Friday, September 14, 2018

Dallas Stars Training Camp Kicks Off in Boise with Many Texas Stars Storylines to Track

The wheels are down in Boise, Idaho as the Dallas Stars organization is set to kick off training camp on Thursday at 11:00 AM CDT for the first time ever in the Pacific Northwest. Camp will conclude on Sunday the 16th with an intrasquad scrimmage. In regards to the Texas Stars, here are some interesting storylines to follow pertaining to each position group.

Forward Roope Hintz can speed up his career trajectory with a strong camp.
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Forwards

Good news for Texas Stars fans: the AHL club is shaping up to be good on paper, and it starts with the talented forward group. The logjam in the bottom six at the NHL level might not be ideal for organizational health in the long term, but it provides some intriguing options for a top six that can do some major damage in Cedar Park.

The Texas Stars are all but assured to end up with an NHL caliber forward to soak up top six minutes. It’s only a matter of whom. With center Martin Hanzal recovering from spinal surgery and only Devin Shore likely locked in for fourth line duty with the parent club, there are four contenders for two spots on that line: Jason Dickinson, Remi Elie, Gemel Smith, and Roope Hintz. Dallas’ new head coach Jim Montgomery will conduct his first camp without any sense of loyalty or expectation as to where these players should be slotted. Dickinson is as overripe of a prospect as they come and has the inside track for one spot either at center or wing.

Following a strong showing in the Traverse City tournament, Hintz has a solid chance of upsetting the balance and earning full time NHL duty. The safest course of action, in my opinion, is for him to spend another season adding to his game in the AHL, much to the chagrin of some Stars fans. Look at it this way: Hintz is much better served soaking up top minutes in Cedar Park than spending time in the press box as a thirteenth forward in Dallas. The offseason addition of Blake Comeau to the bottom six ensured that a player like Hintz could be relegated to that possibility should he struggle in the NHL.

Hintz has a higher ceiling as a prospect than either Dickinson or Shore, but Dallas will be better in the interim with either of those players subbing for Hanzal. Meanwhile, the AHL club would obviously benefit from a dominant season from Hintz. I prefer that to be the case, but there is room for disagreement.

If and when Hanzal returns to the ice, bottom six minutes will be even more scarce to go around. Depending on who Dallas wants to utilize as a thirteenth forward there is a really good chance that Gemel Smith winds up in Cedar Park this season, provided he clears waivers. Though Smith won’t be tickled by the idea, Texas Stars fans would welcome an established forward to help offset some of the top players Texas lost to free agency. Should Smith be demoted, he would provide a nice call up option for the parent club.

No matter how it all shakes out, the Texas roster will come out of this camp sitting pretty in the forward department, which is a different tune than expected considering they lost some important players. Strong play in the Traverse City tournament from Nick Caamano, Adam Mascherin, and Tony Calderone should translate to a good camp for all. These, along with previously mentioned players, will form a forward group to get excited about.

Defensemen

The curious signing of veteran defenseman Roman Polak during the offseason sends mixed signals about what the Stars think of Dillon Heatherington. He would’ve provided a cheaper and perhaps more effective option as a seventh defenseman in Dallas. Is there anything that he can do in camp to force the Stars’ hand to clear up space amongst the defense corps? If not, Texas will gladly take him as one of their top defensemen.

After Heatherington, the most intriguing question is where Chris Martenet fits into the shuffle. The left-handed Indiana native only put up five points over 52 games in Idaho last season but possesses an interesting mix of size (6’7”) and skill. The coaching staff was unable to give the prospect blue liner a good look in last year’s camp as he was dealing with a case of mono for a considerable period. With all that behind him, Martenet will have a good chance as anyone to slot into a crowded defense corps in Cedar Park.

The ink is still wet on a three-year entry level contract for Ben Gleason, who turned in an eye-catching tournament. Suddenly, there aren’t as many seats to sit in and the music stops after training camp. The obvious hole in the defense corps is the dearth of right-handed shots, a common issue among several clubs. Can former sixth round pick Jakob Stenqvist show enough in camp to force the Stars brass to make a tough decision? The Swedish prospect notched a couple of points in Traverse City and saw some time on the power play. That should be enough to provoke Jim Nill and company to think long and hard about Stenqvist’s potential in Cedar Park versus heading back to Europe.

Goaltenders

Rookie goaltender Colton Point had an up and down tournament in Traverse City and is looking to further establish himself as a starter with the Texas Stars. Point is pencilled in at the AHL level this season, so the biggest question mark is Philippe Desrosiers. He should be in the AHL at this point in his career based on when he came out of juniors and his draft positioning, but he keeps getting jumped by others on the depth chart. First, it was Landon Bow and now it appears to be Colton Point. This year is the last chance for Desrosiers. If he’s going to be in the Dallas system long-term, then he has to make the AHL team call him up and use him. That starts this week with a strong showing in camp.

2 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, I doubt Smith would clear waivers. He's not a world beater, but I could see a few of the lesser NHL teams picking him up.

    ReplyDelete

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