Unless he’s playing mind games with us, Ken Hitchcock and his coaching staff have decided who will be starting for us on defense this upcoming season.
Who exactly those six skaters technically remains mystery, but most believe that the defensive pairings from Thursdays’ practice hold the answer:
Hitch said he's decided on his six d-men. Won't reveal. Pairs today:— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) September 28, 2017
Most fans’ hearts will sink after reading the last name on the list. Yes, it seems like despite all the praise he got at the beginning of training camp, Julius Honka is going to be sent down to Cedar Park to spend yet another year in the AHL.
Or is he?
But what if they can dance the financial tightrope of keeping Honka on the NHL roster as part of an eight-man defense? Then, he could be taught the new system by Hitchcock and assistant coach Rick Wilson in practice, get the benefit of his NHL salary, and not be frustrated by a return to the AHL. Now, not playing would also be frustrating, but it might also be illuminating for the 21-year-old to sit in an NHL pressbox when he already has 191 games of AHL experience.
I’m not sure I like the sound of that, especially when Honka could be called up as early as the sixth game if the current defense doesn’t end up working out. But it’s still one of the many options that lie on the table. Those sorts of decisions will be out of Hitchcock’s hands, however; it’s time for Jim Nill to make the hard calls.
Here’s what Sean Shapiro has to say on Honka likely being the odd man out:
Hitch has always praised Honka's offensive talent -- he was even on PP today. But always pointed out Honka had work to do on other end. https://t.co/cAOIRMHDNp— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) September 28, 2017
Martin Hanzal was back on the ice on Thursday skating again while Jamie Benn was off for a maintenance day. [NHL]
Mike Heika discusses whether Tyler Pitlick can be the next Star to “come out of nowhere.” [SportsDay DFW]
Despite coming off a (relatively) down year, our captain has been a model of consistency the past several seasons:
Although it won’t be in a Dallas Stars uniform (to start, at least), Denis Gurianov is looking forward to the upcoming season. [100 Degree Hockey]
Devin Shore has become a versatile player who can be “Mr. Fix It” for Ken Hitchcock. [SportsDay DFW]
If you were hoping to see our potential starting lineup tomorrow evening, I have some bad news for you:
Saturday's preseason game will not be dress rehearsal like originally planned. Hitch says he'll be holding back the "A team"— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) September 28, 2017
The Dallas Stars’ final Defining Moment was definitely one to remember:
Around the League
Let’s give a hand to the NHL: the stats team has finished a six year project to convert every recorded stat in league history to its digital archives. [NHL]
Bruce Arthur has an excellent piece discussing the national anthem issue and the NHL, and where the few black players in the league stand on the issue. [The Star]
Speaking of which, the NHLPA has come out in preemptive support of players who might protest:
NHLPA will support peaceful protests from players https://t.co/x9Xhubd0mT— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) September 28, 2017
Joe Quinn has been training many of today’s younger stars, from Connor McDavid to Taylor Hall, using some strange yet innovative techniques along the way. [Sports Illustrated]
Warning: the following hit is quite brutal.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are just two of the many NHL players who think that Sidney Crosby is still the best in the game right now. [Sportsnet]
Finally, Ben Bishop is in some good company when it comes to recent wins; let’s hope he moves up the list throughout the season: