves means the battle for the final forward roster spot, assuming waiver exemption is the key factor, comes down to Mattias Janmark and Curtis McKenzie. Janmark has spent more time with offense-oriented units in the preseason and has shown strong offensive instincts, but he is also fairly raw, does not yet have a full season on North American ice and has a nasty habit of taking too many penalties.
McKenzie, who scored in last night's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, has 36 games of NHL experience to his credit with four goals and one assist, all last season. He projects as a lower line player and has spent the vast majority of the preseason playing third and fourth line minutes.
Both McKenzie and Janmark are waiver exempt, though reports have been that Janmark's original plan was to play with Frölunda of the SHL if he did not make the original roster. If both men stay on the 23-man roster, a player such as Travis Moen would have to clear waivers (or start the season on injured reserve) to make room.
The other likely AHL player still remaining on the NHL roster is goalie Jack Campbell, who is apparently sidelined for the next little bit. Players cannot be sent to the AHL until healthy.
Also, goaltender Jack Campbell is expected to be out a couple weeks with a hand injury.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 2, 2015
The Stars have 25 players remaining on the roster, not counting the injured Brett Ritchie. General manager Jim Nill has repeatedly said the plan is to start the regular season with eight defensemen.
The other implication of these moves is the Stars will have the ability to have another dress rehearsal lineup for Saturday's pre-season finale in Chicago.
Here are the lines the team ran at Friday's practice, without the since-demoted players:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzie - Vernon Fiddler - Travis Moen
Mattias Janmark - Colton Sceviour
And here are the defensive pairs:
Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka - Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak