Chris Tanev has been one of the most durable defensemen in the NHL during his career, so his uncertain status for Game 5 on Friday comes with serious concern.

The 34-year-old defenseman was struck in the skate during the second period of Game 4 while blocking a hard shot. He hobbled off the ice and did not return. Tanev is averaging 22:33 in ice time per game in the playoffs, fourth among Dallas defensemen, so his absence would be significant.

But, if the Stars needed to replace him, they have some options.

Nils Lundkvist has been with the Stars for the past two seasons and is the most familiar with how the defense plays. The 23-year-old logged 59 games during the regular season and averaged 14:06 in time on ice. He had 19 points (2 goals, 17 assists) and was plus-13 over the span. He played in the team’s first 12 playoff games, but saw his time on ice diminish as the coaching staff seemed hesitant to trust him. He is averaging 4:38 in time on ice during his first career postseason run.

Lundkvist (6-1, 190) is a skilled, right-handed defenseman, so he could be a good fit with a couple of different partners. If Dallas replaces the right-handed Tanev with a lefty, they would have just one right-handed defenseman in Alexander Petrovic. The 32-year-old replaced Lundkvist in Game 6 of the Second Round and has fared well in five playoff games. He is 6-5, 208 and is averaging 13:33 in his five playoff games. Petrovic has played 264 regular-season NHL games, but has played the past three seasons with the Texas Stars. He had 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) in 70 games for Texas this season before being called up.

One of his partners in the AHL was Derrick Pouliot. The 30-year-old lefty was one of the top skilled defensemen on Texas and finished with 46 points (9 goals, 37 assists) in 64 games this season. He also was called up for five NHL games back in February. Pouliot was drafted eighth overall by Pittsburgh in 2012 and has played 226 NHL games with the Penguins, Canucks, Blues, Golden Knights, Kraken, Sharks and Stars. He is listed at 6-1, 204.

If Pouliot and Petrovic were both to play, they could form a familiar pairing.

A less familiar option would be Lian Bichsel. The 20-year-old was a first-round pick (18th overall) by the Stars in 2022 and is one of the organization’s most intriguing prospects. Listed at 6-6, 233, Bichsel is a massive force on the ice. He played for parts of the past three seasons in the Swedish Hockey League and just finished up a 15-game playoff run with Rogle. He came over and played five playoff games with the Texas Stars before their season ended in addition to 16 AHL games during the regular season before heading back overseas.

He is left-handed and has been practicing with the Stars since the end of the AHL season, so he has some familiarity with the system. However, there might be some concern about him making his NHL debut in the Western Conference Final.

Maybe the best option would be veteran Jani Hakanpää. The 32-year-old has been a regular with the Stars for the past three seasons, but has been out since March 16 with a lower-body injury. He has been skating on his own and is traveling with the team, but there is a question on whether or not he is healthy enough to return. Listed at 6-7, 222, he averaged 18:39 in time on ice during the regular season and led the Stars in hits with 196.

Nonetheless, head coach Pete DeBoer is remaining optimistic on the return of Tanev.

"He blocked a shot and couldn't finish," said DeBoer. "Fingers crossed he'll be good for the next game."

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.

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