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Dallas Stars Roster Appears Set: Patrik Nemeth and Curtis McKenzie Put on Waivers; Julius Honka Likely to Start Season in NHL

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Dickinson, Hintz and Elie were also assigned to Texas this morning, while Gemel Smith is staying in the NHL

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After all the drama of training camp, the Stars appear to have all but finalized their 23-man roster for the season. Monday morning, Dallas assigned Jason Dickinson, Remi Elie and Roope Hintz to the AHL, which was not unexpected.

Hintz had a good early camp, but as time went on, he didn’t quite force the issue enough to separate himself from the pack. Still, he made his case, and we’ll likely be seeing him in Dallas again this season when the need arises.

An NHL roster, however, consists of 23 players, not 25. Which, to that end:

Patrik Nemeth, should he clear waivers, will be returning to the team he scored that legendary Calder Cup winner for four seasons ago. You never know, of course, but I would bet on Nemeth clearing waivers at this point. That said, it’s been a frustrating few years for Nemeth, and my guess is he wouldn’t be heartbroken to be claimed if it meant NHL ice time.

Curtis McKenzie would also be a good callup option for Dallas, as someone with good NHL experience and a sound playing style that likewise doesn’t seem likely to be grabbed on waivers at this point in the season. (Especially with so many players on the waiver wire today and rosters all but set across the league.)

That means, barring any other last-minute changes in the next 24 hours, the Stars will open the season with lines looking something like:

Benn-Seguin-Radulov

Janmark-Spezza-Ritchie

Shore-Hanzal-Pitlick

Roussel-Faksa-Cracknell

Gemel Smith

It’s good to see Smith get a shot again after playing really well for Dallas last year. Smith looked good in the Stars’ final preseason game, and he is certainly quite capable of being an NHL forward, as he proved last season. Starting off as the 13th forward on a stacked Dallas team is impressive, especially considering Smith was playing in the ECHL just two seasons ago, having all but fallen off the radar for Dallas. Full credit to him for getting back here.

The Stars, as you may notice, only have 13 forwards because guess how many defensemen there are?

Here are the projected pairings and scratches:

Lindell-Klingberg

Methot-Oleksiak

Hamhuis-Johns

Julius Honka, Greg Pateryn

The Stars might be one of the only NHL teams I’ve seen in a while that have four right-shot defensemen and choose to scratch (if indeed that’s how opening night shakes out) two of them.

It appears that Honka might not be thrown into the lineup right away, and there’s a reason for that:

While Honka’s game does appear largely ready for the NHL, there’s no question that his defensive game could use some polishing. More than anything, I wonder if it might be Hitch’s plan to familiarize Honka with a new system as much as possible before unleashing him on the rest of the NHL.

So, there you go. Carrying eight defensemen isn’t quite as bad when your forwards all appear healthy and you don’t need the extra bodies. It’s also less troubling (for now) than last year when one of that group was an ideal 7th (Pateryn) and the other doesn’t have much he would benefit from by being in the AHL at this point anyhow (Honka). Of course, if Honka eats nine scratches to start the season, then we can revisit this. I’d bet he ends up suiting up by game five at the very latest.