While the Dallas Stars are carrying eight defensemen for the second straight season, head coach Lindy Ruff is changing how he’s handling the extra depth on his roster, writes Mike Heika of the Dallas News. Through just four games, all eight blueliners have played in at least two of those contests, a stark contrast to last season where Ruff predominantly kept his top six the same from game to game. Ruff commented on the decision to cycle some of his defenders in and out of the lineup:
“I want to get everybody going. It’s not really based on play. I have eight defensemen I’ve used throughout the whole training camp. It will sort itself out. It’s not easy for the two guys who are coming out but at the same time that process usually works out where somebody will step up and really become a player that you don’t want to take him out. But I feel all of these guys can play, and I don’t want them sitting too long.”
Last season, the Stars kept waiver-eligible Jamie Oleksiak up with the team the entire season but only played him in 19 games, hardly an ideal situation. Fast forward to this year where the team is reportedly shopping him but his lack of playing time last season will certainly be a factor when it comes to any trade discussions. If their blueline corps stays healthy (which would be a stark contrast to their forward group), it will be interesting to see how long Ruff keeps his rotation going.
[Related: Stars Depth Chart]
Other notes out of Dallas:
- Right winger Ales Hemsky is close to returning from his groin injury and could make his season debut on Saturday, Heika reports in a separate column. The injury came about at last month’s World Cup of Hockey. Hemsky had 13 goals and 26 assists last season and will give an already deep forward group another offensive threat when he does return to the ice.
- Newcomer Adam Cracknell has been one of the early pleasant surprises for the Stars this season, notes Mark Stepneski on the team’s official site. He was brought in over the offseason to give them more depth up front and with the injuries the team has had to deal with, Cracknell has found himself receiving regular ice time. He has two goals and an assist in four games so far this season while spending time both at center and the wing. As players such as Hemsky start to return, Cracknell’s role will likely diminish but for the short-term at least, the 31 year old is giving them good value for a cap hit of only $600K.