It could have been so, so much worse than a small fracture in the sternum.
After going into the boards last night and having to be stretchered off the ice, Dallas Stars public relations indicated that defenseman Roman Polak suffered a small fracture in the sternum. He’ll be out for at least a week, at which time he’ll be re-evaluated. I’d expect that even if he’s cleared to return to activity at that time, he’ll miss time after that as he gets back into game shape. Realistically, it’s likely at least two weeks before he returns at the earliest I’d guess.
With Blake Comeau straining something in his lower body and expected to be out for weeks (two to four, depending on the results) and Jason Dickinson out at least for the next week thanks to an upper-body injury suffered from a cross-check last night (pending test results as well), the Stars find themselves with only 10 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen. That’s why they made a bunch of roster moves today.
First, Corey Perry and his fractured foot bone have been moved to injured, non-roster. It’s a move that’s not that common in the NHL, but is allowed if a player isn’t able to perform or is injured at the beginning of the season (and, therefore, was never really on the roster to begin with). Here’s the full rule:
16.11 (a) For any other Player who fails the Club’s initial physical examination in any League Year, or is injured, ill or disabled while not on the Club’s Active Roster, he shall not be eligible for, and may not be placed on, Injured Reserve, but instead shall be eligible to be, and may be designated as, Injured Non- Roster.
Basically the designation is like injured reserve for players that weren’t ready to go at the beginning of the season. Both Comeau and Dickinson are headed to the injured reserve list, allowing the team to recall Rhett Gardner and Nicholas Caamano, some of the last forwards cut from training camp this season.
Because the Stars were practically at the salary cap ceiling ($75,000 under, give or take a few dollars), Martin Hanzal was officially placed on long-term IR to allow the team the cap space to make the call-ups. What does that mean for the salary cap? Here’s the short version:
Hanzal is going to be on LTIR for the rest of the season since his playing career is over. Stars have just over $3 million remaining in Hanzal's LTIR space after the Gardner and Caamano call-ups.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) October 4, 2019
Gardner is more of a two-way player and saw some penalty kill time during the preseason, so I’d expect him to fill into the bottom six forward group. Caamano has seen a lot of top six minutes in the AHL, so either he or Gurianov could see time in the top six in Dallas where Dickinson was playing.
Dallas has two games this weekend — Saturday night versus the St. Louis Blues and Sunday early evening against the Detroit Red Wings. They’ll travel with 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen, with Taylor Fedun drawing into the lineup with Polak out.
Hopefully that’ll be enough to get them through both games.