10.17.2010

Roster issues? Don't panic

So the Stars won in a shootout against the Blues last night, keeping their record a perfect 4-0-0 to start the season. A key note from that game is the fact that the Stars were able to not only beat the Blues (who destroyed us last year), but also came back from a poor start to push the game to a shootout, where we showed a superiority similar to the 05-06 season.
While the dynamic duo of Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow looked lost, and failed to score, the line of James Neal, Brad Richards, and Loui Eriksson was on fire. After the early collapse where everyone looked awful, the trio amped up their game and combined for the two actual goals that Dallas scored. Then in the shootout, Loui and Rich scored while Lehtonen had a few awesome saves.

And of course, Ribsy won the shootout.

However, this post is to point out the crowd that the Stars have up front. As of last night, the lines were:

Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Burish
Wandell - Ott - Petersen
Barch - Sutherby - Segal

Which all in all, isn't that bad. Wandell's been invisible lately, and Segal hasn't continued last year's rampage (hardly expected anyways), but aside from that, everything looks good.

But wait, Jamie Benn's about to come back from a concussion. What do we do now?
Benn's a top line scoring threat with some good physical play. Sounds like a Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn unit would fare pretty well. But where does small-things man Adam Burish, who's had solid chemistry with the Morrow line, end up? He could play the third line, but where would Toby Petersen/Tom Wandell go? Either one could go to the fourth line, but where would sparkplug Brian Sutherby, who plays his role perfectly, have to go? Surely not to the AHL. That's where we send players like Fabian Brunnstrom.

To make matters a little more confusing, we just called up Aaron Gagnon from the Texas Stars. He'll likely get to spend time as the 13th forward, but if he proves he can play in the big league, we'll have a real issue on our hands.

The solution? Well, there's two that I can think of.

Option A: Put Benn on the third line, try and create a third offensively dangerous trio. Lines would be:
Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Burish
Ott - Wandell/Petersen - Benn
Barch - Sutherby/Gagnon - Segal

It could either end up working perfectly, or end in disaster. I'd give it one game, depending on the outcome from that, keep it or go for...

Option B: Package a forward and a draft pick for a solid defenseman.
Most everyone in the hockey world agrees that the Stars are thin on defense. A top six of:

Grossman - Robidas
Niskanen - Daley
Fistric - Skrastins

Isn't exactly intimidating. And with Jeff Woywitka as the 7th D, and prospect Philip Larsen still about a year away, Dallas could do with a solid veteran.

An offer of a 2nd round pick plus Wandell or Sutherby wouldn't exactly get a superstar, but it could swing a good deal if Nieuwendyk plays his cards right.
Let's say a 2nd rounder plus Wandell gets us (example only) Cody Franson. Yeah yeah yeah it would never happen, whatever. That leaves Dallas with these lines:

Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Burish
Benn - Ott - Petersen
Barch - Sutherby - Segal

Franson - Robidas
Grossman - Skrastins
Fistric - Niskanen/Daley

That'd be quite the improvement.

Obviously, Dallas won't be able to wrangle away such a rising star as Franson, but if a deal can be made to get a top defender, I'd say do it. There's plenty of youth on the way to take the place of a forward anyways (Sceviour, Gagnon, Glennie, Backman).



By the way, I have respect for Kari Lehtonen now. The man can play goal.