*Dallas waived defenseman Doug Janik, who was then claimed by Chicago, and then reacquired him later today in a trade with Chicago (for a conditional seventh round draft pick)
*With the expectation of them staying put, the Stars "assigned" James Neal and Mark Fistric to nearby minor league teams
*The NHL allowed the Stars a long-term injury exception for Sergei Zubov, which allowed them enough salary cap relief to "call up" Neal and Fistric
*Dallas assigned Chris Conner and Francis Wathier to minor league teams; earlier in the week they did the same with Dan Jancevski, Garrett Stafford, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Landon Wilson, Maxime Fortunus, and Matt Climie; they also released Konstantin Pushkarev
All of the moves left the Stars with 23 active players: 14 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goalies. Zubie makes #24 but he is on IR. Of course, when he returns (no less than 10 games or 24 days), Dallas will have to adjust the roster again in order to comply with the salary cap allowance.
Now on to the good stuff ... the Dallas Stars square off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in approximately 46 hours! The team has lost some pieces and added some others, but all-in-all, I fully expect them to produce similar results. Without question they are Cup contenders! Some people/sites have them repeating last year and losing to Detroit in the WCF's, while others have them not even making the playoffs. While I think the latter is ridiculous, I actually don't believe the first one either. This team is ready ... they can win this year. From Tom Hicks to Brett Hull and Les Jackson to Dave Tippett and his staff - the organization is top-notch. Brendan Morrow is the very definition of Captain. They have the perfect mixture of veterans and youth. Most importantly, they have a room full of guys that believe in the system, believe in each other, and believe they can win now! It is going to be a fun and exciting campaign ... and I am thankful to have a front-row seat for all of it!
One injury note: Jere Lehtinen is once again dealing with a groin problem. He did not practice on Wednesday and may not play in Friday's home opener. Let us sincerely hope this does not linger.
Opening Day Roster:
Forwards - Avery, Barch, Brunnstrom, Crombeen, Eriksson, Lehtinen, Lundqvist, Modano, Morrow, Neal, Ott, Petersen, Ribeiro, and Richards
Defensemen - Boucher, Daley, Fistric, Grossman, Janik, Niskanen, Robidas, and Zubov
Goalies - Stephan and Turco
Since the season preview site was unable to be finished in time, here are some of my predictions for 2008-2009...
*Brad Richards will hit the 90-point plateau, making him only the 7th player in franchise history to do so; Morrow and Ribeiro will each score 60+ points
*Brunnstrom will win the Calder trophy; Turco will finally be at least mentioned for the Vezina
*Otter, Avery, Barch, and Crombeen - the Stars may lead the league in PIM's - and that will be a good thing
*Eastern Conference playoff teams, in order - Canadiens, Penguins, Capitals, Rangers, Devils, Lightening, Flyers, and Senators (Thrashers in last place)
*West Conference playoff teams, in order - Red Wings, Stars, Flames, Sharks, Ducks, Wild, Blackhawks, and Oilers (Kings in last place)
*ECF's - Canadiens over Lightening (in 6)
*WCF's - Stars over Red Wings (in 7)
*Stanley Cup Champions - DALLAS STARS (in 6)
Previous Blog - Ready . . .