STARS MAILBAG: Prospects and roster depth. Presented by Pro Stock Hockey

I need to make a slight modification to last week’s mailbag.

Last week we discussed the Dallas Stars potential lineup if the team were to play baseball. And in that lineup I had Stephen Johns playing right field and hitting cleanup.

After posting that lineup I was informed that Stephen Johns actually played center field growing up. So with that in mind I’m switching him to his natural position and putting Adam Cracknell in right field.

In another house keeping note, the Stars individual player previews will resume on Sunday for subscribers. The next two weeks are already mapped out, and there will be profiles on Curtis McKenzie, Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa, Antoine Rossel, Mattias Janmark, and Jason Spezza during that time frame.

And hey look, we’ve got a sponsor this week. Looking for authentic equipment made for the pros? Pro Stock Hockey has a huge inventory of sticks, pads, gloves… really anything you need. That includes several sticks and pants that used to reside in the Stars equipment room.

And with that let’s get to the mailbag, brought to you this week by Pro Stock Hockey.

European players drafted after the second round tend to generate less public buzz. That’s the case with Jacob Stenqvist and Fredrik Karlstrom, who have been playing well back in Sweden but relatively out of the public eye.

Personally, I have Karlstrom amongst the Stars top-15 prospects. In my July prospect rankings I had him listed as an honorable mention after the top-10 and he’d likely be 10th on my list if I didn’t consider Val Nichushkin a prospect.

Karlstrom has been very good this week for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth. He’s very good with the puck on his stick, and I like how he creates opportunities for his teammates.

Stenqvist isn’t as high on my list, but he’s got long-term potential as a low-risk, high-reward sixth-round pick. He moves the puck well and has high offensive potential, but you’d like to see better numbers and he needs to improve in the defensive end.

Touched on Karlstrom a bit in the prior question, so let’s focus on Riley Tufte.

Tufte, in my opinion, should be a member of the American team this coming December and January in Buffalo. He’s been good in camp the WJSS and I think he’s poised for a breakout sophomore season with Minnesota-Duluth.

I can see the argument for HIFK (he’s only 18, stay home in his comfort zone), but I would have Miro Heiskanen playing in the AHL this season.

The ultimate plan is for him to play and thrive in the NHL, so having him adjust to the North American game right away — even with some struggles — would be worthwhile.

The World Junior Summer Showcase is more of an evaluation camp. Heiskanen is a known commodity in Finland and I would expect him to be on the Finnish roster at the World Junior Championships in December.

If you haven’t given it a read, check out the piece I had on Wednesday in Yahoo Sports for a Stars alternate history where they drafted Henrik Lundqvist.

I had seriously considered looking at “what if” situation surrounding the Jarome Iginla for Joe Nieuwendyk trade. The Calgary Flames had initially asked for Todd Harvey in the trade, so there’s an alternate NHL timeline out there where Iginla is indeed a member of the Dallas Stars.

It’s a benefit if the Stars deal with injuries, which I believe was Jim Nill’s thinking after seeing the number of ailments last season.

It’s also somewhat necessary with the unknown factors surrounding Mattias Janmark. While Janmark’s knee has progressed well so far, it’s impossible to predict the future with his genetic disorder and the Stars need to have a contingency plan in place if he runs into issues at any point during the season.

Mike McKenna is the third-string goalie. If Ben Bishop were to get hurt McKenna would back-up Kari Lehtonen, who is still a more-than-serviceable NHL goalie, so it shouldn’t derail the season.

Lehtonen’s biggest issues have come in big moments, so hopefully Bishop wouldn’t be in a spot where he’d have to miss time in the postseason.

Connor McDavid and I would be willing to part with any player on the Stars roster in that trade.

(I know this is impossible).

It’s possible, but unlikely.

Winning the Art Ross is likely going to take at least 95 points this coming season (McDavid had 100 last season). Benn’s career-high is 89, Seguin’s is 84, I would project each of them closer to 80 or 85 points next season.

Tyler Seguin’s next contract will likely be in the eight-year, $10-million range. The Stars will likely want to sign him to a $9.5-million cap hit to match Jamie Benn’s new contract that kicked in this season.

Do-it-all forward that can play on any line. Like a more versatile Patrick Eaves, who Dallas used on all four lines before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks.

This is just a hunch, but I think it would be a relocation. If a current NHL team were to run into arena issues and needed a quick relocation, Houston would have the arena and infrastructure in place for a quick transition.

On another Houston note, I wonder whether the Stars would want an NHL team in Houston.

On one hand it would be a nice geographic rival and would help grow the game across the state.

On the other hand, the Stars like being the team of Texas. They like the fact that they have a television reach with Fox Sports Southwest that extends into five NBA markets (Dallas, Oklahoma City, Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans).

The Stars have been pretty open about wanting an AHL team in Houston, it would just make sense with Texas and San Antonio. But there might be a reason we haven’t seen any public comments about having another NHL team in Texas.

They were announced back in June. They are Stu Barnes, Rick Wilson, and Curt Fraser. You can read more about their roles here.

Offensively? Alexander Radulov. Overall? It’s Martin Hanzal right now, but it could be Radek Faksa by the end of this season.

All coaches shuffle lines, but I do expect more consistency with Ken Hitchcock.

There isn’t really a set definition, but in general when we refer to Hockey IQ we are talking about natural understanding of the game.

This can cover a couple facets — positioning, stick work, passing, etc…. — so in general high Hockey IQ is a blanket statement for a player that thinks the game at a higher level.

I have not spoken with Jason Spezza since the Martin Hanzal acquisition, but I imagine he’ll be cordial and publicly he’ll be accepting of playing the wing. How he reacts behind the scenes and how he adjusts on the ice is another story — hopefully it’s a positive one

Tyler Seguin is not going to the wing. Ken Hitchcock has made it clear he wants to turn Seguin into a No. 1 center.

Hanzal has never played wing in his career and he said part of the reason he chose Dallas was the role they envisioned for him — as a top-six center that plays big minutes.

In a simple plug-and-play video game world it works great. Spezza can just move to wing, and Hanzal can play center. Who takes the face-off shouldn’t matter, and Spezza could have more of the center role from the red line forward, while Hanzal could be the center from the red line back.

In reality it doesn’t work like that, at least not right away. There are egos that have to be managed and it’s going to take one player — either Hanzal or Spezza — sacrificing their desired official position for the betterment of the team.

The Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have found a formula and won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Can the Stars find a similar balance this season? We will see.

Justin Dowling is a lock to be an alternate captain in Texas. In fact, he could be the future captain in Texas if he is still with organization when Travis Morin moves on.

The NHL and AHL team will have similar systems, but the Stars will allow the AHL coaches to add their own slight modifications depending on personnel.

Ken Hitchcock told me the most important thinkg is the terminology. He wants Derek Laxdal and Karl Taylor using the same terminology in Cedar Park as the NHL team is using in Dallas. That way when a player is called up there aren’t any confusions when it comes to communication.

That’s not my news to initially report. If there are any updates I think they should come directly from Dave first.

You’ve got a real nice idea going here and it sounds fun.

Let’s add a slight modification and I’m on board.

Host it in the summer and make it a prospect showcase in the middle of July — right after development camps are typically wrapping up. Would it be gimmicky? Yes. But we could all use more hockey to watch in the summer.

Covered this last week. There won’t be any news on Janmark until the season. He’s skating and looking fine in that capacity, but the true test won’t be here until training camp.

Depends on what Antoine Roussel wants to do and how this season goes. I’m sure the Stars would like to keep him, but he could earn a bigger paycheck by testing the market next summer as an unrestricted free agent.

I believe you are talking about the jerseys that a couple kids were wearing when the Stars announced the draft. Those are uniforms for a local travel hockey team, so don’t think there is anything to read into on that jersey front.

You should ask Scott that. In the meantime you should check out the Stars podcast I record with Ryan Satkowiak.

As far as I know, it’s the only weekly Stars podcast during the season and we will be back to a weekly schedule starting in September. We are also looking at options to record twice per week.

More power to you if you can confidently wear jorts.

I’m a big fan of breakfast tacos. Let’s go with eggs, potatoes, brisket, and tomatillo sauce. It’s simple, but delicious if well done.


Mint Chocolate Chip.

Because life is about patience.

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