In Friday’s edition of Dallas Stars News & Rumors, training camp gets underway in Frisco, Jamie Benn’s position is up in the air, and an update on the health of Ben Bishop and Roope Hintz.
Stars Training Camp is Underway
It is finally here: real NHL hockey. The Stars kicked off 2021-22 training camp on Thursday morning from the Comerica Center in Frisco. Camp will feature 61 players, 35 forwards, 19 defensemen, and seven goaltenders. The team broke into three groups on Thursday, each one going through a full session. Among the groups, some line combinations stood out above others. The most interesting lines on day one included:
- Jason Robertson – Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski
- Joel Kiviranta – Tyler Seguin – Alexander Radulov
- Micael Raffl – Jamie Benn – Denis Gurianov
- Tanner Kero – Radek Faksa – Luke Glendenning
- Nick Caamano – Ty Dellandrea – Blake Comeau
- Esa Lindell – Miro Heiskanen
- Ryan Suter – John Klingberg
- Joel Hanley – Andrej Sekera
- Thomas Harley – Jani Hakanpaa
These lines will likely be shuffled throughout camp and during the preseason, but it is an excellent insight into what the coaching staff is thinking. Camp will go through Saturday, September 26; then the Stars will play their first preseason game on Monday night on the road against the St. Louis Blues.
Benn Can Play Center or Wing
After his emergence at center last season, Benn headed into this season not knowing what position he would start. On the one hand, he was a much more effective player down the middle and found his game once he moved to center. On the other, his buddies Seguin and Radulov are both ready to play following their injuries last season, and those three have been dynamic on the ice together.
If Benn was to play left wing, he could slot in on the second line next to those two, having essentially two centers. In the past, that has given them an advantage on faceoffs and more fluidity all over the ice. If the coaching staff wanted him to play center, he would likely slide down to the third line as Seguin and Radulov are more comfortable playing on the right side. This could give Dallas more offense throughout their lineup, or it could put Benn into a role that eliminates his offensive abilities; only time will tell. So far, he is centering the third line through one day of camp, but that may change on day two.
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Hintz on Schedule, Bishop “Still Has a Long Way to Go”
Stars’ fans were struck with a hint of positivity when Bishops’ name was included on the training camp active roster. That positivity increased when we watched him take part in day one of camp on Thursday. However, as soon as general manager Jim Nill stepped up to the media, it all vanished. Nill stated that Hintz and Ben Bishop were not yet cleared to play following their surgeries. Hintz underwent groin surgery this summer while Bishop is still rehabbing from knee surgery in 2020. Both players will take part in camp, but the big difference comes in their timetable to return. Hintz is on schedule to start the season, while Bishop’s return date is largely unknown.
The 6-foot-7 goaltender will continue to work hard and push his knee with the hopes of a good outcome. However, It is clear after Nills’ words that he will likely start the season on LTIR and may not be ready for a while.
All Players Vaccinated Except L’Esperance
In what has become the norm of 2020 and 2021, Nill was asked how many of his players and staff were vaccinated on day one of camp. He answered that all had been vaccinated other than young forward Joel L’Esperance. According to the GM, L’Esperance decided against the vaccination for personal reasons and has the full support of the Stars’ staff in doing so.
Day one of camp told us a few things that we have waited to hear all summer. Bishop will not be ready, Benn will get a look at center, and all other players are healthy, vaccinated, and ready to go. What will we uncover by the end of camp? Stick around to find out.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!