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Heika: Patience, trust may be best solution to depth-scoring dilemma

The Stars believe they have enough in-house secondary talent to support their top line

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

I hesitate to even open this discussion, but what the heck, it's raining, there's no practice today, and I just watched some of last night's game in New Jersey.

OK, I agree with all of you that the Stars should be looking into depth scoring -- and I think they always are. They only have $1.5 million in cap space, but they have found ways to be creative in the past, so the guess is they talk about possible solutions every day.

That said, they also can still go about trying to fix this with in-house solutions. The Devils had some of the worst depth scoring in the league last year (and they still might), but they were fantastic on Tuesday because they executed coach John Hynes' system to a tee.

The Devils played what I believe is the most complete game any team has played against the Stars this season, because they were relentless in effort and in sticking to the details. They had sticks in the passing lanes, they supported their teammates, they put pucks in smart places. They had full marks from every unit on the ice.

That's what Jim Montgomery is trying to do with the Stars.

Video: Razor says Stars were 'out detailed' by the Devils

Hynes has some great players at the top of his lineup, but this is not a star-studded roster. He has turned this group into a very nice team with really good coaching and a mindset that role players can change games even when they don't score.

I believe the Stars are trying to do something similar. They know they have some of the best players in the league on the top line, but they also believe there is enough depth to support those players -- if that depth plays a hard, relentless, compete game.

Maybe in watching the first six games, you can determine that's not going to happen.

Maybe in watching for the past few years, you don't like the development of those players.

You have a right to that opinion.

Video: Stars still searching for answers on the road

But if you want some guys making, $7, $8, $9 million (and it sounds like you want at least one more), then you are going to have to trust that the depth will fill in at some point. Right now, the Stars are hoping that depth could come from players like Valeri Nichushkin, Jason Dickinson, Roope Hintz, Gemel Smith, Miro Heiskanen and Julius Honka. But those players are in transition. They need to get better.

I know many of you get frustrated that the younger players don't always get the chance to get better because of the daily pursuit of winning games, but we're just six games into this coaching staff, and that's where I think the request for patience is reasonable. We don't know how Jim Montgomery will use his players, we don't know what decisions he will make.

He is in transition, too.

The blueprint is everyone gets better and grows together, and that creates a team that is strong overall and hard to play against.

The Stars saw on Tuesday what it's like to face a team that's hard to play against. They didn't like it.

Video: Benn reacts after Stars are blanked by Devils

Now, Hynes is starting his fourth year in New Jersey and his team missed the playoffs the first two seasons. I know you don't like the sound of that schedule, and I don't think the Stars do either. They want to win now. They think they have the players who are in the right places in their careers to win now. They think they have a coach who can adapt quickly and win now.

And maybe they just might try to add another player in an attempt to win now.

But, remember, the odds are that's going to be one guy. If you really want a top-level, second-line forward, you will have to work very hard to shoehorn in one decent contract.

The rest, it seems, will have to come from what's here.

And the Stars are just fine with that.

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, and listen to his podcast.

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