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While The Opening Night Roster Is Set, More Moves Are Likely Before The Stars Take On The Rangers This Week

There’s some paper moves that might be needed to get around some salary cap issues, and some recalls are likely to be made prior to the first game of the season.

St Louis Blues v Dallas Stars Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars made roster moves today to get to the maximum 23 player roster in advance of the NHL season opening Tuesday night.

The final submitted roster looked as follows:

The Stars tried to maximize the salary they are carrying on the opening night roster to use as much of Ben Bishop’s cap hit as possible so that they can call up players from the AHL this season. Cap gymnastics are nuanced, and quite complicated — it’s why teams have a cap expert on staff. Matt DeFranks at Dallas Morning News puts it very well (subscription required):

“Accounting for performance bonuses is something the Stars would have to do in order to recall players from the AHL. When a team is using LTIR and it recalls a player, the NHL only allows them to do so if the team has enough space for both their cap hit and their potential performance bonuses — no matter how close that player is to hitting them.

So if the Stars wanted to recall someone like Thomas Harley, they would need space for both his $863,33 cap hit and his $212,500 in performance bonuses. That’s part of why players with big performance bonuses (like Oettinger and Dellandrea) were included on the NHL roster.

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Had the Stars used in-season LTIR, they would have had to fit Bishop’s $4.917 million cap hit under the $81.5 million salary cap. At that point, they could have placed Bishop on LTIR and had $4.917 million available to use during the season. But putting Bishop on the roster under the $81.5 million cap would have necessitated a mixture of waiving players or trading players off the roster to create room.”

The update on Bishop’s status today was that he is still not cleared to play, a refrain I would expect to hear from the coaching staff until something changes with his availability. Given the way Bishop described his injury and that there really wasn’t a time frame the doctors could give him for a return, I’d imagine there’s no target date in mind from either the player’s or organization’s perspective to get him back into the lineup as it’s hard to predict when that time might come. He’ll have to continue working with goaltending coach Jeff Reese and the training staff to keep rehabbing the knee injury.

That means that some players were left on the roster that are likely destined to start with the Texas Stars in the AHL. With the Stars not playing until Thursday, the daily cap savings/usage plays into the amount of LTIR that can be used throughout the year. So, you’ll see a lot of what is commonly referred to as “paper” moves, with player contracts sent to the AHL while the player physically remains with the NHL team until they are “recalled” a day or two later. It’s a pretty common practice for NHL teams every year, so Dallas isn’t unique in this.

Based on lines seen at practice today, Jacob Peterson is likely to be actually present on the real opening night’s roster — the one the team will use to take on the New York Rangers in the first game where the points actually matter this season.

Here’s what the first game’s roster is more likely to resemble, with Ty Dellandrea and Oskar Back headed back to the AHL before that time, assuming one of Jason Robertson or Blake Comeau are not unable to play. Both today were deemed “day-to-day” by head coach Rick Bowness with upper-body injuries. Jani Hakanpää was placed on IR retroactive to September 27th, so he should be eligible to return for the first game of the season. He practiced today and was a full participant.

Jacob Peterson - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jason Robertson - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Michael Raffl - Jamie Benn - Denis Gurianov
Joel Kiviranta - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Tanner Kero / Luke Glendening

Ryan Suter - John Klingberg
Esa Lindell - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - Jani Hakanpää
Joel Hanley

Braden Holtby
Anton Khudobin

The coaching staff will not tip their hand regarding starting goaltender for the first game on Thursday. Based on each player’s history, the preseason performances of each, and the fact that the team plays on the road in the East to start the year, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Holtby get the first start of the season.