An Empty Buc-ee's: Texas to Dallas Shuffle Yet to Start in 2023

(DALL-E's interpretation of the prompt "buc-ee's hockey players")

As the calendar rolls over the December, the Texas Stars find themselves in uncharted waters. It's not their position in the standings or anything having to do with the Xs and Os of the team. It's the transaction wire, or rather, the lack thereof.

No one has been recalled to Dallas yet this year.

In mid-November, Texas passed the previous mark for latest callup to Dallas in the season and continues to build on the record.  The previous latest was November 12, 2011; defenseman Philip Larsen was recalled after an injury to Alex Goligoski.

The chart above breaks down the particulars by season. Noting, of course, that the 2012-13 season was the NHL lockout and that the 2020-2021 season didn't start until February due to COVID, most first recalls happened in the month of October. There are two jumps into November, but they are rare. Some of these callups even came on the same day as the Stars' first game or immediately after.

There are a few factors at play here. The first one is a relatively healthy Dallas Stars roster. Usually, that's what makes for a callup. The Stars haven't needed a call yet for that reason.

Another factor is the maturity of this team. The Stars' hockey ops believe based on their performance last year that they are clearly in the Cup window and that the players they have on the roster are the players to get them to the end goal. There is relatively little room for a younger player (like Logan Stankoven or Mavrik Bourque) to break onto the roster with a commanding performance. It may seem perplexing, given their numbers in the AHL so far this year, but that is the Dallas roster philosophy right now.

Finally and perhaps most crucially, Dallas is in a cap crunch. The club has less open cap room than a standard league minimum contract. They couldn't call someone up if they wanted to without sending someone down or putting someone on LTIR.

How long will this current state of affairs continue? It's all random chance in many ways, but barring injury, there seems to be no way for anyone to sneak onto the Dallas roster from Texas this year. This is the group that Jim Nill and crew seem to want to start with in Game 1 of the playoffs.

And as an aside, we'll know more next week about the specifics of the Lian Bichsel situation, but in my opinion, this fact was probably some part of his decision to return to Europe.