Dallas Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky are on schedule as they recover from offseason hip surgery, general manager Jim Nill said Monday, and in a best-case scenario they might return to action by the end of the preseason.
"We're going to monitor them," Nill told Stars Inside Edge. "They are feeling very well, and they are starting to do full practices. They will practice down there [in Cedar Park, where training camp will take place], and we'll play it by ear as far as scrimmages and exhibition games. Very doubtful they'll play the first four or five exhibition games."
Benn, 26, is the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner. He scored 87 points last season on 35 goals and 52 assists, finishing the season on a tear with 12 goals and 23 points in his final 12 games. He had a hat trick as part of a four-point game against the Nashville Predators in the season finale to win the scoring title.
Benn exceeded previous career-highs of 34 goals and 79 points set during the 2013-14 season. He has 151 goals and 359 points in 426 games for the Stars, who selected him in the fifth round (No. 129) of the 2007 NHL Draft.
Hemsky, 32, had 11 goals and 32 points in his first season with the Stars. The 13th pick in the 2001 draft by the Edmonton Oilers, he has 157 goals and 526 points in 748 games for the Oilers, Ottawa Senators and Stars.
"We are going to play it by ear," said Nill, who is evaluating his prospects at the Traverse City Tournament this week. "We've gone this far, it's a long year, and we are going to make sure they are 100 percent before they play."
Nill also provided updates on forwards Valeri Nichushkin and Brett Ritchie.
Nichushkin, who enters his third NHL season, played two games in October and two games in November last season before he was sidelined with pain in his hip and groin. He had surgery Nov. 18 and was out for five months. He returned for four games in April and finished the season with one assist in eight games.
"Val is healthy and ready to go," Nill said. "He ended up playing the last three games of the year for us [in 2014-15] and he's had all summer to train. I've been watching him skate in Dallas and he's ready to go. He's going to be a big part of our team. We lost Val for the whole year last year and that hurt. It's a big year for him to get back, we need him. He's a big part of the top six of our team so we're looking forward to it."
Nichushkin had 14 goals, 34 points and a plus-20 rating in 79 games as a rookie with the Stars in 2013-14, helping the team qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ritchie had surgery to repair a ligament in his wrist and is now on the road to recovery. Nill said. Ritchie, a second-round pick (No. 44) in 2011, will be sidelined 3-4 months.
"He's going to go back and see the doctors in two weeks," Nill said. "They'll change the cast and then kind of make the determination from there. He'll probably be able to skate in about a month or so. He's worked hard all summer to get in shape and wants to maintain that.
"We're going to bring him to training camp towards the end of camp and take a look at him, get him settled and start his rehabilitation."
Ritchie, 22, sustained the wrist injury while shooting pucks and doctors determined that fixing the ligament at this time was the better option. Ritchie had 14 goals and 21 points in 33 games with the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League last season. He also played 31 games with Dallas, scoring six goals and nine points.
Staff writer Mike G. Morreale contributed to this report