Welcome to another edition of the Texas Stars mailbag.
If you have questions about the team, a certain player, or anything else that comes to mind send them my way. I’ll be fielding questions via Twitter, the Wrong Side of the Red Line Facebook page, and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s see what we’ve got for this week:
If Texas plays the Rockford IceHogs in the first round it would be a 2-3 format, with Game 1 and 2 at the Cedar Park Center.
Of the teams Texas would likely play in the first round — Rockford, Grand Rapids Griffins, Utica Comets, or San Antonio Rampage — only San Antonio would be a 2-2-1 format. In that case Game 1 and 2 would be at the AT&T Center. Game 3 and 4 would be at the Cedar Park Center, while Game 5, if needed, would be back in San Antonio.
It’s a similar setup for a seven-game series, if Texas was to reach the second round. Other than San Antonio — which could be a 2-2-1-1-1 format — all other opponents would be a 2-3-2 format.
Not many, but that’s the nature of AHL contracts.
Most AHL contracts are one-year deals, designed to give players and clubs added flexibility.
Travis Morin did sign a two-year contract extension back in January, so he’ll be back next season.
Maxime Fortunus, Derek Meech, Cameron Gaunce, Kevin Henderson, and Greg Rallo will all be free agents this summer. In all likelihood Meech or Fortunus will be re-signed, possibly both, since Dallas likes to have a veteran presence to work with its prospects.
It’s hard to speculate on Gaunce, Henderson, and Rallo. There are a couple factors (money, role, etc.) that could come into play, and we’ll probably know a bit more as dominoes start to fall from Dallas’ off-season moves.
I think Derek Hulak has earned an NHL contract this summer, whether it’s with Dallas or another organization.
I think we can look at Brendan Ranford as a perfect example. Ranford was on an AHL deal last season, then impressed the Dallas brass enough during the Calder Cup Playoffs and made his NHL debut this season.
Hulak could follow a similar path.
Jack Campbell is a restricted free agent this summer, I’d be shocked if Dallas didn’t re-sign him.
Dallas’ biggest nightmare would be letting Campbell walk and watch him become another NHL franchise’s future goalie. Avoiding that potential nightmare is an easy decision for Dallas general manager Jim Nill.
Speaking of Campbell…
Confidence and playing time. That goes a long way.
Campbell has played 21 games in the past 53 days between the ECHL and AHL, and he’s into a rhythm that he’s been used to his entire life — playing every game and being the go-to guy.
You also have to remember he’s completely healthy as well. With the lingering effects of past injuries gone, he hasn’t had to modify or change his game to make up for that.
I think he has the capabilities, but I think the most telling thing is how Texas doesn’t utilize Scott Glennie on the penalty kill very often.
Players like Travis Morin, Greg Rallo, Derek Hulak, Justin Dowling, Curtis McKenzie, and Kevin Henderson are often the forwards on the penalty kill.
Glennie is rarely part of that group. And if he is on the ice for a penalty kill it’s usually during an extended power play for the opponent.
If Glennie wants to be an NHL player he’ll have to do the little things that bottom-six forwards are asked to do. And that includes killing penalties.
Jamie Oleksiak has improved his play at the AHL level.
There have been times in the past that he’s looked disinterested and, frankly, lazy when playing in the AHL. That’s changed in the last third of the season, particularly after Jyrki Jokipakka moved ahead him on the NHL depth chart.
Overall, I think Oleksiak is getting better. He just needs to continue maturing and mentally grasping the game to fit his large frame.
I’m going to say Scott Valentine will have the best playoff beard. Julius Honka may have the worst, I’m not sure if he can grow one.
I’m not sure if this is well known, but Brendan Ranford is often called “Billy.”
Because his uncle is former NHL goalie Billy Ranford.