It’s a loaded mailbag this week. Let’s get started:
@seanshapiro Do you see Nemeth and Oleksiak with the Stars come next season? Feels like one will be traded and one will be expansion drafted
— Johnson, Zach (@zachj10) January 5, 2017
Patrik Nemeth may have already played his last game for the Dallas Stars. Nemeth has been solidified as the eighth defensemen and he’s probably also behind Julius Honka on the depth chart. Right or wrong, if an injury were to occur Honka would likely be called up and would be in the lineup before Nemeth.
So, no, I don’t think Nemeth will be with the Stars next season. I think a trade will happen sooner than later this season.
Jamie Oleksiak is harder to figure out, but my guys says he’ll be back with Dallas next season. He’s a pending restricted free agent and the Stars will sign him and likely leave him unprotected in the expansion draft.
However, I don’t think the Vegas Golden Knights are going to be interested in Oleksiak. Antoine Roussel and Brett Ritchie will look like more attractive options to Vegas general manager George McPhee, especially with the other defensemen that will be available from other teams.
@seanshapiro Despite both goalies playing well this season, why do fans constantly want to trade for a replacement?
— Kamen Kessler (@KamenKessler) January 5, 2017
Because of the playoff track record.
Kari Lehtonen had a big-game opportunity in Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues last season and dropped the ball. Antti Niemi hasn’t been good in the postseason since the 2012-13 season.
Right now the Stars goalies aren’t the problem, far from it. But there is a concern within the fanbase that neither of these goalies have the ability to win four rounds in the playoffs.
That may be true. However at this moment, the Stars don’t have the team that’s good enough to think about winning four rounds in the playoffs.
@seanshapiro how did Stephen Johns go from wonder boy to constant dog house overnight? Ruff had some venom about the delay of game last nt
— Hunter Johnson (@HunterDJohnson) January 5, 2017
You could say the Stars have mishandled the Stephen Johns situation after he suffered a minor lower-body injury on Dec. 20 against the St. Louis Blues.
Johns was only unavailable for one game, but since the Stars pieced together a three-game win streak they didn’t make any lineup changes on defense and the right-handed defenseman was a healthy scratch. Then in his first game back, which came two weeks later, he made a key mistake and it looks like he may be benched because of it.
This isn’t how you’re supposed to handle a young defenseman that is supposedly part of the future of your franchise. If Johns is going to be out of the lineup he needs to be playing with the Texas Stars in the AHL and gaining confidence. He’s waiver exempt still, and could have played with the Texas Stars on Dec. 29 and 31 instead of sitting in an NHL press box.
The Stars also need to give him an opportunity to grow and play through mistakes. Now egregious errors obviously need to be addressed, but Johns shouldn’t be punished — and likely benched — for one delay of game penalty when his larger body of work has outweighed the negatives. You address the mistake, but there is a difference between coaching to fix a situation and creating an environment were a player is walking on eggshells.
@seanshapiro í don’t believe klingberg woes are due to lack of 33. I think he shined last year because of our offense. Thoughts?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) January 5, 2017
John Klingberg has gotten better recently, in fact the entire defensive core has been rather good for the past dozen games.
Offense is still the bigger issue during the 2016-17 season, and that helped mask many problems during the 2015-16 season. With more goals going in the other team’s net, there was less of a microscope on each turnover and missed defensive assignment. This season each tiny detail is nitpicked, because the Stars aren’t making us forget the mistakes with goals on the other end.
Early on I think losing Alex Goligoski hurt Klingberg. But, since he and Esa Lindell have been paired together consistently they’ve played well and been a nice pairing — one that I would continue to rely on in the future.
@seanshapiro Can you solve the Guryanov/Gurianov spelling mystery?
— Jim Byers (@jim_the_lip) January 5, 2017
From what I understand, Denis Gurianov is the spelling on his contract and his passport. Thus that’s his name on the NHL roster and how I will refer to him.
@seanshapiro many fans want a goalie trade but how far away are Legacé or Desrosiers from being NHL-ready? Are they good enough 2y from now?
— Tobias Vallgren (@Tobajjass) January 5, 2017
Neither Stars goalie prospect is ready for the NHL, and I don’t think either will be ready in two years.
Philippe Desrosiers is still a long-term project and has taken a step back this season. I watched him play in the ECHL before Christmas and he struggled mightily. Maxime Lagace has that “it” factor on some nights, like he did during the NHL preseason, but he’s not nearly consistent enough to be trusted as a future NHL option right now.
We need to see much more out of both goalies.
Before the season started I suggested the Stars sign a veteran third goalie like Michael Leighton. A player that would have been an AHL veteran, but could be trusted to play in the NHL in case of an injury. Right now I wouldn’t trust either goalie to play an NHL game if they were forced in because of injury.
@seanshapiro any ideas why Emelin’s hit on Roussell was not called and no disciplinary action taken by the league? Yet Oleksaiks was???
— Kristen Reinhard (@KristenRenee) January 5, 2017
I don’t have any idea.
@seanshapiro what do you see as shore, Richie and faksa ceilings? 20 goal scorers one day? Can any become an elite player one day?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) January 5, 2017
Depends on your definition of elite.
Radek Faksa can become an elite defensive center. He may only score 10 to 15 goals a season, but he’ll be elite at face-offs on the penalty kill and shutting down the opposition.
Brett Ritchie could be a 20-goal scorer this season if he goes on a hot streak at some point in the second half. Ritchie is a very streaky scorer, but he has the size and shot to be a potential 25-goal scorer.
Devin Shore projects out more to me as a depth center with some scoring punch. He’s never going to be a guy that will lead your offense, but he’ll provide the occasional depth scoring that a team needs.
@seanshapiro in five words or less how do you fix the Overtime problem.
— Austin Cobb (@aacobb) January 5, 2017
Cover your man. Score more.
@seanshapiro Which current Cedar Park players could we see in the NHL permanently next season?
— Johnson, Zach (@zachj10) January 6, 2017
Julius Honka, for sure. Jason Dickinson if he can hit the level he was playing at last season and fully shake off the off-season hip surgery.
@seanshapiro Any chance we ever get to see Oleksiak and Johns in the lineup together?
— DallasSportsFan (@TheCrafty71) January 6, 2017
I’d like to see it, but I don’t think it’ll happen without an injury. They seem to be yo-yoed for each other in and out of the lineup.
@seanshapiro mbag. What kind of record Stars need in 2nd half & point total for playoff spot?
— BobSchaller (@BobSchaller) January 6, 2017
If they take 2 out of 3 points for the rest of the season they’ll be a playoff team. They just did that during a nine-game stretch, grabbing 12 of 18 potential points. The Stars have 86 potential points remaining, if they grab two-thirds of that total (57 points) they’ll finish the year with 97 points.
Last season the Minnesota Wild were the final team in the Western Conference playoffs with 86 points. I think the second wild card team will have closer to 93 this season.