Stars 2008 training camp preview

By Mike Farkas

The Dallas Stars will kick off yet another training camp on Sept. 19 and the players will hit the ice the next day.  And several of the club’s youngsters have already hit the ice in Traverse City.  The eight-team prospect tournament saw participation from such Stars hopefuls as Fabian Brunnstrom, James Neal, Raymond Sawada, and Ivan Vishnevskiy.  After the championship game against the Thrashers, they will return to Frisco, TX to join their fellow teammates for the team’s official training camp.

Forwards

The Stars have a veteran (some might call it "aging") group of forwards who will still dominate the ranks for the time being.  Luckily, and probably not by accident, the organization’s prospect pool strength in numbers is at forward.  Of the Stars top 20 prospects, 14 are forwards. 

With Sean Avery, Loui Eriksson, Jere Lehtinen, Joel Lundqvist, Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow, Steve Ott, Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards assured spots on the team, it only leaves three lower-end spots for a hefty group of burgeoning forwards.  That figure does not even include Krys Barch and Toby Petersen. 

It seems unlikely that power forward James Neal or Swedish standout Fabian Brunnstrom would be used as fourth liners, however, a player like hard worker B.J. Crombeen or the heavy hitter Raymond Sawada could fill that role very well.  In fact, it could very well be Crombeen’s spot to lose at this point.  If a spot opens up in the top-nine, the aforementioned Neal and Brunnstrom will be given strong consideration.  Brunnstrom is older and more experienced than Neal, but Neal finished very strong in Iowa (AHL) last season, much stronger than Brunnstrom did in Sweden.  In addition, this could be the last call for the still unsigned Konstantin Pushkarev to crack the lineup.  Outside of that, it seems like a longshot at best for the remaining forwards in the system to start the year in Dallas. 

Among the longshots in attendance, Jamie Benn could be expected to turn some heads in camp.  Last year, the sniper was one of the top scorers in the WHL despite missing plenty of games.  Quick, but undersized, forward Chris Conner will try to find a way to establish his place in the organization, as will speedster Sergei Korostin.  Goal-scoring center Aaron Gagnon and scoring winger John Lammers will try to earn full-time status in the AHL this season.  Even with Steve Ott and Sean Avery available to stir the pot, the Stars have invited Luke Gazdic to hopefully add a little fiestiness down the line.

In Dallas’ second of two forward groups, they feature playmaking center Perttu Lindgren who finished his first professional North American season in 2007-08.  Colton Sceviour, who broke out last year upon his trade to Lethbridge (WHL), will be in attendance hoping to build on last year’s success.  Michigan Tech grad Tyler Shelast got a taste of pro hockey last season and will get a look at training camp for the first time.  Despite the likelihood of him playing in Europe this season, Lauri Tukonen is expected to be in camp and competing for a spot on the Stars; in the past, injuries have slowed Tukonen’s progression and he hopes this is the year he can finally meet his draft status.  Sizeable forwards Francis Wathier and 33-year-old Landon Wilson will also compete for spots.

The Stars full training camp roster for forwards:

NO.    PLAYER          HT    WT          D.O.B.   
16    Sean Avery        5-10    195        4/10/80
13    Krys Barch        6-2    210        3/26/80
70    Jamie Benn        6-2    205        7/18/89
96    Fabian Brunnstrom 6-1    202             2/6/85
25    Chris Conner    5-8    180        4/25/83
44    B.J. Crombeen    6-2    212        7/10/85
21    Loui Eriksson    6-1    190        7/17/85
11    Aaron Gagnon    5-11    189        4/24/86
52    Luke Gazdic        6-3    233        7/25/89
32    Sergei Korostin    5-11    192        7/5/89
20    John Lammers    5-11    184        2/28/86
                   
26    Jere Lehtinen    6-0    194        6/24/73
15    Perttu Lindgren    6-1    197        8/26/87
39    Joel Lundqvist    6-1    198        3/2/82
9    Mike Modano    6-3    205        6/7/70
10    Brenden Morrow    5-11    207        1/16/79
18    James Neal    6-2    210        9/3/87
29    Steve Ott    6-0    195        8/19/82
17    Toby Petersen    5-10    200        10/27/78
23    Konstantin Pushkarev 6-0 180        2/12/85
63    Mike Ribeiro    6-0    180        2/10/80
91    Brad Richards    6-0    195        5/2/80
12    Raymond Sawada    6-2    218        2/19/85
57    Colton Sceviour    6-0    199        4/20/89
34    Tyler Shelast    6-1    212        12/26/84
36    Matt Stephenson    6-2    197        3/3/84
38    Lauri Tukonen    6-2    198        9/1/86
58    Francis Wathier    6-3    198        12/7/84
22    Landon Wilson    6-3    226        3/13/75

Defensemen

The Dallas blueline is already filled to the brim, in large part due to the recently-graduated prospects that have filled in the ranks.  Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Grossman and Mark Fistric have stepped up nicely in wake of injuries and opened spots.  Philippe Boucher, Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas and Sergei Zubov will be returning stalwarts. 

Having already named seven rearguards, it seems unlikely that there is any room for more.  Fistric retains prospect status but will probably graduate this season; meanwhile, top prospect Vishnevskiy will get his first taste of professional hockey in the AHL this season.  It’s not out of the realm of reality to think that Vishnevskiy could earn a call-up if a power-play pointman goes down, but the likelihood of the Russian defender being ready for the rigors of the NHL game is slim at this juncture. 

Maxime Fortunus, Dan Jancevski and Garrett Stafford, none of whom possess prospect status, will be in attendance as Dallas looks to deepen their organizational depth on the blueline.  Dallas did not sign Trevor Ludwig, but he will be at camp in addition to his appearance with the club in Traverse City.  The Stars also invited, from St. Cloud State, Matt Stephenson.  A defensive defenseman, Stephenson was given a tryout by Iowa at the end of last season and was furnished a similar opportunity to show his stuff at Traverse City.

The Stars full training camp roster for defensemen:*

NO.    PLAYER             HT    WT             D.O.B.
43    Phillipe Boucher 6-3    221        3/24/73
6    Trevor Daley    5-11    207        10/9/83
28    Mark Fistric    6-2    232        6/1/86
27    Maxime Fortunus    6-1    190        7/28/83
2    Nicklas Grossman 6-3    214        1/22/85
4    Dan Jancevski    6-3    218        6/15/81
                   
24    Trevor Ludwig    6-1    216        5/24/85
5    Matt Niskanen    6-0    199        12/6/86
3    Stephane Robidas 5-11    195        3/3/77
37    Garrett Stafford 6-0    200        1/28/80
55    Ivan Vishnevskiy 5-11    176        2/18/88
56    Sergei Zubov    6-1    200        7/22/70

* Matt Stephenson is listed at forward on the official roster

Goaltenders

After trading Mike Smith to Tampa Bay and not retaining Johan Holmqvist, the Stars will rely on Tobias Stephan to back up Marty Turco.  Stephan appeared in one game last season where he pitched a shutout through 59:58 but came away with an overtime loss.  Richard Bachman will return to Colorado College, and is not eligible to attend training camp.  While Dallas’ first selection in 2008, Tyler Beskorowany, will return to the Owen Sound Attack (OHL), he’s at least a couple years away from making a serious push at an NHL job.  Currently, 25-year-old Matt Climie will, for better or for worse, serve as the third goalie in the organization.  Climie, who spent four years at Bemidji State, appeared in six games for Iowa (AHL) last season, going 1-4-1 with a 3.99 GAA and .872 save percentage. 

The Stars did extend an invitation to Joey Perricone from the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL).  The 6’1, 215-pound netminder has been a four-year starter for Moose Jaw.  Last season, he posted career highs in games (59), save pct. (.912) and shutouts (5); he posted a 28-16-13 record with a 2.76 GAA.

The Stars full training camp roster for goalies:
NO.    PLAYER             HT    WT        D.O.B.
1      Tyler Beskorowany 6-4    207        4/28/90
33    Matt Climie    6-2    205        2/11/83
41    Joey Perricone    6-1    215        6/6/87
31    Tobias Stephan    6-3    185        1/21/84
35    Marty Turco    5-11    189        8/13/75

The Stars will kick off their preseason schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 23 in St. Louis.