Texas Stars mailbag: Picking a captain, projecting centers, and more

The mailbag is back. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The mailbag is back. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Let’s bring the Texas Stars mailbag back from summer vacation.

And what perfect timing:

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For those new to the mailbag, this is an opportunity to field questions about players, prospects, teams, the American Hockey League, and any anything else that comes to mind.

If you want to jump into the conversation Tweet me at @SeanShapiro.

Let’s get started.

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It’s going to be Travis Morin or Greg Rallo, and as of last month Stars coach Derek Laxdal said that decision hasn’t been made yet.

My gut says Rallo gets the nod, for a couple of reasons.

Rallo — at least to media and public perception — is more of a vocal leader, while Morin prefers to lead by example and prefers to keep to himself.

Rallo is also on an AHL contract, he’s not going anywhere during the season.

Morin, while seemingly unlikely, could be part of the Dallas Stars this season and could be called-up in case of injury. With a young team, it might be best to have a consistent captain leading the way.

Of course, Laxdal can’t go wrong with either player. No matter who wears the C, both Morin and Rallo will share leadership duties.

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Texas is loaded at center.

Travis Morin, Justin Dowling, Radek Faksa, Devin Shore, Jason Dickinson, and Gemel Smith are all capable of leading a line.

But, I believe three of the four center spots are already spoken for by Morin, Dowling, and Faksa.

Morin will be the top-line center, while Faksa or Dowling will likely center the second and third lines. Right now, I think Shore will center the fourth line, while Dickinson will play on a wing higher in the lineup.

That also leaves little room for Smith, who will probably have to play on the wing or may be stuck in the ECHL.

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I don’t really have a “fanboy hat,” but from a pure hockey perspective I’m looking forward to watching Radek Faksa this season.

I’ve seen others label Faksa as a disappointment — or even a potential bust — but, that’s short-sighted thinking.

Faksa has the tools to be a shut-down center in the NHL. And, if he comes in with confidence this, I would expect to make his NHL debut this season.

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On opening night it will be John Muse, who Texas signed to an AHL contract this summer.

Philippe Desrosiers will start the season with the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL. But, if Desrosiers plays well enough in Idaho he’ll be given an opportunity to play in Texas.

The most important thing to remember is that Dallas wants both Campbell and Desrosiers playing. So, if Desrosiers is called up, it’ll be an opportunity for him to play some games — not just watch from the bench.

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I’d like to think Jack Campbell takes the next step this season. For the first time in his professional career he’s opening the season as the starting goalie.

Throughout his career — and life in general — Campbell has played his best hockey when he’s been “the guy.” It’s a confidence booster, and allows the former first-round pick to focus on his game.

I think Campbell will also benefit from Mike Valley’s presence in Cedar Park. While Andy Moog had spent time in Cedar Park parts of the last two seasons, he wasn’t a pure goalie coach.

Valley on the other hand will work closely with Campbell on technique throughout the season, and the goalie should benefit greatly.

As for the Rampage, 14 games seems quite ridiculous, right?

Well, the AHL didn’t have too much of an option since the Oklahoma City Barons departed for California. In the past, Texas had 12 bus trips between San Antonio and Oklahoma City — and 18 when the Houston Aeros still existed — now, they’ll be downgraded to seven a season.

It was as cost-saving move by the AHL, and the fiscal bottom line for San Antonio and Texas will benefit from 14 meetings.

In the Curtis McKenzie vs. Brett Ritchie debate, I think Ritchie starts the season in Cedar Park.

McKenzie is already built for a bottom-six role in the NHL. That should give him the edge when Dallas considers its needs and what both players provide.

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Tacking on more about Campbell here.

I think he’ll be given the green light to play the puck, it’s part of the game now. But, he also has to learn when not to play the puck and take a more conservative approach. That’s another thing Valley could help him with.

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Team hasn’t revealed those plans yet. But, I would imagine something is in the works for around or during Dallas Stars training camp in September.

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Cop out here, but I’m going with Julius Honka. I think he learned quite a bit as a rookie last season and could really impress during the 2015-16 season.

I’ll take the over on Hulak’s point total this season.

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Kevin Henderson will not be back with Texas next season. He hasn’t signed anywhere yet, per his agent, but I would expect him to sign somewhere on a PTO before training camps start.

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You can’t go wrong with Greg Rallo.

Look how his career has been built around burying one-timers on the power play.

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