Waiver claim in Dallas will help bolster Texas Stars defense

The Texas Stars defense improved Saturday when the Dallas Stars claimed David Schlemko off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.

“You can never have enough defensemen,” Dallas general manger Jim Nill said. “We lost 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.”

The move gives Dallas eight defenseman for the time being and Nill said it gives the organization an opportunity to get Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokkipakka more ice time in both the NHL and AHL.

“What I want to do is I want to keep the young guys playing, so we’re going to look at the situation. I want the young guys playing all the time, so we might create a situation where the guys go down (to the AHL) for a week or two weeks and play four or five games and then come back up and maybe the next guy goes,” Nill said. “Now that can all change quick as you know with injuries and that, but that’s kind of 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.”

It appears Jokipakka will be the first in the rotation to join Texas. The 23-year-old Finn is expected to be a healthy scratch for Dallas tonight and could join Texas in time for its game against the Charlotte Checkers tomorrow.

It’s going to create some interesting roster decisions for the AHL club, especially with Julius Honka expected to re-join the team Tuesday after playing with Finland at the World Junior championship.

Derek Meech, Maxime Fortunus, Cameron Gaunce, Honka, and Jokipakka or Oleksiak should make up Texas top-five defensemen going forward. That creates a three-man competition for one spot between Matt Mangene, Scott Valentine, and William Wrenn for one spot.

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