The title says it all, but what it means more than anything is that meaningful hockey is finally here. Let’s take a look at the Opening Night roster for the Dallas Stars, and what implications it may have right out of the gate as the Stars look to rebound off of a lackluster finish to the previous campaign.
(Before we dive in it must be noted that this roster could still shift by Thursday nights puck drop against the New York Rangers.)
We have done all the speculating and calculating that there is to be done as fans and analysts, but Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill and Head Coach Rick Bowness have made it official. These are your Dallas Stars for opening night in the 2021-22 NHL season. Consisting of 23 active skaters including 14 forwards, six defensemen and three goalies.
Offseason acquisitions Luke Glendening, Michael Raffl, and Ryan Suter made the cut, while the big bodied blueliner Jani Hakanpaa was placed on Inured Reserve retroactive to Sept. 27. Rounding out the offseason pickups Alexander Petrovic and Andreas Borgman both land in AHL, as most expected. That leaves easily the most surprising offseason acquisition, Braden Holtby. Holtby along with Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger have all landed on the opening night roster, but a starter has yet to be named as of Monday evening. (This is still one of the most interesting stories going into Thursday nights season opener.)
As expected, Ben Bishop will begin the season on LTIR. It is still unknown if we will see him play in the NHL again. Let alone in victory green.
In my opinion the most surprising name on the opening night roster is Swedish center, Oskar Back. Who was recalled in the preseason finale in Colorado after being sent down to the AHL affiliate Texas Stars. Just as equally surprising, Joel Kiviranta was loaned to the Texas Stars as well and is not on the roster for Thursday. Now, before you act like Cowboys fans and start ripping the American Airlines Center down, there is more than meets the eye. This is likely a numbers move on the money end of things as stated by Saad Yousuf of The Athletic.
With less than a week until the puck drops in Madison Square Garden, the Stars lineup of elite caliber players finds themselves in unfamiliar territory.
What territory you might ask? It’s simple. Healthy. In a preseason where we witnessed Alex Ovechkin go down with a lower body injury and countless roll players follow suit, having Hakanpaa be the most notable name on the IR seems like an early Christmas gift. (It’s been floating around that Hakanpaa may be ready for opening night. Still holding onto hope for that.)
Roope Hintz won’t have to be a game time decision every night of the week. The Russian spark plug that is Alexander Radulov is back and is celebrating pre-season goals like it’s game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Oh, and Tyler Seguin is a few pre game jitters away from being the pillar of this franchise as intended. While last season was a cruel reminder of what this sport can do to the human body, it may have been a blessing in disguise.
While the weather is still getting the hint down here in Texas that it’s hockey season, there is a buzz in the hockey community. The fans are ready. The Stars social media team is completely revamped and absolutely crushing it. (Kudos for that.) Having been to a few preseason games, the barn looks beautiful, the seats are filling back up. Max capacity. Full send. It’s officially go time.