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Hey Heika: Will Robertson be in mix to make Stars' roster?

From prospects to predictions,'s Mike Heika answers Twitter questions from fans in his latest mailbag

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Howdy folks, it's getting close to hockey time, so let's tackle some of the key questions here in another offering of Hey Heika.

You asked these questions on Twitter, and I'm answering them here. Let's have fun out there.


Do you own any notable Stars memorabilia? -- @WhyteThunder

Mike Heika: I actually don't. I have obtained signed sweaters and hats for charity auctions, but my own collection is pretty thin. The one stick I keep in my office is one the Stars gave me after I fell off the roof and broke my arm several years back. Mike Modano and Marty Turco each signed it, with Modano writing: "Stay off the roof, Clark," and Turco writing: "Hope you had a good trip."

Good dudes.


Hypothetical situation: Let's say Ty Dellandrea blows everyone away and plays more than 9 games, burning a year of his ELC. If he followed a track like Roope and needed to be sent down for conditioning, would he then be able to play in the AHL, or be forced back to OHL? -- @Tsudbury

Heika: The rules are that Dellandrea plays either in the NHL or the OHL this upcoming season. Because those are the rules, the Stars will likely act accordingly. If they keep him past 10 games, they will likely keep him all year in the NHL even though they are allowed to send him back to the OHL at any point. If they think he needs more work, they will send him back after nine games. Once Dellandrea plays 10 games, he will burn the first year on his three-year rookie contract, so they will weigh that heavily in their decision. If he's burning that first year, they want him to be able to play in the NHL on a fairly regular basis.

Video: Behind the scenes of the Stars first-round pick


Who's jersey should I buy today since every time I get one the player gets traded or injured? -- @MikeDurby

Heika: Knowing your history, I would go with Martin Hanzal.

: )

I honestly think you can't go wrong with a core player. Heiskanen, Klingberg, Benn, Seguin, Radulov are all players I think are going to be here for a while. But I always encourage friends to get the player they like and identify with. My wife has an Ed Belfour sweater, my daughter has Miro Heiskanen's. You are wearing the player's name on your back. You should want to represent. I always enjoy seeing a Lindell or Faksa jersey, so I encourage you to find the player who fits your style.


What's the chances of Stephen Johns playing to start the season? -- @smuckazzz

Heika: It's a bit of a mystery right now. He worked out some during prospect camp, but has not really been seen since. We'll know more when camp starts.

It's a tough situation with any head injury, and I know the Stars want to be very careful.


What should we be looking for from Riley Tufte at the prospects tournament in Traverse City? -- @1FortyOne

Heika: I kind of see this whole season as a fresh start for Riley Tufte. After getting taken 25th overall in 2016, he had two solid seasons at Minnesota-Duluth, helping the Bulldogs win the NCAA championship and tallying 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) in 42 games as a sophomore. Last year as a junior, Duluth won the NCAA title again, but Tufte's role was reduced and his scoring decreased to 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists). The guess is he still is trying to find his way, and he'll have both good support and good competition from his teammates in the AHL.

I think he is one of the players the organization is going to be very patient with.

Video: Riley Tufte spends time with Stars' summer campers


Do you think the Stars vs. Preds "rivalry" is shaping up to be one for a while or should I continue my ill will towards Detroit? -- @TaylorMylar

Heika: I like where the Nashville rivalry is heading. The cities seem very similar and the two teams will likely be battling for first place in the Central and possibly going head-to-head in the playoffs again. Mix in the Winter Classic, and you have some big moments in the upcoming season.

While Detroit was a great rival in the past, it's tough to have a real rival playing in the Eastern Conference.


What player or position (if any) would you like to see the Stars add via mid-season trade? -- @james_hardi

Heika: My guess is if Stephen Johns is not healthy or if there are injuries on defense, the Stars would use their available injury-relief cap space to acquire a defenseman. I would suggest studying the D-men who are eligible to become UFAs in 2020 and see which ones are on teams that might not make the playoffs. That's how Dallas got Mats Zuccarello last season.

If the Stars can upgrade their defense around the trade deadline, I think they would look at that. The only other acquisitions would be caused by injuries, I believe. I think they like the roster quite a bit right now.


Which of the following make the Stars opening day roster? Gurianov, Dowling, Robertson, L'Esperance, Dellandrea, Mascherin, or other? Of those that don't make it, who are the first call-ups? -- @HighWide1975

Heika: I really like the situation the Stars are in right now, as they have 11 forwards who seem to be locks to make the opening-night roster. That means there are as many as three spots available, and a host of good, young players who could fill those spots.

I get the feeling they would really like to give Ty Dellandrea the nine-game tryout before making a decision whether they need to send him back to juniors or not, so I would include him in the group that is here for opening night. That said, he has to earn that opportunity with strong performances in Traverse City and in the preseason.

After that, it's a great mix of different skills. I would think players like Denis Gurianov, Justin Dowling, Joel L'Esperance and Joel Kiviranta have a leg up because of their experience, but I am fascinated by the offensive upside of Jason Robertson (48 goals, 69 assists, 117 points in 62 games) and Tye Felhaber (59 goals, 50 assists, 109 points in 68 games), who finished first and third in OHL scoring last season. It's a big jump, but those are big numbers.

I really like the fact the Stars have young forwards who don't require waivers. I see a situation where some of these players can do what Roope Hintz did last season, try the NHL, go back to the AHL, and then come back to the NHL. I just see a good situation where a lot of young players will be rotating in and out in those final forward spots.

Video: DAL@CHI: L'Esperance nets PPG off Seguin's feed


How long until the Stars release the Traverse City roster and do you have any idea how exciting the roster will be? How many good prospects will be there? Will it be a good Stars roster? -- @s3rp86

Heika: They released it right after you asked, so you must have some super power.

I like the roster. I think they have two good goalies in Jake Oettinger and Colton Point, which is key when you are alternating goalies and one loss can cost you a chance at the championship.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing Robertson, Dellandrea and Felhaber, and I think they have some other talented forwards in that group. On defense, I look forward to seeing Ben Gleason, Emil Djuse and Thomas Harley. I think this really could be one of the best rosters the Stars have sent to this tournament.


As a Stars fan, what should I be most excited about? Most worried about? What is this team's realistic floor and ceiling? -- @WesALawrence

Heika: I think the biggest thing to be excited about is the fact Jim Montgomery is in his second season and he has added good friend John Stevens to the coaching staff. Montgomery seems like a confident, take-charge kind of guy, and he couldn't really do that last season. He had to wade in and learn. I think he will be more aggressive and demanding this season, and I think that's a good thing.

The one thing that would worry me is health. An injury to Ben Bishop or Tyler Seguin or John Klingberg would be tough to overcome. While I think the depth is improved, this still is an older team and injuries still could be a big factor.

My guess is that this will be a good regular season team. I think it will finish in the top three in the Central Division and make the playoffs. Once there, anything can happen. I look at the Blues last season and how close the Stars came to beating the Blues, and I think Dallas could have won the Stanley Cup last year. So I think they need to embrace that and play to win it this year.


Pavs at wing? His 2-way game as a C would be a liability. Line/pairing projections? Why not play Faksa and Janmark together? -- @jadam146

Heika: There is going to be a lot of shuffling with the lines, so we'll see. I understand Joe Pavelski played more wing than center in San Jose, so I'm open to him playing wing here. And with Roope Hintz doing so well at center in the playoffs, you can configure things so that Pavelski can play wing.

I would like to see something like this in preseason, just to see if there is any chemistry:

Hintz - Seguin - Radulov

Benn - Pavelski - Perry

Janmark - Faksa - Gurianov

Cogliano - Dickinson - Comeau

Lindell - Klingberg

Heiskanen - Sekera

Oleksiak - Polak



I know the second line will be seen as slow and a possible defensive liability, but I would just like to see if there is chemistry there.

Video: Mike Heika on Stars signing Pavelski and Perry


How do you see the second and third lines shaping up? -- @tbbishop

Heika: They have a lot of options, so it will be interesting. Do you try to keep Hintz and Dickinson together? Does Pavelski play center or wing? There is a lot to work with, and the guess is the coaching staff will experiment a lot.


What's your prognosis of the prospects' chances in Traverse City? Will you be there? -- @paulbradb

Heika: I think they will do well, and yes, I will be there. I'm looking forward to trying to live up to the great work that Mark Stepneski has done there in the past.


Should I get a Dallas Stars tattoo? -- @PakkaJulmu

Heika: As an old man and a father, I will tell you what I tell my kids: You could always get a T-shirt or a hat or some jewelry. Heck, you could even dye your hair green. Isn't there some less permanent way of making a statement?


My wife and I go on a Stars road trip every season. Can you rank your top 5 road cities to attend? -- @TheOther_JeffK

Heika: Yes, I would go Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, New York and Las Vegas in that order. The Canadian hockey experience is incredible, and those are three amazing cities. New York is fun just to see MSG and feel the vibe, and Vegas is frenetic for hockey and everything else.


Do you think the Stars expect Jason Robertson to have a strong training camp and possibly make the roster? -- @Oleksiak

Heika: I think he's in the mix. There are some veterans who are potentially ahead of him, so I think they want him to be playing and getting better. That could mean he starts in the AHL and works his way up, but he definitely has a shot to prove himself.

Video: Behind the scenes of Development Camp with Robertson


We know the top 3 defensemen will be Klinger, Miro and Esa. Who do you see rounding out the 6? -- @KitchenKC

Heika: Right now, with Stephen Johns still an uncertainty, I think it will be Sekera, Oleksiak and Polak. I really think Sekera could be a pleasant surprise, and I also think he could be a good partner for Heiskanen.


I've often thought that Tom Holy is the behind the scenes MVP of the Stars organization. What do you think? Who else is a leader in making the Stars click? -- @GeorgePannell3

Heika: Tom Holy is a superstar, as is the entire PR Department -- as evidenced by their Dick Dillman awards (six for Holy, including two with the Stars). Dallas has a great group of consistent depth players who have been here for a while and really make things run smoothly.

Among them are: Jason Rademan, Steve Sumner and Dennis Soetaert, Kelly Forbes, Dave Zeis and Craig Lowry, Mark Janko and Scott White, and Brad Jellis. That's just a small group of the many people who are huge for the organization, but having veterans who get the job done on a daily basis really does help.


If you had to fight any current player on the roster, who would it be? -- @jasonfivash

Heika: Dude, I'm 58…I don't think I'm even allowed to fight. But if I had to, I think I could take down John Klingberg. (To quote Bryan Marchment on Bob Bassen: "What is he? A buck-sixty?")


When will we see a resolution to the future of Honka? -- @redskull73

Heika: It's a great question. Julius Honka was given a qualifying offer and did not sign it, so the Stars now control his NHL rights and can either sign him or trade him at any point. His lack of contract also means Honka can sign overseas and play there this season if he wants to. Without a contract, he is not expected to be in training camp and is awaiting a trade to another NHL team or will sign in Finland or Sweden or Russia or someplace that works for him. The guess is if he does sign there, the overseas contract will have an out that allows him to sign back in the NHL if he is traded at some point.

That's a long-winded way to say we are all waiting.

I personally believe Julius Honka is a good player who will benefit from a fresh start, and I think teams that would like to take a chance on a low-priced, right-handed defenseman with skill would be wise to acquire him. That said, he has been available for some time, so maybe he needs to play outside the NHL to re-establish his value. We'll find out in the next month or so what the next step is in his professional hockey path.

Some submissions have been edited for brevity and clarity. Have a question for a future Hey Heika mailbag? Tweet it to @MikeHeika and use #HeyHeika.

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 and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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