The Stars will open a frenetic preseason schedule Monday by getting a look at several newcomers who should play roles in the NHL this season.
Coach Jim Montgomery's lineup will include free-agent signing Joe Pavelski at center, free agent signing Joel Kiviranta on Pavelski's wing, and veteran AHLer Denis Gurianov on Pavelski's other wing. Fans also will see 19-year-old Ty Dellandrea, who has a chance to make the opening night roster, as well as Plano native Stefan Noesen, who is in camp on a professional tryout contract.
And while 2019 first-round draft pick Thomas Harley will be able to show off his skating before he heads back to junior hockey, Montgomery also will keep an eye on the veteran checking line of Andrew Cogliano, Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau and the top defense pair of John Klingberg and Esa Lindell. So lots of juggling, but all with a plan.
"It's half assessment on players like Harley and Dellandrea and the players who have played well in Austin last year. And then it's also with the vets who do play, we want them playing with pace and purpose," Montgomery said. "You want them playing the right way so that when we start the season, it's just a natural progression.
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"Obviously, the intensity is going to ratchet up once the season starts, but we want the players playing with pace."
The Stars play at home against the Blues Monday, at Minnesota Tuesday, at Colorado Thursday, and against Florida at Tulsa Saturday. That's a lot of hockey, and a lot of players to get through, but the competition will be great for players who will have to play their best to make the NHL roster.
"That's what you want," said Stars GM Jim Nill. "You want players pushing each other."
Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin will split the game in net. That's so that neither of the veteran goalies will have to travel during preseason. Dallas plays at home against Minnesota and Colorado to end the preseason Sept. 26 and 28, and Bishop and Khudobin will likely get a lot of ice time in those two games.
What to watch
While seeing Pavelski for the first time will be nice, the real focus should probably be on the forwards who will be battling for a spot on the opening night roster.
Dallas has 11 forward spots spoken for (10 of Corey Perry isn't ready), and that means players like Gurianov, Noesen, Kiviranta and Dellandrea have an opening.
Gurianov is an AHL veteran who has spent a great deal of camp playing on a line with Pavelski and Jamie Benn, so he's definitely in the mix. Noesen is an NHL veteran who is trying to earn a contract, Kiviranta is a 23-year-old Finnish veteran who will likely bounce back and force between the NHL and AHL, and Dellandrea is a first-round draft pick who looked very good in Traverse City.
Those are probably the key players to watch Monday.
By the numbers
The Stars' penalty kill ranked fifth in the NHL last season at 82.8 percent. Blake Comeau (2:05) and Radek Faksa (1:37) were the top two forwards in shorthanded time on ice, while Esa Lindell (3:14) and Roman Polak (2:38) led Dallas defensemen. All four will be in the game tonight.
Ben Bishop grew up in St. Louis. He is 6-6-1 in his career during the regular season against the Blues with a 2.12 GAA and .926 save percentage.
Jason Robertson led the Ontario Hockey League with 117 points in 62 games last season. However, he had just one goal in four games during the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich. last week, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in an NHL exhibition game.
He said it
"I see a more confident person as far as playing with Jamie and Pavs. He's just the same skillset and power, and the ability is there. Now it's got to transfer to the games, and we're excited to see what he can add to our lineup on a nightly basis." -- Stars coach Jim Montgomery on Denis Gurianov in training camp.
Projected Stars lineup
Joel Kiviranta - Joe Pavelski - Denis Guriuanov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Riley Tufte - Ty Dellandrea - Stefan Noesen
Nick Caamano - Rhett Gardner - Jason Robertson
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Thomas Harley - Roman Polak
Emil Djuse - Dawson Barteaux
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.