MAILBAG: Let’s make a trade

Is this guy on the trade block? (Photo by Christina Shapiro)

Is this guy on the trade block? (Photo by Christina Shapiro)

Let’s make a trade.

When I asked for mailbag questions this week that was the constant theme. Who will the Stars trade and how soon will it happen?

To start off, I think the Stars will make a move soon. It’s the only way the Stars can solve their overloaded roster problem on defense, and we’ve reached the point of the season where the Stars need a bit of a shakeup.

So before we make a trade, we have to recognize our movable asset.

John Klingberg isn’t getting traded, neither is Stephen Johns or Julius Honka. Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, and Jamie Oleksiak don’t have the trade value to really move the needle, so that leaves us looking at the veterans — Johnny Oduya and Dan Hamhuis.

You could get some takers on Hamhuis, but the obvious answer is Johnny Oduya. He’s an unrestricted free agent next season, could be a nice rental for another team, and would help unlock some of the log jam on defense. Oduya has a limited no-trade clause (he can list 17 teams he can be traded to), but it likely wouldn’t be hard to find a team interested.

So what would Oduya bring in return?

If you’re looking at player, it’s likely a depth forward. You could also swing Oduya for a pick and a prospect, which may be the more likely option.

Either way, Oduya (or Hamhuis for that matter) don’t land a goalie and they don’t land a big-name forward. So while I envision the Stars will make a trade sooner than later, it’s not going to be the big-ticket goalie trade some fans have asked for.

After making this hypothetical trade, the Stars would have two options. They could continue to carry eight defensemen (which wouldn’t be ideal), or they could send Julius Honka back to the AHL (which may also not be ideal).

Let’s dive into the rest of the mailbag.

Please don’t resort to human sacrifice.

A simple answer for Klingberg is consistency. He hasn’t played well on a consistent basis, and he hasn’t had the familiarity of a consistent defensive partner.

While he was often ripped on by some fans, Alex Goligoski was a good fit with Klingberg and he allowed the Swede to better play his game. The Stars signed Dan Hamhuis thinking he’d be a good fit with Klingberg, but that combination has not worked.

Of course, Klingberg also needs to be held accountable for his play. Once that happens he’ll start to trend in the right direction.

Even with hindsight I wouldn’t have brought back Jason Demers or Alex Goligoski. I think having Goligoski for this season would have worked well, but I don’t like his five-year contract that he got with the Arizona Coyotes.

Dallas would have been forced to spend big on Goligoski, and he wanted a no-movement clause (which he got in Arizona), so he would have handcuffed the future of the defense. I look at Goligoski’s departure as the Stars letting go of an asset one year early rather than four years too late.

Injuries are a factor, but that’s also become a crutch for this team.

It was a tough stretch for the Stars to get through, but at some point you have to get rid of the excuses and execute.

A lot of it comes down to finishing. Even in the games that the Stars have a high amount of quality chances, they aren’t finishing them and making opposing teams pay for mistakes.

On the other end of the ice, opponents have made the Stars pay for mistakes and it’s seemed to hurt the overall team psyche.

Not without an injury.

Philippe Desrosiers is in the ECHL right now with the Idaho Steelheads, while Maxime Lagace has emerged as the AHL starter. Landon Bow, who is on an AHL contract, has been backing him up recently.

Lagace has found some consistency in the AHL and has shaken off some early struggles. He had a great showing in NHL training camp, and he seems to have re-found that form.

However, Stars aren’t going to call-up a goalie from the AHL without an injury. While the Stars goaltending has been suspect this season, it hasn’t been the reason they are struggling to live up to expectations.

They don’t last very long.

I don’t have the exact statistic on that, but I can share some insight Radek Faksa gave me at practice earlier this season.

On the day before a game at the Stars practice facility in Frisco players are asked to put “game sticks” along the wall so it’s easier for the equipment staff to pack. Typically players put three sticks along the wall, but Faksa often packs five sticks for each home game.

I asked him why, and he said there have been game he’s broken all three sticks rather quickly — often on face-offs. Faksa tends to put a lot of pressure on his stick in the face-off circle, and it doesn’t always hold up.

The first call-up from the AHL right now would be Gemel Smith, he proved that when the NHL team needed fill-in help during injuries earlier in the season.

After that Justin Dowling and Jason Dickinson are viable NHL options now, while Matej Stransky and Remi Elie would probably be considered if the injuries got even worse.

The Stars won’t need a call-up on defense this season, but if they did Mattias Backman would be a good option.

I don’t have any insight to it. I’ve asked before, but haven’t really gotten many answers.

However, I think it would be a great idea. It might even improve programming with how bad the Dallas Mavericks are.

Special teams the difference in the Texas Stars loss to Chicago

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The Texas Stars had the start they wanted, but still fell in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Wolves.

Jason Dickinson beat Jordan Binnington with a slick wrister just 32 seconds into the opening frame.

However, a familiar tune would sound off in the ensuing action, with Texas committing three penalties to further burden a struggling penalty kill.

After Chicago’s Brett Sterling tied the game up with a bullet from the point, Brad Hunt would capitalize on the power play to give the Wolves a 2-1 lead.

Landon Ferraro padded the lead to 3-1 after a brutal odd man rush resulted in a goal that Lagace had no chance on. Unbroken, Texas quickly answered back with a slick no-look pass from Brendan Ranford to find Matej Stransky who had no problem burying the puck into an empty net.

Dickinson’s hard work breaking it out of the zone for a coast-to-coast chance in the first led to a drawn penalty to start the second frame.

Texas didn’t take advantage, but they punished Chicago with pressure. And not just with fists (although Austin Fyten would demonstrated this aptitude too).

The sustainted pressure seemed led to a goal.

Sure enough, the Stars were rewarded once Denis Gurianov deflected a point shot from Matt Mangene to tie the game at 3-3.

Both teams began the final frame with trepidation. Only two shots on goal were registered through the first several minutes.

Texas, proving that old habits die hard, would yet again get into penalty trouble. Cole Ully’s tripping penalty would be the backbreaker, as Kenny Agostino would net his third point of the night to beat Lagace for the game-winning goal.

Texas (10-7-1-1) faces Manitoba on Saturday at 7:30.

Texas Stars Line Up

Brendan Ranford – Travis Morin – Matej Stransky

Jason Dickinson – Justin Dowling – Brandon DeFazio

Cole Ully – Gemel Smith – Remi Elie

Austin Fyten – Mike McMurtry – Denis Gurianov

Andrew Bodnarchuk – Nick Ebert

Dustin Stevenson – Ludwig Bystrom

Brandon Anselmini – Ludwig Bystrom

Laxime Lagace

Scratches: Van Barbant, Werek, Backman

Wrong Side of the Red Line Podcast: Nine defensemen? Vegas? The All-Star Game?

First of all, this podcast was recorded on Monday before the Dallas Stars lost to the St. Louis Blues and it was posted Tuesday morning before they lost to the Detroit Red Wings.

Even without those results known, the podcast was still relevant was Ryan Satkowiak and I discussed defensemen, expansion, and the All-Star Game.

Here’s a quick rundown of the topics covered:

1 minutes: A thoughtful discussion on Thanksgiving meals.

6 minutes: We start to discuss the defensive scratches, again, and avoid a minor barking dog distraction.

15 minutes: Who do we blame for having this many defensemen is it on coaching or management?

20 minutes: Trade a veteran?

26 minutes: We try and break down who should be in the lineup once Johnny Oduya is healthy.

29 minutes: Jamie Oleksiak and Stephen Johns, pairing of the future? (Yes, we predicted this before the Detroit game, maybe Lindy Ruff listens to the podcast?)

36 minutes: Sean makes a cringeworthy cliche, and incorrectly calls it a pun.

38 minutes: We start to make the case for Oleksiak in the All-Star Game.

41 minutes: Expansion talk and Nichushkin.

53 minutes: We throw out great marketing ideas for the Vegas Golden Knights.

You can catch the podcast weekly on Soundcloud, iTunes and in Podomatic.

You can listen live right here:

November Dallas Stars Prospect Insider: Caamano, Ruusu, and updated rankings

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The November issue of Dallas Stars Prospect Insider is available today for subscribers.

Already a subscriber? Access your copy by following this link.

The most recent issue includes stories on Dallas prospects Nicholas Caamano and Markus Ruusu, while I’ve updated the Stars top-10 prospect rankings.

Haven’t subscribed?

You can subscribe here for just $3 per month.

The next issue will be the Stars 2016 Prospect Year in Review. That should come out around Christmas.

Stephen Johns didn’t dwell on AHL assignment and thrived in brief stint with Texas Stars

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 10: Stephen Johns #28 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

CALGARY, AB – NOVEMBER 10: Stephen Johns #28 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Stephen Johns wasn’t expect to play in the AHL this season.

Especially after a stout series of performances in last season’s NHL playoffs.

But his struggles (which weren’t just a manifestation of subjective coach speak from Lindy Ruff) led him back to Cedar Park this past weekend.

And just like that, he’s back in the NHL again. The Stars announced today that Stephen Johns has been recalled.

Johns himself spoke about the experience after Saturday’s 3-0 win against the San Antonio Rampage.

“It’s tough to sit in the stands,” Johns said.  “But I just had to use it as motivation to come down here and play as good as I can.”

Johns had goals in his two games against the Rampage. Of the three, two would end up as game winners.

Johns played a confident game in his own zone as well. Twice on Saturday he made coast-to-coast exits out of his zone, protecting the puck and generating a chance with decision making and bladework.

“He’s got incredible strength, incredible speed, and incredible skill. Confidence is a huge thing, and right now he’s probably lacking a little bit,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said after Saturday’s game. “Once he understands what kind of player he is, he’ll be real special to watch.”

Dallas is still struggling to define their blueline. If Lindy Ruff covets handedness across all three pairs, it’s possible he draws in against the St. Louis Blues. Handedness across defensive pairs is statistically crucial. So the prospect of John Klingberg, Julius Honka, and Stephen Johns along the right hand side sounds intriguing.

However, as usual with Dallas’ blueline, it’s still anyone’s guess. Whatever the case, Johns displayed the type of confidence Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff were hoping he’d reforge. A fitting set of performances for the Thanksgiving weekend from Johns, and something he’ll continue to build on.

Texas Stars shut out San Antonio Rampage, Stephen Johns strikes again

It only took Johns five minutes and change to find the back of the net in the Texas Stars 3-0 win against the San Antonio Rampage.

It was the third time in four periods since returning to the AHL from Dallas that Johns scored. It came on the power play from the point to beat Kent Simpson high.

“He doesn’t play the Power Play in Dallas so we’re trying to build a little confidence in his offensive game right now,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said.

Texas didn’t find the net again until the second period. Brandon DeFazio beat Simpson on the PK to put the Stars up 2-0. It was Texas’ third shorthanded goal in two games.

“Karl (Taylor) runs the PK and we worked on being more confident, and more of a pressure PK,” DeFazio noted on what has otherwise been struggling unit, that is finally establishing a rhythm.

It didn’t help that Texas was shorthanded a blueliner. Mattias Backman had trouble skating on his own after some contact in the neutral zone, and didn’t return for the second. Laxdal has classified his injury as day to day, however.

Not much later after DeFazio’s shorthanded magic, Cole Ully would capitalize on a crease kerfuffle around the crowded Rampage net to give Texas a commanding three goal lead.

Entering the third, Texas was sharp about staying out of the penalty box. Several penalties in the last frame, however, kept TX in the league lead when it comes to times shorthanded. Lagace took over from there, complimenting the team’s efforts.

“They kept most of the shots on the outside. So when I had to make a good save, it made it easy because I was confident.”

Lagace’s shutout Texas improves to 10-6-1-1 for the Stars’ 300th franchise win, and 3rd in the Pacific. They play the Chicago Wolves Nov. 30.

Texas Stars Line Up

Branden Ranford – Travis Morin – Matej Stransky

Brandon DeFazio – Justin Dowling – Remi Elie

Cole Ully – Jason Dickinson – Matt Mangene

Bryce Van Brabant – Gemel Smith – Denis Gurianov

Andrew Bodnarchuk- Stephen Johns

Mattias Backman – Nick Ebert

Dustin Stevenson – Ludwig Bystrom

Maxime Lagace

Scratches: Fyten, Werek,

Dallas Stars recall Stephen Johns after two-game AHL stint

Stephen Johns in a game earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Stephen Johns in a game earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Stephen Johns didn’t spend very long in the AHL.

The Dallas Stars recalled the defenseman on Sunday morning from the Texas Stars after he scored three goals in two games against the San Antonio Rampage this weekend.

Johns offensive impact was obvious, while he was also strong defensively — particularly in the second game.

Johns addressed his offensive ability after Texas 3-0 win last night.

“I don’t think I expected to score three goals,” Johns said. “I just wanted to come down here, be comfortable skating, playing with the puck again and making smart decisions. I think that a couple times, I got a little over confident with the puck, but it was a lot of fun. We’ve got a great group of guys in this locker room, and it was a lot of fun.”

The Stars are now back to eight healthy defenseman and will have to make another difficult choice when Johnny Oduya comes off injured reserve. Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak have been playing very well lately and probably need to stay in the lineup Monday against the St. Louis Blues, while Julius Honka has continued to look comfortable in the NHL.

We may find out more at practice today in Frisco.

Here is the official release:

FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Stephen Johns from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Johns, 24, has produced four points (2-2=4) in 16 games played for Dallas this season. He currently leads the team with 44 hits and ranks fourth with 32 blocked shots. The defenseman has also appeared in two AHL games with Texas, recording three goals (3-0=3).

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound native of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania was selected by Chicago in the second round (60th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. He was acquired by Dallas along with Patrick Sharp from Chicago in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt on July 12, 2015.

Stars Notes: Klingberg plays best game of the season, young defense shines against Canucks

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 10: John Klingberg #3 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

CALGARY, AB – NOVEMBER 10: John Klingberg #3 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

DALLAS — John Klingberg felt he played his best game of the season in a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

Paired with Esa Lindell, who had a goal and an assist, Klingberg played a simpler game against Vancouver and didn’t make some of the defensive mistakes that have plagued him earlier this season.

“I think this was my best game so far this season, I felt actually really good today,” Klingberg said. “Felt like I was moving a lot better. Didn’t think too much when I got the puck, when you’re not thinking on the ice you’re moving a lot faster and better and I think I had some good defensive plays too. I’m going to try and build from this.”

Klingberg said it was easy to play with Lindell, and the duo have found better chemistry after Lindell went to the American Hockey League for a brief stint.

“We talk a lot, we talk about every shift what we can do better,” Klingberg said. “I’m happy to play with him. Good puck mover, good skater, he’s got really good vision and it’s fun to play with him.”

Postgame video

I’m experiencing with a quick video after each game going forward. Here is the first attempt.

Lindell with the quick release

Both Klingberg and Stars coach Lindy Ruff praised Lindell’s quick release was a key on the Stars goals.

“The release on both of the goals, I don’t think he scores unless the release is that quick,” Ruff said. “Esa did a real nice job for us.”

Lindell has worked on getting shots through traffic since he’s came over to North America. Last season in the AHL he was frequently one of the last players of the ice after Texas Stars practice. Lindell and Julius Honka would work on drills where they had to pick corners or shoot over a prone stick, often creating competitions.

At one point last season I asked Lindell and Honka about who won, and both of them claimed they had never lost the post-practice competition.

Oleksiak sticking in the lineup?

Jamie Oleksiak played his third straight game and led the Stars with 22:13 of time on ice. The big defenseman was a key penalty killer and he played a big part in the final two minutes as the Stars killed off a penalty to Patrick Sharp.

“I thought overall the young D gave us a solid performance out there,” Ruff said. “In (Oleksiak’s) case he was moving pretty good out there. With his reach and his stick, we are trying to utilize that a little more on our penalty killing and he did a nice job.”

Faksa line shuts down Sedins

Daniel and Henrik Sedin spent most of the night going head-to-head with Radek Faksa, Antoine Roussel, and Brett Ritchie — and the Stars won that matchup.

“Just play hard against them,” Faksa said. “Try to hit the body and they are two of the best players in the NHL, so you just have to be careful.”

On top of their defensive work, Faksa scored his second goal of the season.

Johns sent to AHL and finds back of the net

Stephen Johns was sent to the Texas Stars on Friday morning after back-to-back healthy scratches.

It may not be a long stay in the AHL. Johns could play back-to-back games against the San Antonio Rampage and return to Dallas before Monday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

Johns scored twice in his AHL season debut, first blasting home a one-timer on a 2-on-1. He even added a nice celebration.

He then finished the game off in overtime.

It was a strong response to the comments by Ruff that he initially took Johns out of the lineup because of his recent struggles moving the puck, which have been tracked in this chart.

Canucks lineup

Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Brandon Sutter
Markus Granlund — Michael Chaput — Louis Eriksson
Alexandre Burrows — Bo Horvat — Jayson Megna
Joseph Labate — Brendan Gaunce — Jack Skille

Alexander Edler — Troy Stecher
Ben Hutton — Erik Gudbranson
Luca Sbisa — Nikita Tryamkin

Ryan Miller
Jacob Markstrom

Scratches: Alex Biega, Sven Baertschi (day-to-day foot injury)

Injuries: Derek Dorsett (shoulder), Jannick Hansen (rib), Anton Rodin (knee), Christopher Tanev (lower body), Philip Larsen (illness)

Stars lineup

Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Patrick Eaves
Patrick Sharp — Cody Eakin — Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel — Radek Faksa — Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski — Devin Shore — Adam Cracknell

Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis — Julius Honka
Jamie Oleksiak — Jordie Benn

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratches: Patrik Nemeth, Curtis McKenzie

Injuries: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jiri Hudler (illness)

Stars send Stephen Johns to the AHL

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 10: Stephen Johns #28 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

CALGARY, AB – NOVEMBER 10: Stephen Johns #28 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars have assigned Stephen Johns to the Texas Stars.

Johns has been a healthy scratch the past two games for Dallas, and Lindy Ruff hasn’t been pleased with his puck movement.

Instead of having the righty sit in the press box tonight against the Vancouver Canucks, he’ll be playing in the AHL against the San Antonio Rampage. The Texas Stars have a back-to-back this weekend against San Antonio, so it could be an opportunity for Johns to play big minutes in a two-game span.

If Johns isn’t going to play tonight and he’s going to be a healthy scratch (whether you agree with that or not), this is the right decision. In fact, the Stars should be doing the same thing with Esa Lindell (and they did this before Johnny Oduya’s injury) and sending waiver-exempt defensemen down to play in Texas whenever they drop to lowest spot on the depth chart.

Also, a quick clarification: while Johns is on a one-way contract, he’s still waiver exempt. A one-way contract or two-way contract doesn’t impact waiver status, all it does is indicate how much a player gets paid at each level. In Johns’ case, he’ll make $725,000 whether he is in the NHL or AHL.

Here is the official release:

FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has assigned defenseman Stephen Johns to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Johns, 24, has produced four points (2-2=4) in 16 games played for Dallas this season. He currently leads the team with 44 hits and is tied for third with 32 blocked shots.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound native of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania was selected by Chicago in the second round (60th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. He was acquired by Dallas along with Patrick Sharp from Chicago in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt on July 12, 2015.

MAILBAG: Who to protect? Who goes to Vegas? And how does Nichushkin impact the expansion draft

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Happy Thanksgiving, I hope everyone is enjoying the turkey and mashed potatoes.

And what better way to celebrate then with a mailbag?

I had a couple questions pop up about the expansion draft, like this one.

And frankly it’s perfect time to discuss. The 31st NHL team was officially named this week as the Vegas Golden Knights, and on June 21, 2017 one current member of the Stars will become a Golden Knight through the expansion draft.

So, who will Stars general manager Jim Nill protect in the draft? And who might get drafted by the Golden Knights?

First we need to remember the ground rules.

The Stars — and all teams for that matter — can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie or they can protect any combination of eight skaters and one goalie.

Players on their entry-level contract, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection and don’t have to be protected (Devin Shore and Julius Honka for example).

Players with a no-movement clause in their contract must be protected, unless they waive their no-movement clause and agree to be exposed for the draft.

For the Stars that means the Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn must be protected, which obviously isn’t an issue for Dallas.

You also have to keep unrestricted free agents in mind since certain players (for example Patrick Sharp and Patrick Eaves) aren’t under contract for next season and don’t need to be protected.

It’s a fair guess that Dallas will go the 7-3-1 route and protect more players, so let’s take a look at each position.

Forwards:

The first two are obvious and required by the NHL, so we’ll start there. Then you have Tyler Seguin, who will be protected, and Cody Eakin who the Stars made a long-term commitment to before last season. Radek Faksa would be my fifth protection, since I consider him a key part of the Stars future down the middle.

1. Jamie Benn
2. Jason Spezza
3. Tyler Seguin
4. Cody Eakin
5. Radek Faksa

Now it starts to get interesting and you have to make a difficult choice for the final two selections. Do you protect two players that are active members of the roster right now? Or do you hold on to hope that Valeri Nichushkin will return to the NHL?

While Nichushkin isn’t playing in the NHL this season, the Stars would have to protect him or Vegas could select him in the expansion draft, and I think that would be an attractive option for general manager George McPhee.

Remember, the Golden Knights are going to make 30 selections in the draft and you carry 23 players on an active NHL roster. McPhee is going to make some selections that are either prospects or long-term projects, and Nichushkin is a desirable long-term project if he pans out.

So, it forces the Stars to make a decision on Nichushkin. Are they really confident he’s going to return to the NHL after a two-year stint in the KHL? If so, you may have to protect him in the expansion draft and expose either Antoine Roussel or Brett Ritchie.

Let’s assume the Stars still have faith in Nichushkin, and I believe that they do, so we’ll use the sixth protection spot on Nichushkin.

6. Valeri Nichushkin

So, who do you pick between Ritchie and Roussel? Ritchie may be the better player in the long run, while Roussel has a better recent track record. At this moment you protect Roussel in my opinion, while Ritchie’s play over the next 61 games could change that.

7. Antoine Roussel 

Now, let’s look at the defense.

Defense:

Remember the Stars can protect three defensemen, and the first choice is obvious.

1. John Klingberg

I also think the second and third choices are also fairly obvious. Stephen Johns, while scratched recently, is a part of Dallas future. As is Esa Lindell, who is probably a dozen games or so from really establishing himself as a high-level NHL defenseman.

2. Stephen Johns
3. Esa Lindell

Remember Julius Honka doesn’t have to be protected, while Johnny Oduya is a free agent. That leaves Dan Hamhuis, Patrik Nemeth, and Jamie Oleksiak available for Vegas.

Now for the final positions, goalies.

Goalies:

Honestly, you could flip a coin on this one. And I don’t think Vegas will take either goalie Dallas leaves unexposed. After my personal coin flip, Kari Lehtonen is the one left exposed.

1. Antti Niemi

So that leaves the following situation for Dallas.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-7-41-31-pm

If this situation plays out the Stars will likely lose either Ritchie or Hamhuis, depending on how the Golden Knights construct the rest of their roster.

Now on to other mailbag questions.

It’s a small sample size, but it’s certainly an indicator of what Honka can do in the future. At his best, Honka will be a smart puck-moving defenseman that plays with a little bit of a physical edge.

Remember, that’s a long-term diagnosis. The more immediate question is how will he continue to play while Johnny Oduya is on the injured reserve?

Oduya’s stint on IR is the unofficial deadline for Nill to make a decision and send one defensemen to the AHL so the Stars will be roster compliant. Is Honka amongst Dallas’ top six defensemen at this time next week? If the answer is yes, he’ll stay in the NHL. If the answer is no, then another defenseman will be on his way to the AHL.

Have you watched this cheese video yet?

In all seriousness, when I was a kid we once used a hardened dinner roll in a post-Thanksgiving street hockey game. Neighbor lost the orange Mylec ball and we were trying to keep the game going.

Ryan is based in Bowling Green, Ohio. So he got to eat the cheese pucks, I missed out on that opportunity.

It’s a nice talking point for the league, but I don’t think a 2-0 shutout by Andrei Vasilevskiy is going to convince too many other goalies that they have to volunteer to wear smaller pants.

Goalies are creatures of habit, and many won’t embrace change willingly.