29-34-2-2, 62 pts
#15 Western Conference
30-31-2-5, 67 pts
#14 Western Conference
March 29th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
In a battle between the two worst teams in the conference, tonight's matchup has Texas fans both thinking of the past and yearning for the future.
For many fans, games against Hamilton harken back to Summer 2010 when Texas faced off against the Bulldogs in the Calder Cup Playoffs. That was a tough series for the Texas Stars, as they trailed 3-2 heading back to Hamilton. The Stars won both games six and seven in Ontario to face Hershey in the Finals.
When you look at the rosters of those two clubs, something stands out: the maturity of the prospect pipeline. Hamilton dressed the likes of David Desharnais, P.K. Subban, Ryan White, Aaron Palushaj, Ryan Russell, JT Wyman, Tom Pyatt, Yannick Weber, Mathieu Darche, and goalie Curtis Sanford. All ten of those players are now playing full-time or have played significant parts of 2011-12 in the NHL.
Meanwhile, Texas only sported two players now getting significant time in the NHL: Jamie Benn and Warren Peters (and Peters wasn't even supposed to be in that situation until the injury bug hit Minnesota).*
That first season, Texas's roster was bolstered by solid vet signings to make the team successful: Andrew Hutchinson, Dan Jancevski, and Garrett Stafford to name a few. Texas also needed those signings because the cupboard was dry. Hamilton was in a very different place with a fully stocked prospect system, brimming with legit NHLers honing their game and prepping to break into the Canadiens roster.
Texas is now looking at being on the precipice of beginning the same type segment in their short life as an AHL franchise. The ATOs that Texas has brought in over the past week are the future of the NHL club. Many more will follow next year including highly touted defensemen Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth.
By 2015, you will be able to do the same analysis with Texas's 2012-13 roster as we are doing today with Montreal and Hamilton. Meanwhile, Texas will reap the benefits as players who are expected to go to the NHL will be top AHL players as well. That development is the true purpose of the AHL club.
On the more traditional gameday note, Hamilton was in San Antonio last night. They lost 3-2. The Bulldogs have struggled on defense to put it mildly, with three players sporting a minus-20 or worse. Expect Jack Campbell in net and winger Alex Chiasson to make his pro debut.
* - We can't really count Richard Bachman since he didn't play in a playoff game. To be more pedantic about it, perhaps you can't count Jamie Benn either. We all know Texas fans always count Jamie Benn though, despite what Rockford, Hamilton and Chicago fans say.
Stars injury/call up report:
Schultz, Tousignant (injury)
Benn, Vincour (call up)