Monday, July 25, 2016

Vet Forward Brandon DeFazio Joins Texas Stars

The Texas Stars picked up a late free agent signing today with Brandon DeFazio joining the fold. The forward is a solid AHL journeyman who has racked up 359 games across four different teams. His playoff experience in Utica is notable as he went to the Calder Cup Finals with the Comets.

For what it's worth, the signing of DeFazio is probably partly connected to Justin Dowling's veteran status. In a bit of a silver lining, Justin Dowling's injury this season kept him under the 260 games and means that he does not qualify as a veteran this year. Therefore, the club can afford to sign another veteran toward the limit.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Monday the club has signed forward Brandon DeFazio to an AHL contract for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

DeFazio, 27, is set to begin his sixth full season in the AHL and has appeared in 359 career games between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Utica Comets and Providence Bruins. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward also brings 33 games of Calder Cup playoff experience to the Stars. DeFazio (deh-FAH-zee-oh) was a part of the 2014-15 Utica team that reached the Calder Cup Final before falling to the Manchester Monarchs in five games.

The Oakville, Ontario native tallied 43 points in each of the past two AHL seasons, and also reached the 20-goal mark in both of those campaigns. His 21 goals in 2014-15 led Utica during the regular season. Prior to his pro career, he was a four-year player at Clarkson University from 2007-2011.

DeFazio made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 9, 2014, in a 2-1 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Forward Austin Fyten Set to Join Texas Stars

Austin Fyten (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
According to his agent, forward Austin Fyten will be joining the Texas Stars for the 2016-17 season.

Fyten played two games for the Stars in his rookie season of 2012-13. Most of his time with the Dallas organization was spent with Idaho where he compiled 41 points in 46 games. The Steelheads retained his ECHL rights while he signed with Oklahoma in the AHL. He spent the majority of the season in OKC that year and in Lehigh Valley the next season.

Last year, he signed with Hershey but spent most of the year in the ECHL with South Carolina. He was a point-per-game players as the Stingrays went to the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals but lost to Allen.

The Texas Stars have not yet confirmed the signing.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Texas Stars Build Forward Depth, Add F Caleb Herbert

The Texas Stars continue to work on their depth at forward with today's signing of Caleb Herbert to an AHL deal. The forward split last season between Hershey and South Carolina, playing 26 for the Bears collecting two assists and 15 for the Stingrays with 14 points. As the Stingrays went deep in the playoffs, Herbert was a valuable contributor, notching 14 points in 27 games.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Dallas Stars, announced Thursday they have signed forward Caleb Herbert to an AHL contract for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

Herbert, 24, joins Texas after splitting last season between the AHL's Hershey Bears and the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays. The 6-foot, 200-pound forward tallied a pair of assists in 26 games with Hershey, and 14 points in 15 contests with South Carolina (10-4=14). In 2014-15, the Bloomington, Minn. native recorded two assists in 12 games with the Bears, and 28 points in 48 games with the Stingrays (19-9=28).

Herbert also helped lead the Stingrays' charge to the ECHL's 2015 Kelly Cup Final with 14 points in 27 playoff games before falling to the Allen Americans in seven games.

Prior to his professional career, Herbert competed for three seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth from 2011-2014, and also skated with the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers in 2010-11. He was a fifth-round pick of the Washington Capitals (142nd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Matej Stransky Signs for Another Season with Dallas

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars made official the signing of Matej Stransky today. It's a one-year, two-way deal. The right winger had a fantastic year last season and was qualified by the club. There was some question of if he would sign with Dallas for a likely role in the AHL or bolt for Europe. He decided to take his shot at the NHL with another year in Dallas.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed right wing Matej Stransky to a one-year, two-way contract.

Stransky, 23, registered 39 points (23-16=39) in 74 contests for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League in 2015-16. His 23 goals and eight power play goals both ranked second on Texas for the regular season. During the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, he recorded one assist (0-1=1) in four games.

In 209 career games for Texas, Stransky (STRAN-skee, MA-tay) has accumulated 81 points (39-42=81). In three trips to the Calder Cup Playoffs, he has amassed six points (1-5=6) in 27 games, winning the Calder Cup in 2014.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Ostrava, Czech Republic was originally selected by Dallas in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

AHL Announces Changes to Icing Timeouts, Fighting for Next Season

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The AHL Board of Governor's meetings concluded today and with them, the league announced many new rule changes for the coming season. The AHL has long served as a testing ground for new rules that may eventually find their way into the NHL. Some previous examples include the shootout, the trapezoid and hybrid icing.

This year, the AHL will try out new rules around fighting and icing. In addition, we mourn the loss of the dry scrape. Rest in peace, you waste of five minutes of my evening. The league will do the same cleaning procedure after regulation as they do for promotional timeouts. No zambonis.

Fighting changes
The league is looking to deincentivize fighting even more with the addition of several new rules. First, fights at the faceoff dots are going to earn an automatic game misconduct. This should reduce the number of staged fights we see in the league.

Further, as a player accumulates fights over the season, they will garner league suspensions for getting too many. From fights 10-13, each one will earn a player a one game suspension. For 14 and beyond, it will be two games.

Had those rules been in place last season, 22 AHL players would have been affected. As you might have guessed, none of those players were on the Texas Stars. Based on the way Texas plays hockey, you can expect that this rule won't affect their roster.

Icing changes
In a bid to further increase offense, the league will be removing the ability to use a timeout after an icing call. Coaches have long used their timeout as a way to get around the no-change nature of an icing call against them. Tired players will have to stay on the ice this season, which could lead to more goals.

Other items
Finally, the league will change up the uniform policy. Teams will wear light jerseys at home until the Christmas break and dark jerseys at home after the Christmas break. That will be a nice chance for the Texas Stars to show off their victory green uniforms.

Texas Stars Add F Mike McMurtry, D Brandon Anselmini to Ranks

Mike McMurtry (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have added two more players to their roster for the coming season, both rookies coming out of the NCAA collegiate system. The first, forward Mike McMurtry, is already familiar with Cedar Park. After his time at Northeastern, he finished up the season with Texas. The Canadian centerman got into five regular season games and three playoff contests as a fourth line center.

The Stars also added a rookie defenseman, Brandon Anselmini. The Ferris State product played finished last season with Orlando of the ECHL after a four-year career for the Bulldogs. Anselmini continues a strong tradition of Ferris State alumni on the Texas Stars roster. Greg Rallo, Cody Chupp and Cory Kane are among the former Bulldogs to lace them up for the Stars.

Both contracts are for the AHL only. McMurtry will probably find himself in Texas but on the margin based on some of the talent that is ahead of him. Depending on what sort of training camp Gemel Smith has, he could start the season centering the fourth line. Anselmini will have to fight his way into the Texas lineup with a full set of Dallas-contracted blue liners ahead of him.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Texas Stars Rounding Out Roster with Veterans

Vacation this past weekend got in the way of the timely reporting of these signings. Details below...

Texas got some help from the Dallas Stars over the holiday weekend in the form of free agent signings. A total of three deals that put bodies onto the Stars' roster were sealed up over.

First, the Stars signed a pair of defensemen. Andrew Bodnarchuk is coming in on a two-year deal and Dustin Stevenson on a single year contract. Bodnarchuk is an AHL staple who picked up significant time in the NHL last season with Columbus and Colorado. The Avalanche claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jackets in January and he spent the rest of the season with the Avs. He played on the fantastic Monarchs teams of 13-14 and 14-15, picking up a Cup win with the latter squad. He wore an A for that club as well. I think this is a signing that you see as hopefully better than the Evans signing last season. The deal really didn't work out for either side as Evans was only a part-time player. Bodnarchuk can play 70+ games and even be a reliable vet callup for the big club.

Stevenson played last season with the Stockton Heat and has a Kelly Cup to his name with Reading in 2013. He's 6'3 bruiser in the AHL and will probably draw 6/7 time in the A.

The biggest signing is the addition of Adam Cracknell. He's been in the NHL for the entirety of the last season, but Texas will probably be his home for this coming year. At $325,000 in the AHL, it looks like he's a veteran leadership piece that could see Greg Rallo on his way out of the Stars' plans. Cracknell is most familiar to Texas fans as a top-flight scorer and leadership forward on the Peoria Rivermen (09-13). He later jumped to the Chicago Wolves and Springfield Falcons in the AHL.