“Nemeth will play,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He’ll play tomorrow.”
That means the 22-year-old Swedish defenseman, Dallas’ second round pick (41st overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, will make his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals Tuesday night.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for since I came to North America,” said Nemeth. “It feels great, so it is going to be a lot of fun.”
Nemeth has played the last two seasons with the Texas Stars of the AHL following four years of pro hockey in Sweden, including two years in that country’s top league. He’s played 84 games with Texas over the past two seasons, recording 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists) and a plus-30 rating. He has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and a team-high plus-19 rating in 37 games this season.
“He’s played really well down there. He’s defended well. He’s been in on a little bit of offense,” said Ruff. “I’ve just heard a lot of good things about the way he’s been playing, and he had a good preseason for us.”
There’s nothing fancy about Nemeth’s game. He’s a solid defensive defenseman, he’s big (6-3, 235 pounds) and can play with a bit of an edge. Stars defenseman Jordie Benn, who played with Nemeth last season with Texas during the NHL lockout, provides a scouting report.
“He’s a big Swede. He’s a very good defensive player, keeps everything pretty simple,” Benn said. “He never puts himself in a scenario where he gets stuck. He makes that first pass pretty well, he can skate. He’s just a good, sound defensive defenseman.”
And that’s what Nemeth is hoping to bring at the NHL level.
“Hopefully just a strong defensive game, good decisions with the puck and hard to play against,” Nemeth said.
Nemeth got the call up due to Aaron Rome being injured in Saturday’s 4-2 win in St. Louis. Nemeth has had his share of injury problems over the last two seasons. He missed extensive time with a concussion last season and was out earlier this season with a broken foot. It’s slowed his development a bit, and prevented him from getting called up earlier in the season when Dallas was hard hit by injuries on the blue line. But Nemeth said he has tried to make the best of the situation.
“I missed a lot of games, but at the same time you realize that you have to work hard and when I’ve been out I’ve been able to work on other stuff, upper body strength and conditioning,” he said. “That stuff is pretty good now. Some good things come with it, but it has been frustrating.”
Even the drive to Frisco from Cedar Park for Monday’s practice was a little frustrating. It took Nemeth a couple extra hours to make the trip, but like the journey to get his first shot at the NHL, it was worth it.
“It was a long trip. It took me five hours, a lot of traffic,” Nemeth said. “But it was a fun drive, and it is good to be here.”
Injury Notes: Cole will travel
Stars forward Erik Cole, who has missed the last five games with an upper body injury, did not practice Monday. He did skate Sunday and will travel with the team on the team’s four-game road trip.
“He is still day to day and is progressing, which is encouraging,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I feel if he keeps progressing there is a chance he could play at the tail end of this road trip.”
Aaron Rome, who was injured in Saturday’s game against St. Louis, did not practice Monday.
“Rome will travel. He stayed off the ice today, but he will travel,” Ruff said.
Faksa, Klingberg headed to AHL
Two of the Dallas Stars’ top prospects are scheduled to join the Texas Stars of the AHL this week. Center Radek Faksa is expected to join the team Tuesday. Faksa, Dallas’ first round pick (13th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, had his junior season end Friday when Sudbury was eliminated in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
Defenseman John Klingberg, Dallas’ fifth round pick (131st overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, is expected to join Texas later in the week, spend some time there and then return to Sweden to try to make that country’s roster for the World Championship.
“He is coming over here until the end of April and then he’s heading back over there for [Sweden’s World Championship] training camp,” said Dallas GM Jim Nill. “It’s the best of both worlds. He gets to come over here and get some experience, and then he’ll head back there for their training camp and hopefully he makes their team. If he doesn’t, we’ll bring him back if [Texas] is still in the playoffs.”
Klingberg’s season ended in Sweden when Frolunda was knocked out in the first round of the Swedish Hockey League playoffs.
Monday’s practice lineup
Here’s how the Stars lined up in Monday morning’s practice in Frisco.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Ray Whitney – Dustin Jeffrey – Alex Chiasson
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Patrik Nemeth/Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar
Not skating: Aaron Rome (lower body), Erik Cole (upper body), Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.