With their playoff odds down to almost nil, the Dallas Stars have assigned both Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie to the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Ritchie and McKenzie formed a formidable lower line with Shawn Horcoff, though it is one that's been quieter as of late, after the trio was put together earlier this month. They started off the month with a bang, but neither McKenzie nor Ritchie have a point in the last six games. McKenzie has just two points - one goal and one assist - in his last 12 while Ritchie has one goal in his last nine.
The move likely signals the imminent return of Valeri Nichushkin to the Stars lineup. Nichushkin, who is scheduled to be recalled from a conditioning assignment in Cedar Park after Wednesday's game, has missed most of the season while recovering from hip surgery.
Even without Nichushkin, the Stars have a pair of extra forwards would could fill in. Colton Sceviour and Travis Moen were healthy scratches in Monday's loss to the Calgary Flames, though it should be noted Moen has not played since February 17th against the St. Louis Blues.
Both McKenzie and Ritchie were sent down to the AHL in paper transactions several weeks ago, so they are eligible to play in the AHL playoffs should the Texas Stars clinch a berth. Texas is currently sixth in the Western Conference, three points out of ninth.
Here is the official release from the team:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has reassigned left wing Curtis McKenzie and right wing Brett Ritchie to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
McKenzie, 24, has appeared in 36 games for Dallas this season posting five points (4-1=5) and 48 penalty minutes. In 25 games with Texas this season, he has posted 17 points (6-11=17) and 64 shots on net.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of Golden, British Columbia was selected by Dallas in the sixth round (159th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft.
Ritchie, 21, has posted nine points (6-3=9) in 31 NHL games with Dallas this season. He scored his first career NHL goal in his first career NHL game on his first shot on Dec. 31, 2014 vs. the Arizona Coyotes. In 25 games with Texas in 2014-15, he has posted 18 points (11-7=18) and a +10 plus/minus rating.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of Orangeville, Ontario was selected by Dallas in the second round (44th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.