As the Dallas Stars prepare for their 2017 training camp, we’re finding more bits and pieces of the line-up puzzle coach Ken Hitchcock has on the table.
Digital correspondent Scott Burnside looks at five “burning questions” (get it?) that face Our Gang as they get ready to face the season (and the murderous Central Division). To the surprise of absolutely no one, the blueline is top of the list – for everyone, it seems, but Hitch himself:
"I don't care if we carry 12 defensemen," Hitchcock said. "I just know that if those six are going those six are playing. We're not having tryouts, we're not having tryouts in the middle of the season. If we're happy with the six, then you've got to wait your turn. And when it's your turn then you've got to go."
The dilemma becomes one of establishing a threshold for what are acceptable levels of mistakes in a game that is all about mistakes. Young players -- especially important players like [John] Klingberg, [Julius] Honka and Esa Lindell who figure to be very much in the mix to be among the top six -- can't play afraid. That's where veteran defensive specialist and long-time Hitchcock associate Rick Wilson will be key in keeping the seven or eight defensemen in a groove.
This season, there also looks to be an embarrassment of riches in the forward corps – namely, in the number of centers available. Be prepared for Tyler Seguin and Martin Hanzal to be the only full-time pivots, Burnside writes:
By our count, there are at least seven players headed to camp who could lay claim to being a natural center. That's a lot.
But is it too many? Not according to Hitchcock. "Because that means that you've got people that know how to play low in your own zone and they can read off of each other," Hitchcock said. "It's nothing but a bonus. We can win more face-offs than probably we've ever won. And we can make ourselves be better supporting our defensemen better than most teams because we've got a lot of guys that know how to play that position. So they're comfortable going down low. They're not going to veer away from being the responsible low guy when it's their turn."
All this and more about Mattias Janmark, Ben Bishop and Alexander Radulov is under the link. [Dallas Stars]
ICYMI, the Stars have video of Saturday’s sled hockey game benefiting the Southwest Wheelchair Athletic Association. Watch the action with Antoine Roussel, Adam Cracknell and Dan Hamhuis, plus gold-medal Paralympian Taylor Lipsett.
Admit it, you love those special burgers named after Stars players. Here’s your chance to invent one – the deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Reminder: The Klingburger is already taken.)
If you haven’t gotten to know prospect D-man John Nyberg, you should. Mark Stepneski can help bring you up to speed.
In addition to his coverage of the 2017 Traverse City Prospects Tournament, Mark has an update on the Valeri Nichushkin Watch. [Between the Blue Lines]
And Sean Shapiro has the highlights as the Stars prospects play their best game of the tournament so far, but still fall 4-2 to the Minnesota Wild.
Around the league(s)
Cap trouble, rookie readiness, Jaromir Jagr and more make Craig Morgan’s list of seven things to watch for during the NHL training period.
USA Today asked where NHL players would put the next expansion team, and their answer might surprise you, which is to say not at all.
Ken Warren has posted a long interview with Erik Karlsson about the surgery to replace a damaged tendon in his left heel, and when he might return to the Ottawa Senators line-up.
For clarity, Erik Karlsson's new ankle tendon is not "artificial". Clearly just a language thing. He told me today it's from a cadaver.— Steve Warne™ (@TSNSteve) September 11, 2017
Meanwhile, fellow defender Kris Letang has been cleared to attend training camp after his own off-season surgery for a herniated disc. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is hoping for a change this season. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Good news for Tampa Bay Lightning fans: Early reports indicate that Amalie Arena escaped unharmed from Hurricane Irma.
Amalie Arena Appears to Survive Hurricane Irma https://t.co/G6NLwhgWSY— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) September 11, 2017
Meanwhile, in Sunrise, the Florida Panthers are hosting local utility crews and first-responder staging operations in BB&T Arena, which also appears intact.
It’s past time somebody posted some preseason videos of at least one elite player (preferably two) doing trick shots and goofing off and just sorta breakin’ stuff. Connor McDavid and Brent Burns are happy to oblige. (You’re welcome.) [NHL on NBC]
Meanwhile, take a look at how Jaccob Slavin and family are spending the last days of summer.
Jaccob Slavin is preparing for the new season in a rather unique fashion: https://t.co/GJymp3KqF8— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) September 12, 2017
Hey, it’s about time to check in on Patrick Eaves, doncha think? Here he is, with his amazing beard and his h*ckin cute doggos, waiting for hockey season (and for the approaching school bus that’s bringing his kids home). Good job, Major. 13/10