Jryki Jokipakka To Make NHL Debut vs. Devils; Is Adam Larsson a Logical Trade Target for Dallas Stars?

The Dallas Stars will have a new face on the blue line tonight against the Devils.

The Dallas Stars exploded for eleven goals the past two games with the offense rolling along thanks to the high-powered top line combination of Jason Spezza centering Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Yet there were concerning defensive issues that included the team as a whole and not just the blueline, and with two big games against New Jersey and New York coming up, it was thought a more balanced lineup would be used.

For two days, ever since the win over Vancouver, Spezza spent practice back on the second line between Cole and Hemsky. The change back to the more rounded-out configuration made sense as the Stars were about to embark on a road trip, where Ruff would not have the advantage of the matchups and his top line could be targeted much easier. Spreading around the firepower makes sense.

The Stars line combinations today were back to having Spezza between the dynamic duo, a configuration for the team that worked wonders to quickly put goals on the scoreboard but then faltered defensively late. After two days of practice, Stars lines this morning were as such, according to Mike Heika.


Goligoski - Daley
Benn - Dillon
Jokipakka - Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen will start in net tonight, which presumably means Lindback in goal against the high-powered Islanders. Interesting.

The big change up top is Curtis McKenzie appears to be a healthy scratch, another odd change after Ruff called the Cole-Horcoff-McKenzie line the best of the game against Vancouver. What's important to note, however, is that it doesn't appear that what was iced for morning skate will be the actual configuration that Ruff uses tonight against New Jersey. At least to start with.

"We want them to win games," said Ruff, when asked this morning about his use of the super-powered top line. "I put them together late in a game to see if they could win a hockey game and they were able to do that."

That being said, these lines seem to be more about Ruff further exploring his options and building chemistry for the team.

"I think inside of a game...I may not start them together tonight, but inside of the game I might go to them", said Ruff. "I want certain individuals to get comfortable with each other. I think we know what they can do on the offense side. We have to clean up our defense a little bit. At the same time, it's a great option to have."

On defense, rookie Jyrki Jokipakka will make his NHL debut. The big and steady defenseman had a tremendous training camp and preseason and could provide a solid and patient presence on a blue line that has been rather erratic at times this season.

"He had a real solid camp for us," said Ruff on Jokipakka. "Our defending wasn't at the top of it's game... I thought, through the preseason, he might have been the best young guy. At least based on my numbers."

Jokipakka's presence could also help Oleksiak get more into his comfort zone. The big defenseman has improved in his own zone this year but his strengths lie in creating offense and making plays in transition as well, and having a more defensive oriented partner could certainly help him along. It's important to note that the two did not play together much, if at all, last season for Texas.

Adam Larsson a healthy scratch; Is he really a viable trade target for Stars?

With the Stars facing the New Jersey Devils tonight, a lot of discussion among fans and some media is the status of defenseman Adam Larsson and what seemed to be an impending trade out of New Jersey. The big and promising defenseman has struggled to live up to expectations and has found himself out of favor with the Devils, and it seems almost inevitable he will eventually get traded at this point.

Larsson will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Stars.

With the Stars having some defensive issues this season already, on top of losing Patrik Nemeth for the year, some are wondering if Dallas should be one of the teams inquiring about Larsson.

It's the allure of potential and promise with Larsson, a mobile defenseman with good size and a good first pass who has struggled with his skating on North American ice. At this point, it's thought just a change of scenery is what he needs, or perhaps just the right coaching to get his skating back on track, but the truth is that trading for Larsson is far from trading for a sure thing.

Are the Stars in a place, with so many young defensemen already, to take on a "project" like Larsson? Of course, as these things always do, it depends on the price. Larsson does have a lot of potential and it's likely the Devils won't part with the young defensemen unless the price is absolutely worth making the move.

You'd have to likely give up a defenseman in return, possibly a relatively high draft pick. The value of the trade is relatively low at this point, but it still might be too pricey for a team like the Stars to consider. You'd have to think that if Jim Nill were to pull the trigger for a defenseman, it would be for one a bit more established than Larsson.

As with all things of this nature, you can never really predict how these things play out. After all, no one thought the Stars would actually trade for Tyler Seguin until it actually happened.