With training camp now just a few days away, Brett Ritchie's recent wrist surgery has raised plenty of questions — not only about which Texas Stars forward will play in his place for the next three to four months, but about whether the Dallas Stars' projected roster structure is up to the challenge of dealing with in-season injuries among the forward corps.
Mike Heika has talked to GM Jim Nill about it, and Nill said what he's been saying all along.
When asked if Ritchie was going to have a tough time making the opening day roster anyway because of one-way contracts and waiver situations, Nill said that wasn't a problem because both Ritchie and Curtis McKenzie could be sent to the minors (McKenzie has 34 more games to go before he has to worry about waivers). But he said it also wouldn't be a problem because the best players are going to play.
[I]f we are taking Nill at his word, then any number of players could grab that spot. Devin Shore, 21, Radek Faksa, 21, Jason Dickinson, 20, and Remi Elie, 20 are among the forwards who have a legitimate chance to make the opening day roster.
Where this wide-open fight for roster spots could get particularly hairy is on the blueline, where prospects like Stephen Johns, Julius Honka and Esa Lindell appear more and more ready to prove they belong in Dallas. This may be one of many reasons why Nill doesn't share in any recent concern over carrying eight defenders on the roster:
"I hear people or read people who worry about us having eight defensemen, and I don't really get it," Nill said of the fact most teams carry seven defensemen and 14 forwards, and many "people" have trouble when teams don't follow the normal way of doing things. "Players get hurt, you need a lot of depth on defense, and I think we have great depth. I'm really not worried about it."
The defense does seem fine, with the only real problem being that you might have to send away a pretty good player if it gets too crowded. More concerning is the fact that keeping eight defensemen means you only have room for one extra forward. Ritchie's injury sort of opens the door for a real competition to find who that forward might be, but Nill said that competition was going to be there anyways.
There's more, much more, at the link. [SportsDayDFW]
The Traverse City prospect tournament is on, training camp begins this week, and Daily Links is going back to being, you know, daily for real. The hockey drought is ending, folks, so Melissa and I will be working double-time to keep up as of today. You're welcome.
Speaking of Traverse City, Mike G. Morreale has selected a few standouts from the action so far, and the fact that Johns and Honka made the cut is a huge surprise, said no one who's been paying attention. [NHL]
NHL.com has also posted a Team Russia roster projection for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and everyone's favorite Instagrammer is mixing it up with the Ovechkins and Malkins and Kucherovs of the league. [NHL]
Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars, RW -- With great size (6-foot-4, 210) and skill, Nichushkin draws comparisons to Ovechkin. He is an excellent skater with quickness, agility, a dangerous shot and good playmaking ability. Last season was marred by injuries, but the 20-year-old has the potential to be a top-six forward.
Rich Peverley talked with Mike Heika about his new job with the Stars and making sure his career is not defined by one haunting incident. [SportsDayDFW]
Jonathan Willis made a list of five guys who won't score as much this season as they did in 2014-15. [SportsNet]
And the folks at BarDown were inspired enough by this picto-representation of the greatest NFL players ever to wear a number that they did their own version for the NHL.
Connor McDavid got a goal, an assist, and his bell rung by Jake Virtanen in his first professional game on Friday night. It's like some kind of generational-forward hat trick, I dunno. [FOX Sports]
Elsewhere, fellow 2015 Big Draft Deal Jack Eichel made his tournament debut with his fellow Buffalo Sabres prospects and got his first assist at 25 seconds into the first period.
And now that Cody Franson's long free-agency nightmare is over, he talks with Josh Cooper about the complicated hockey-ecosystem failures that contributed to his late signing, and says that yes, he still trusts his agent. [Puck Daddy]
With Québec City now in Phase 3 of its NHL expansion bid, favorite son Patrice Bergeron talks about his childhood Nordiques fandom and the city's burgeoning hopes for their return. [SportsNet]
Meanwhile, after the proposals and the deposits and the beautiful and expensive new arenas, the NHL still hasn't really committed to expanding at all – and it may be because the current owners are doing too well financially.
In this weekend's episode of "The Rous is Loose," Antoine Roussel did a photo shoot with the Dallas Stars Foundation.
And @DallasStars said this, because OH LIKE YOU WEREN'T THINKIN' IT.
Paint me like one of your French hockey players. https://t.co/qEjiiVE77F— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 13, 2015
Meanwhile, Captain Jamie Benn has taken on new duties as a designated greeter for visitors to American Airlines Center.
And during the NHL media tour, Tyler Seguin cemented his reputation as That Guy Who Will Do Anything For an Amusing Photo or Clip. Behold his stick-figure art and arm-wrestling of Elliotte Friedman!
Finally: NHL 16 releases tomorrow, but in the intervening 24 hours we have this final promo, featuring two very familiar forwards playing together and #winning together like the tag line says. Enjoy.