An Only Slightly Too Early Lineup Preview for Friday

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

100 Degree Hockey doesn't do a ton of crystal ball type work, but let's pull out the Ouija board and some tarot cards and take a look at what the Texas Stars opening night lineup could look like across the board.


Fans who attended the Dallas Stars preseason game in Cedar Park may have received a significant preview of what to expect this season for Texas. Three of the four lines that night could simply be copy-pasted into the opening lineup for Texas. Let's do just that to set our first three lines and then wildly speculate about the fourth.

Matej Blumel-Mavrik Bourque-Logan Stankoven

This is what you paid the money to see. Future Dallas Stars tearing up the AHL. All three of these players were in the last batch of cuts. They scored, a lot, during the preseason. And were electric in their time in front of fans at the H-E-B Center last month. This line has a lot of expectations.

(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)

What will be interesting to watch is their level of rawness. Blumel and Bourque are second-year players, and Stankoven is a rookie. Stankoven played well defensively throughout the preseason, showing that he can be trusted at a high-level in the AHL right away. Of course, given his status as a blue chip prospect, he would have been put in those situations regardless.

It's possible this is one of the most productive lines Texas has had since 2013-14, and that's saying a lot.

Nick Caamano-Riley Damiani-Scott Reedy

Each of these forwards is on a one-year, two-way and looking for their chance to prove it with the organization. They'll all be restricted free agents again this coming summer. Nick Caamano is the longest tenured of the three, starting his sixth pro year with the organization. Damiani is not far behind starting his fourth year. Reedy also starts his fourth year pro, but this will be his first full season with Dallas after the trade from San Jose last season.

All three forwards have shown scoring prowess at different times in their careers. When combined, can they add up to more than the sum of their parts? Damiani, former Rookie of the Year, has only tied his RotY totals of 36 points and dropped to 31 last year, despite more games played. Reedy was Texas' best player for a spell after his trade. Caamano started last year hurt and took some time to round into form. The essential question for a line like this is if they can all click together at the same time.

(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)

Curtis McKenzie-Oskar Back-Antonio Stranges

McKenzie and Back formed two-thirds of the most consistent trio that Texas had last season. With the departure of Marian Studenic to Seattle, the wing must be filled. Enter Antonio Stranges, who spent the season last year between the AHL roster, a healthy scratch and a bit of time in Idaho. By the end of the season, Coach Neil Graham was regularly calling on "Tony" to dress as he earned his spot through strong practice work and the ability to contribute when in the lineup.

Stranges' speed can be a good analogue to what Studenic brought on the line and this could be again a very consistent trio for Texas.

Matthew Seminoff-Fredrik Karlstrom-Kyle McDonald

This is where we start to speculate more. The first thing to note is that Chase Wheatcroft would be making this list, but he is currently injured in Dallas. We can pencil him in on the wing somewhere once he's healthy. In the mean time, Fredrik Karlstrom centers this final line. I am calling it a final line because I think this team, in its fully healthy form, is probably a first line, two second lines and a third line. Lots of skill.

On the wings, I've selected Matthew Seminoff and Kyle McDonald for the time being. Keaton Mastrodonato, Franceso Arcuri and Ben Berard could all equally be in the mix here and may do a bit of a platoon rotation to Idaho in the meantime.


The defense is interesting because it's a pretty clearly bifurcated group. There are the veterans and there are the rookies. You could probably pick three vets and three rookies any given night. Here's an educated guess of where this lands. Note that Jerad Rosburg is still injured in Dallas.

Alex Petrovic-Lian Bichsel

The smooth-skating and lengthy Bichsel gets paired with the reliable "NHL prep team" in Alex Petrovic. The vet has a good track record now of sending players on to the next level, and Bichsel is the next candidate. Ryan Shea just made the opening roster in Pittsburgh, so there's your proof.

Bichsel is going to be fun to watch, period. He's 6'5 but doesn't skate like it. He impressed in NHL camp with many commenting that he will be an NHL option sooner rather than later. If so, it's a nice luxury to have that talent on the top line in Cedar Park for as long as they can keep him here.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

Gavin Bayreuther-Gavin White

These pairs could work out any way, but I couldn't resist putting two Gavins on the same pairing. Bayreuther came back to Dallas knowing that he would likely end up in Texas, telling 100 Degree Hockey that he'll be ready for his NHL chance whether it comes in Game 1 or Game 80. Now he has a chance to lead the tutelage of a younger D man.

White was a prospect who Texas GM Scott White (no relation) told me to circle when I did a recent freelance project on prospects for The Hockey News. He had some good moments in training camp in Cedar Park and the preseason.

Derrick Pouliot-Christian Kyrou
Michael Karow-Artem Grushnikov

Two reliable vets and two raw prospects. Last year's health of all parts of the roster was an exception, so there is no way that Karow stays in a 7 spot for long. Texas didn't sign him to a two-year deal to sit in the press box. I could also see Kyrou or Grushnikov going to Idaho for a time to get big minutes.


Remi Poirier
Matt Murray

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

Yes, the order there is intentional. Matt Murray will have every chance to be the organizational number three, but if Dallas had to pick right now who would sit the bench if Jake Oettinger or Scott Wedgewood were hurt, I would say it's Poirier. The team made him part of the last set of cuts and seems higher overall on his ceiling. 

Murray is coming out of college hockey and into his second pro year. He's 25 and may be approaching his ceiling as far as skills. Meanwhile, Poirier turned 22 last week and is already at the same level as Murray in the organization. The belief that the ceiling is higher is evident here.

Both play this weekend, but Poirier gets Friday night.


The Texas Stars sent Bryan Thomson and Ben Zloty to Idaho yesterday. Media day is today.