The Dallas Stars were one of two teams that had raised their roster numbers over the regular allowable limit during the holiday roster freeze, and needed to make a move today to get back under the 23-man threshold. Instead, they made several moves. Martin Hanzal and Jason Dickinson have both been placed on injured reserve with back injuries, while Connor Carrick was activated. Gavin Bayreuther, the odd man out on defense, has been sent back to the minor leagues.
The most notable transaction here is Hanzal, who only returned to the lineup for the first time this season three weeks ago. Back injuries have already stolen huge chunks of Hanzal’s career, and are clearly a chronic issue that will not go away entirely. That’s frightening for the Stars, who invested $14.25MM on a three-year deal in the big center in the summer of 2017 and have only received 45 games of mostly ineffective play. During his time in Dallas, Hanzal has only recorded 12 points while registering horrendous possession numbers and a -18 rating. That’s a terrible performance for a player carrying a $4.75MM cap hit, especially one who previously in his career was considered a potential Selke winner as a shutdown center.
Though Hanzal’s injury may never truly go away, Dickinson’s has been given a three to four week timeline according to Mark Stepneski of NHL.com. It’s terrible timing for a young player who was starting to establish himself as an everyday option, as Dickinson has 11 points in 34 games this season. The 23-year old was a first-round pick five years ago, but has had trouble shedding the minor league status and earning himself a real opportunity with the Stars. Now he’ll have to fight through injury to get back and not lose his latest chance.