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Stars Claim Schlemko Off Waivers, Add Defensive Depth

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars had seven defensemen on the ice for this morning’s skate at American Airlines Center. Just after the skate ended word came that they had added an eighth. The Stars claimed defenseman David Schlemko off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.

“You can never have enough defensemen,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “We lost [Sergei] Gonchar. We lost Kevin Connauton, Patrik Nemeth’s injured. We’ve lost three defensemen during the course of the season, and we needed to add some depth. David’s a good player.”

The 27-year-old Schlemko has four points (one goal, three assists) in 20 games for Arizona this season. He’s played 207 NHL games – all with the Coyotes – and has registered 50 points (nine goals, 41 assists).

“He moves the puck well and just adds some depth in case of injuries,” Nill said. “We’re making a run here. The guys have been playing well. We just want to make sure that we got enough assets to keep this run going in case of injuries.”

Nill said the move will give the Stars the option to keep their young defensemen playing either in Dallas or the AHL. The Stars have been scratching either Jyrki Jokipakka or Jamie Oleksiak. Now, one of those two can be in the AHL getting ice time with the Texas Stars.

“I want the young guys playing all the time, so we might create a situation where the guys go down for a week or two weeks and play four or five games and then come back up and maybe the next guy goes,” said Nill. “Now that can all change quick as you know with injuries and that, but that’s the game plan right now. I want the young guys to keep playing. They’ll still be up here, but I want them kind of when they’re not playing get in the lineup down there and play.”

How much Schlemko gets into the lineup will be up to Schlemko.

“His play will dictate that,” said Nill. “I’ll leave that up to Lindy [Ruff] and the coaches and David. He comes in here, he moves the puck well, I think he plays our system well and his play will dictate that and I’ll let the coaches decide that.”

Stars lineup notes

Based on this morning’s skate, the Stars will not make any lineup changes for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so he is expected to make his 11th consecutive start

The forward lines and defense pairs were the same as those used in Wednesday’s 6-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Forward Travis Morin and defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka skated late, so they are the likely scratches.

Shawn Horcoff, who missed Wednesday’s game and Friday’s practice due to illness, did not skate Saturday morning.

“He’s getting better, getting better but still not well enough to play,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

Wild watch

The Wild did not skate this morning. They played last night in St. Paul, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1. It was just the second win in the last eight games for the Wild (2-3-3).

This is Minnesota’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. They are 2-0-2 in second games.

Saturday’s game

Who: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinColton Sceviour
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Travis MoenVernon FiddlerBrett Ritchie

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jamie OleksiakTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Travis Morin, David Schlemko

Injured: Shawn Horcoff (illness), Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)

Wild projected lineup

Zach Parise – Mikko Koivu – Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek – Kyle Brodziak – Justin Fontaine
Nino Niederreiter – Erik Haula – Charlie Coyle
Ryan Carter – Tyler Graovac - Matt Cooke

Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella – Jared Spurgeon
Nate Prosser - Christian Folin

Darcy Kuemper
Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Stu Bickel, Brett Sutter.

Injured: Keith Ballard (facial fractures), Mikael Granlund (wrist), Jason Zucker (illness).

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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