I-35 Report: Lagace locks down the Texas Stars crease

Maxime Lagace waits for a shot during warmups before a game earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Maxime Lagace waits for a shot during warmups before a game earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Editor’s note: For those unaware, I’ve moved to Dallas and now cover the Dallas Stars for NHL.com. However, Wrong Side of the Red Line will continue to house Dallas Stars prospect coverage and will have updates on the AHL-affiliated Texas Stars. This is the first of a weekly feature with updates on the AHL team.

It’s only been two games, but it looks like Maxime Lagace has locked up the starting job for the Texas Stars.

The goalie got back-to-back starts this past weekend as Texas swept the Charlotte Checkers. Lagace made 77 saves on 81 shots, this coming after he had a stellar NHL preseason and training camp with Dallas.

“His strength and conditioning are the difference,” Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “He dealt with injuries last year that were nagging and could have been avoided with better training. This summer he really took that to heart and he was one of our best players in fitness testing.

“He was under a barrage of shots this weekend and I think the reason he was able to hold up in the third period was because of his conditioning.”

So what initially started as a four-player competition for the AHL starting job has been won by Lagace. Henri Kiviaho and Landon Bow are the ECHL tandem for the Idaho Steelheads, while Philippe Desrosiers is going to be the back-up in Texas.

Texas has three games this week in California, and it looks like Lagace will start at least two of those games.

“We’ll get Phil into some games, but right now it looks like we’ll give Max the game Wednesday (in Stockton). If we change our mind and give Phil that game, Max will probably start both of the weekend games,” Laxdal said. “We still have to figure it out exactly, but I think we’ll end up seeing Max playing three out of every four (games).”

Gurianov learning on the fly

Denis Gurianov made his AHL debut this past weekend and has his first career point. Gurianov was on a line with Gemel Smith and Remi Elie, and Laxdal said that group was “one of the most consistent” lines against Charlotte.

Gurianov still has to learn the ins and outs of the AHL, but he brings the right energy and pace to the game. He was used primarily in 5-on-5 situations against Charlotte, but Laxdal did give the rookie a couple power play opportunities when Texas had a big lead in a 6-2 opening-night win.

“Denis didn’t have too many offensive chances, but I really like him in our own zone,” Laxdal said. “You can see that he wants play over here and he really wants to do well in North America.”

Texas Stars recent scores and lineups

Oct. 14 6-2 win vs. Charlotte Checkers

D. Ryan (09:09 2nd) , A. Poturalski (04:56 3rd)
J. Dowling (06:52 1st) , N. Ebert (18:49 1st) , C. Ully (19:40 1st) , M. Backman (19:59 1st) , M. Stransky (16:16 2nd) , B. DeFazio (18:32 2nd)

W: Lagace (34 saves)

Brendan Ranford — Travis Morin — Matej Stransky
Brandon DeFazio — Justin Dowling — Cole Ully
Remi Elie — Gemel Smith — Denis Gurianov
Bryce Van Babrant — Mike McMurtry — Brandon Troock

Andrew Bodnarchuck — Julius Honka
Mattias Backman — Ludwig Bystom
Dustin Stevenson — Nick Ebert

Maxime Lagace

Oct. 15 4-2 win vs. Charlotte Checkers

A. Poturalski (12:12 1st) , P. Brown (06:04 2nd)
B. DeFazio (14:16 1st) , A. Bodnarchuk (18:26 1st) , G. Smith (08:16 2nd) , J. Dowling (18:58 3rd)

W: Lagace (43 saves)

Brendan Ranford — Travis Morin — Matej Stransky
Brandon DeFazio — Justin Dowling — Cole Ully
Remi Elie — Gemel Smith — Denis Gurianov
Bryce Van Babrant — Matt Mangene — Brandon Troock

Andrew Bodnarchuck — Julius Honka
Mattias Backman — Ludwig Bystom
Dustin Stevenson — Nick Ebert

Maxime Lagace

Texas Stars set to open 2016-17 season with mix of prospects and veterans

The Texas Stars open the season Friday against the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars open the season Friday against the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars open their 2016-17 season Friday against the Charlotte Checkers.

Texas is entering its third season under coach Derek Laxdal, who has led the team to the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. During the 2015-16 season Texas was up-and-down at points, eventually falling to the San Diego Gulls in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s going to be an interesting season for Texas.

In the earlier years of the franchise Texas took advantage of struggles by the NHL team. The AHL team frequently got a beefed up roster in the playoffs, and younger players weren’t graduating to the NHL team as consistently.

Today, the Dallas Stars are a favorite in the Western Conference. The Dallas Stars have odds of 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup and are relying heavily on AHL graduates like Devin Shore, Radek Faksa, and Stephen Johns.


Texas captain Travis Morin has been with the team since the inaugural season and is still core of the offense. Morin dealt with illness in training camp, but when healthy he’s still one of the most efficient passers in the AHL — particularly on the power play.

Morin leads a group of forwards that includes Texas mainstays Brendan Ranford, Justin Dowling and Matej Stransky, while a group of younger players have a chance to make an impression this season.

Remi Elie, Gemel Smith, and Cole Ully could all win jobs amongst the top-six forwards. And all three need a strong season after a disappointing 2015-16 campaign.

Denis Gurianov, a 19-year-old first-round pick, will be one of the closest watched prospects in the Stars system. Gurianov spent last season in the KHL and struggled, but should have a chance to better develop in Dallas’ system as he tries to replicate the path Julius Honka took as a teenager in the AHL.

AHL-contracted players Brandon DeFazio and Mike McMurtry also had strong training camps and looking to solidify themselves in the Texas lineup.

Texas should also get reinforcements up front at some point soon. Jason Dickinson is a top-tier center in the AHL and will be back in early November after off-season hip surgery. Texas will also benefit from a trickle down effect as Dallas gets healthier and the likes of Adam Cracknell or Curtis McKenzie should join the forward ranks.


Texas likes to play fast, just like its NHL parent club and the defense will push the pace in Cedar Park.

Julius Honka has matured and has seemingly grown into a top-tier AHL defenseman and turned heads in NHL training camp. Honka started playing a more physical game later last season and it really meshes well with his offensive vision. If Dallas wasn’t stockpiled with defenseman, he’d be closer to an NHL appearance this season.

Honka will likely start the season paired with Mattias Backman, who is the quietly effective defensive anchor. Backman isn’t going to wow anyone with his skill, but his positioning and ability to read the play will mesh well with the Stars system.

Ludwig Bystrom should be in a better spot than he was last season and could earn power play time, while Nick Ebert is a right-handed shot and slots in well on the second pairing. Ebert has to get better positionally, but Laxdal likes the raw skills the defenseman brings.

Texas also has a veteran presence on the back end in Andrew Bodnarchuck and Matt Mangene, while the defense only gets better if Dallas elects to send down Esa Lindell at some point in the near future.


Maxime Lagace was the surprise story of last season and he built on that success this summer. Multiple coaches and management members have pointed out how Lagace came into camp as one of the Stars best athletes Laxdal said he’s earned the No. 1 job and the start on opening night against Charlotte.

Phillipe Desrosiers will be the other goalie in the AHL and if things go according to early plans, the starts will be a 3-1 ratio for Lagace. It’s important that the Stars get Desrosiers playing, but Laxdal said he’ll have to earn his starts.

AHL-contracted Landon Bow will start the season with the Idaho Steelheads, but could be a reliable back-up in case of an injury.

Dallas Stars sign Ondrej Vala to entry-level contract

The Dallas Stars have signed defenseman Ondrej Vala to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Vala was a free agent invite for the Stars at the 2016 Traverse City Tournament and was effective, but not overwhelming.

Vala is a big defenseman that will play with Kamloops in the WHL this season.

Here is the official release:

FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed defenseman Ondrej Vala to a three-year entry-level contract.

Vala, 18, is currently playing his second season with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He has skated in two games this season with the club, recording eight penalty minutes. During the 2015-16 season with the Blazers, he was the only team defensemen to skate in all 72 regular-season games and recorded 21 points (4-17=21), ranking third among club defensemen in both points (21) and assists (17). In seven postseason contests, he recorded one assist (0-1=1).

“Ondrej has shown a combination of size and physicality along with the ability to play a defensively responsible game at the junior hockey level,” said Nill. “He was part of our team this year at the Traverse City Tournament and we look forward to his continued development playing for Don Hay and the coaching staff in Kamloops.”

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound native of Kolin, Czech Republic has competed on the international level for the Czech Republic, skating in five games at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship in Grand Forks, N.D. He also represented his country at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, appearing in four games.

Mobile defense shines in Dallas Stars intrasquad scrimmage

Mattias Backman scores on a penalty shot in White's 7-4 victory against Victory Green. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Mattias Backman scores on a penalty shot in White’s 7-4 victory against Victory Green. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK, Texas — The Dallas Stars mobile defense put on a show in an intrasquad scrimmage that closed out a three-day training camp in Cedar Park.

Defenseman Nick Ebert had a hat trick while Julius Honka and Mattias Backman also scored in Team White’s 7-4 victory against Team Victory Green.

“I thought it was a real good day on the offensive side for our defensemen,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “Even a guy like Ebert, who’s new to the crew here, had a real good day. I thought Honka skated really well. Overall I noticed our defense and their mobility.”

Ebert helped lead a comeback victory for Team White after Victory Green had taken a 3-0 lead in the second period.

Jiri Hudler, Brendan Ranford, Cole Ully, and Backman also scored for White. Honka, Patrick Sharp, Remi Elie, and Patrick Eaves scored for Victory Green.

It was a scrimmage fitting of the Dallas Stars hockey.

The teams combined for 11 goals on just 40 shots, while the scoring was inflated with penalty shots being awarded after each infraction.

Eaves scored on a penalty shot after he was hauled down by Mattias Janmark early in the first period, slipping a wrist shot past Kari Lehtonen.

Four minutes later Honka stripped the puck in the neutral zone skated in and blasted a shot past Lehtonen to double Victory Green’s lead to 2-0.

Remi Elie pushed the lead to 3-0 in the second period when he tipped Johnny Oduya’s point shot.

Team White then started its come back in the middle stanza.

Backman scored on penalty shot, beating Antti Niemi through the five-hole. Ebert, who arrived in at trade this off-season from the Los Angeles Kings then scored on the first shot against Philippe Desrosiers.

Brendan Ranford tied the game on another penalty shot, scoring on forehand to backhand move that he’s copyrighted in Cedar Park.

After the three-goal onslaught Green responded when Patrick Sharp beat Maxime Lagace on a move in tight.

Jiri Hudler tied the game for White at 4-4 early in the third period before Ebert scored the eventual game winner. Cole Ully made it 6-4 on a penalty shot, while Ebert ice the game with an empty netter to close out a hat trick.

Lehtonen finished with nine saves on 12 shots, while Niemi stopped five of six shots. Maxime Lagace finished with seven saves on eight shots, while Desrosiers had eight saves on 13 shots.

Notes: Cody Eakin (knee), Jamie Benn (resting), Travis Morin (illness), Tyler Seguin (heel), Devin Shore (ankle) all didn’t participate in the scrimmage.

Victory Green

Matt Mangene-Jason Spezza-Patrick Sharp
Brandon DeFazio-Gemel Smith-Connor Chatham
Remi Elie-Justin Dowling-Matej Stransky
Antoine Roussel-Patrick Eaves-Brett Ritchie

Johnny Oduya-Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom-Stephen Johns
Jordie Benn-Jamie Oleksiak
Dustin Stevenson

Philippe Desrosiers
Antti Niemi


Samuel Laberge-Mattias Janmark-Jiri Hudler
Curtis McKenzie—Adam Cracknell-Brendan Ranford
Brandon Anselmini-MIchael McMurtry-Branden Troock
Cole Ully-Mattias Janmark-Denis Gurianov
*Janmark skated with two lines in rushes

Dan Hamhuis-John Klingberg
Patrick Nemeth-Andrew Bodnarchuck
Mattias Backman-Nick Ebert
Chris Martenet

Kari Lehtonen
Maxime Lagace

Bow makes 33 saves, Gurianov scores as Dallas prospects top St. Louis

Stars prospects lineup for the national anthem before a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Sean Shapiro)

Stars prospects lineup for the national anthem before a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Sean Shapiro)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Landon Bow kept the St. Louis Blues at bay long enough for the Dallas Stars offense to click and close out the Traverse City Prospects Tournament with a 5-3 victory in the fifth-place game.

Bow — who is signed to an AHL contract with the Texas Stars — made 33 saves in his tournament debut. He stopped 18 of 19 shots in the first period and kept it close on the scoreboard while St. Louis dominated possession.

“It was nice getting a lot of shots there, it didn’t give me a lot of time to think about anything else,” Bow said. “Just play hockey, and I felt really good out there.”

And Dallas rewarded its goaltender in the second period during a nine-minute stretch in the second period.

After St. Louis took a 2-0 lead, the Stars started a four-goal onslaught when Mike McMurtry scored on a wrist shot through traffic. Dallas then tied the game when a dump-in took a weird bounce off the boards and Connor Chatham scored into the empty net after Blues’ goalie Ville Husso had went behind the net to play the puck.

After the free agent invitees tied it up, the Stars well-known prospects put the game away.

Nick Caamano scored on a breakaway after a stretch pass from Ludwig Bystrom with 5:14 remaining in the period. Denis Gurianov then set up Devin Shore for the fourth goal when he turned an defender around and then made a backhand pass.

“The goal he set up there was a beautiful goal,” Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “I like what he brings … I’m looking forward to seeing him in main camp and training camp and this season.”

St. Louis countered late in the second period, but Dallas added an insurance goal in the third when Shore setup Gurianov on the power play.

Dallas lineup:

Remi Elie-Devin Shore-Cole Ully
Nick Caamano-Michael McMurtry-Denis Gurianov
Samuel Laberge-Ethan Szypula-Austin Glover
Jordan Topping-Grayson Pawlenchuck-Connor Chatham

Ludwig Bystrom-Niklas Hansson
Chris Martenet-Gordon Ballhorn
Ondrej Vala-Miro Karjalainen

Landon Bow
Henri Kiviaho

Scratches: Philippe Desrosiers, Cordell James, Brandon Anselmini

Dallas GM Jim Nill wouldn’t be surprised if Nichushkin heads to KHL

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Dallas Stars general manger Jim Nill said he wouldn’t be surprised if restricted free agent Valeri Nichushkin signs with CSKA Moscow in the KHL for the 2016-17 season.

Nill confirmed that Nichushkin has a two-year contract offer on the table in Russia.

“I’m not going to be surprised if he does sign there,” Nill said. “They know our offer, they know where we’re at. It’s his decision. I’m not going to stop that.”

“The good news is he’s 21 years of age, he’s going to play over there and keep developing,” Nill continued. “I just hope we get a more mature player when he decides to come back over. It’s not the end of the world.”

Nill said the Stars would hold onto Nichushkin’s rights for six more years and he’s at the point in his career where he has to produce.

Nill also confirmed that Radek Faksa is dealing with concussion-type symptoms at the World Cup. The Czech center missed today’s game against Team Europe and will be reevaluated tomorrow.

Since the tournament is run by the NHL, Faksa would have to pass the NHL’s concussion protocol to return to to play.

Stars prospects lose late lead, drop shootout against Rangers


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The Dallas Stars prospects let a late lead slip away and got unlucky in the shootout of a 5-4 loss to the New York Rangers prospects.

The Rangers tied the game with 34.4 seconds remaining with an extra attacker on the ice to force overtime. After a scoreless overtime, which featured a failed power play by Dallas, New York got the fortuitous bounces in the shootout.

Henri Kiviaho stopped Jimmy Vesey’s initial attempt with his glove and then let it drop. One ref seemingly waived the play dead, but there wasn’t a whistle and the puck slowly trickled over the line for a goal.

On the ensuing attempt Devin Shore hit the cross bar for Dallas and New York then scored to close out the game.

For Dallas it was a frustrating finish to a game that was carried by their free agent invitees. Three of the Stars four goals were scored by players not considered Dallas prospects, while Brandon Anselmini (who is signed to an AHL contract with the Texas Stars) was one of the best defensemen for Dallas.

“We talked yesterday, it’s opportunity and exposure,” Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “They played well yesterday and they created expectations. And I thought they did a good job of rising to the challenge.”

Grayson Pawlenchuck had a goal and an assist, Michael McMurtry (also on an AHL contract with Texas) had a goal, James Cordell had two assists, and Connor Chatham had a goal to lead the group of non-Dallas prospects looking to impress scouts from all 30 NHL teams in attendance.

Kiviaho made 27 saves on 31 shots. The Finnish goalie couldn’t do much on a couple of the goals (a 5-on-3 power play and a breakaway), while he made a couple key stops in the second and third period.

Rangers’ goalie Brandon Halverson stopped 36 of 40 shots, including the best save of the tournament so far when made a diving glove save on Cole Ully, who was looking for his second goal of the night.

“I thought he kept them in the game,” Laxdal said. “He was really good in the second and third period.”

Dallas scored three times on 17 shots in the second period as free agent invitees sparked the offense after the Rangers had taken a 2-1 lead on a 5-on-3 power play and a breakaway goal.

Chatham tied the game after a nice build up by fellow free agent invites Anselmini and Pawlenchuck.

Anselmini carried the puck into the zone and chipped it to Pawlenchuck who set up Chatham in front of the net.

Pawlenchuck then added his own tally on a rebound and gave Dallas the lead, while McMurtry gave Dallas a 4-2 lead after a nice feed from Denis Gurianov.

Malte Stromwell scored 7:06 into the third period for New York to cut Dallas’ lead to 4-3 before Cristoval Nieves tied the game with 34.4 second remaining.

Notes: Philippe Desrosiers was given the day off after stopping 22 of 23 shots on Friday against the Minnesota Wild … Chris Martenet came out of the lineup after struggling in Game 1. He was replaced by Free agent invitee Gordon Ballhorn. At forward Jordan Topping came out of the lineup for Cordell James … Dallas has tomorrow off before playing Carolina on Monday in it’s final game of group play.

Dallas lines:

Remi Elie-Devin Shore-Cole Ully
Nick Caamano-Michael McMurtry-Denis Gurianov
Samuel Laberge-Ethan Szypula-Austin Glover
Grayson Pawlenchuck-Cordell James-Connor Chatham

Ludwig Bystrom-Niklas Hansson
Ondrej Vala-Brandon Anselmini
Gordon Ballhorn-Miro Karjalainen

Henri Kiviaho
Landon Bow

New York lines:

Jimmy Vese-Cristoval Nieves-Ty Ronning
Ryan Gropp-Reid Duke-Pavel Buchnevich
Robin Kovacs-TIm Gettinger-Malte Stromwall
Michael Joly-Steven Fogarty-Zachary Zborosky

John Gilmour-Calle Anderson
Sean Day-Sergey Zborovsky
Colton Bobyk-Zachary Malatesta

Brandon Halverson
Joseph Raaymakers

Ully leads Stars prospects to 3-1 victory

Cole Ully celebrates his goal in the first period of the Texas Stars 2-1 victory. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Cole Ully celebrates his goal in the first period of the Texas Stars 2-1 victory. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Cole Ully is supposed to be one of the Dallas Stars best players at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

He’s one of the older prospects on the team at 21 and he now has 44 games of AHL experience to build upon. So, it only made sense when Ully was the best forward on the ice as the Stars prospects beat the Minnesota Wild prospects 3-1 to open the tournament Friday.

Ully scored twice and had a handful of chances skating on a line with fellow AHLers Devin Shore and Remi Elie.

His first goal tied the game for Dallas in the second period, a sneaky wrist shot that beat Minnesota goalie Stephen Michalek through the five-hole. He then iced the victory with an empty-net tally when he patiently out waited a Wild defenseman.

It was his first game since his 2015-16 season ended prematurely with with a collarbone injury suffered back on March 29 against the Bakersfield Condors.

“It felt good to play some competitive hockey again,” Ully said. “In the summer you’re competing, but it’s just not the same. It felt good to be physical again.”

And Ully threw around his generously listed 6-foot, 170-pound frame. Along with Shore and Elie, the trio often hemmed Minnesota into it’s own end, and there wasn’t any hesitancy crashing the net.

Overall it was a strong start to the tournament for Dallas.

Philippe Desrosiers turned away 22 of 23 shots and looked sharp after some some shaky rebounds in the first period. Denis Gurianov looked comfortable in his first game in North America and several of the free agent invitees played above their non-draft status — including Samuel Laberge who scored the game-winning goal off a face-off win by Ethan Szypula in the third period.

“I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal, who is coaching the prospects team, said after the game. “There were some ebbs and flows, but I thought we had good push back and I thought our guys did a good job of staying composed.”

Gustav Olofsson scored the lone goal for Minnesota, a chance from the point that traveled through traffic in the first period.

Dallas lines:

Remi Elie-Devin Shore-Cole Ully
Nick Caamano-Michael McMurtry-Denis Gurianov
Samuel Laberge-Ethan Szypula-Austin Glover
Jordan Topping-Grayson Pawlenchuk-Connor Chatham

Ludwig Bystrom-NIklas Hansson
Chris Martenent-Brandon Anselmini
Ondrej Vala-Miro Karjalainen

Philippe Desrosiers
Henri Kiviaho

Minnesota lines:

Sam Anas-Joel Eriksson Ek-Alex Tuch
Mario Lucia-Adam Gilmour-Christoph Bertschy
Nick Sracino-Parker Bowles-Alex Petan
Pevel Jenys-Cody Bradley-Keegan Iverson

Gustav Olofsson-Gustav Bouramman
Nolan Zajac-Nick Seeler
Hunter Warner-Braydyn Chizen

Stephen Michalek
Adam Vay

Stars prospects set to kick-off the season in Traverse City

Devin Shore is expected to be one of Dallas' better players at the prospect tournament in Traverse City. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Devin Shore is expected to be one of Dallas’ better players at the prospect tournament in Traverse City. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Dallas Stars season unofficially starts tomorrow in Northern Michigan.

While training camp is still a week away in Cedar Park and the NHL campaign doesn’t officially start until Oct. 13, the Stars management looks at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament as the kick-off event for the 2016-17 season.

The five-day tournament, featuring prospects from eight NHL teams, lays the groundwork for several of the Stars younger players.

Last year Mattias Janmark turned a strong showing in Traverse City into an NHL roster spot at training camp. Radek Faksa didn’t make the NHL club out of the gate, but his recuperated shoulder passed all the early tests in Traverse City and proved he was ready to eventually grab an NHL role later in the 2015-16 season.

“It’s a chance for these kids to grab an opportunity and make something of it,” Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal, who’s coaching the prospects team, said earlier this week. “Look at what Janmark did last year. He really shot out of a cannon and we never saw him (in the AHL).”

There are a couple intriguing storylines the Stars will be tracking during the tournament.

Denis Gurianov, the Stars first-round pick in 2015, will embark on his rookie season and start to make his transition to North America. Gurianov is going to play in the AHL this season and Laxdal said he’s interested to see the teenager in game action.

“It’s going to be a process,” Laxdal said. “One thing when working with and coaching the European kids is getting to know them better. I think that’s a big part for them, what’s the best way to deal with that player? He’s coming in to a place where he’ll be the only Russian and he’s working on learning English. So we need to find the best way to work with him.”

Devin Shore will play his first live competition, with full contact, since having his shoulder repaired around Christmas last season. Shore looked good at development camp back in July, and he’s expected to be one of the better players for Dallas at the prospects tournament.

Chris Martenet is slated to spend this season in the OHL with the London Knights. However, a strong showing by the big defenseman in Traverse City could earn him a spot in the AHL roster instead of an overage year in the OHL.

This tournament will also kick off the goalie competition for the Texas Stars. Henri Kiviaho, Landon Bow, and Philippe Desrosiers are all headed to Traverse City and expected to play. Those three, plus Maxime Lagace, have all been told they have a chance to earn an AHL roster spot this season.

The Stars prospects open the tournament on Friday at 3:30 pm (2:30 CST) against the Minnesota Wild prospects and the games will be streamed live on DetroitRedWings.com.

Here is the full roster:

Forwards: Nick Caamano, Denis Gurianov, Devin Shore, Ethan Szypula, Jordan Topping, Cole Ully, Connor Chatham, Remi Elie, Austin Glover, Samuel Laberge, Michael McMurtry, Grayson Pawlenchuk, Cordell James

Defensemen: Miro Karjalainen, Chris Martenet, Niklas Hansson, Ludwig Bystrom, Brandon Anselmini, Gordon Ballhorn, Ondrej Vala

Goaltenders: Landon Bow, Philippe Desrosiers, Henri Kiviaho

Texas Stars Mailbag: Projecting the AHL roster

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

It’s been a relatively busy week for Stars-related news. The team announced the Traverse City Prospects Tournament roster, Matt Mangene was signed, and Scott White was promoted to assistant general manager with the NHL club.

I can’t think of a better time for a mailbag. Let’s get started:

I got quite a few questions about the Texas Stars lineup for this upcoming season, so let’s see how the lineup could shake out for opening night.

Barring another move by the NHL club — and assuming Valeri Nichuskin is signed — it appears Dallas will have 14 forwards fighting for 12 NHL jobs and eight defensemen that are virtually locked in for NHL duty. So, that boils down to a three-man competition between Adam Cracknell, Curtis McKenzie, and Brett Ritchie for the final NHL roster spot on opening night.

With two players from that group pushed to the AHL, Texas now has a group of 15 forwards fighting for 12 jobs in the AHL. For the sake of this experiment, I gave Ritchie the NHL job leaving your AHL forward list at:

Brendan Ranford
Travis Morin
Devin Shore
Justin Dowling
Denis Gurianov
Brandon DeFazio
Jason Dickinson
Matej Stransky
Cole Ully
Gemel Smith
Remi Elie
Caleb Herbert
Mike McMurtry
Curtis McKenzie
Adam Cracknell

Now, Texas could carry all 15 forwards (the AHL doesn’t have a roster limit). But, I would expect them to carry 14 this season so the 15th man is getting playing time in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads.

With that in mind, I could see the forward lines playing out like this on opening night in Texas:

Brendan Ranford-Travis Morin-Curtis McKenzie
Devin Shore-Justin Dowling-Adam Cracknell
Brandon DeFazio-Jason Dickinson-Matej Stransky
Remi Elie-Mike McMurtry-Denis Gurianov

This leaves Cole Ully, Gemel Smith, and Caleb Herbert as your healthy scratches on opening night. You could plug one of them in on that fourth line, but the top-nine players and Gurianov are lineup locks in my mind when healthy.

(A note on Gurianov: Be patient. He’s just a 19-year-old playing in the AHL. His first-round pick status guarantees him a spot in the lineup every night, but he has to earn a larger role with the coaching staff.)

Now let’s look at the defense, where Texas will have eight players with a legitimate shot of playing in the AHL this season. I would expect Texas to carry seven defenseman, since Brandon Anselmini was really signed as an AHL-depth/ECHL option.

So your blue line would look like this:

Mattias Backman-Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom-Nick Ebert
Andrew Bodnarchuk-Dustin Stevenson
Matt Mangene

Now we get to the goalies, where Texas will have Philippe Desrosiers, Landon Bow, Maxime Lagace, and Henri Kiviaho battling for two AHL jobs. Based on experience and from what I’ve seen in person, I’m expecting Lagace and Desrosiers to split time in Texas, while Bow and Kiviaho will likely be the tandem in Idaho.

For full effect, here is your potential opening night lineup for the Texas Stars when they host the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 14.

Brendan Ranford-Travis Morin-Curtis McKenzie
Devin Shore-Justin Dowling-Adam Cracknell
Brandon DeFazio-Jason Dickinson-Matej Stransky
Remi Elie-Mike McMurtry-Denis Gurianov

Mattias Backman-Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom-Nick Ebert
Andrew Bodnarchuk-Matt Mangene

Maxime Lagace
Philippe Desrosiers

Frankly, there isn’t much risk of losing Curtis McKenzie to a waiver claim — especially early in the season. Bottom-six forwards with 39 career NHL games don’t really move the needle with NHL general managers on the waiver wire.

If McKenzie has done enough to catch the attention of other general managers, that’ll likely mean he already earned one of the NHL roster spots with Dallas.

Went over this a little bit earlier in regards to making the NHL roster. So let’s look at it from a call-up perspective.

Whether they make the opening-night roster or not, I think Adam Cracknell, Brett Ritchie, and Curtis McKenzie are all going to play NHL games this season. You then have a group that consists of Justin Dowling, Brendan Ranford, Devin Shore, and Jason Dickinson all fighting for potential call-ups.

On defense, I don’t see any players getting a call-up this season. Carrying eight NHL defensemen will create a glass ceiling and keep Mattias Backman and Julius Honka in the AHL all season.

Devin Shore is headed to Traverse City this year because he is following the same recovery path Radek Faksa set during the 2015-16 season.

Shore suffered a very similar injury to Faksa, and the Czech center used Traverse City as extra time to test his strength and be better prepared for NHL training camp. Shore will be shaking off the rust, but based off his performance at development camp this summer he should be one of Dallas’ best players at the prospect tournament.

The Traverse City roster is often filled out with undrafted players from the junior ranks that the Stars may be keeping an eye on for the future. Most of these players still have junior eligibility remaining and will play at that level this season.

For many of these players it’s a chance to simply get noticed by NHL scouts — all 30 NHL teams typically have scouts at the Traverse City Tournament — and possibly lay the groundwork for a future opportunity.

If you look at Dallas’ roster for the tournament, several of the undrafted invitees are from the WHL. That’s simply a reflection of some of the strong relationships the Stars (and Texas Stars general manager Scott White) has with coaches in the WHL.