(Photo credit: Tim Lauzon/Texas Stars)
It is now January 16th and we are just four days before the NHL officially drops the puck once again. While many of us in Austin were fortunate enough to enjoy a lot of good hockey before the lockout was over, we are still affected by the changes nonetheless. Before Dallas Stars opened up their doors for training camp, they announced they had called up six of our own, including Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel, Brendon Dillon, Reilly Smith, Jordie Benn and Cristopher Nilstorp. Nilstorp came as no surprise, given his performance over the last few months. Eakin was another expected callup, as he has posted 24 points in 35 games.
In addition, Dallas announced that they had traded big defenseman Mark Fistric for a third round draft pick to the Edmonton Oilers. With the departure of Fistric, that opens up the door for either Dillon or Benn to get the spot in Dallas. Both have certainly earned that right this year, and it will be interesting to see who ends up with the honor. It is possible that both might stay up with the big club, albeit one of them as a healthy scratch.
The absence of Tomas Vincour and the inclusion of Roussel came as a shock to many fans. Or maybe not. Vincour's performance in the AHL hasn't exactly been noteworthy and it almost seemed as though he didn't want to be there. Roussel has shown to be a contributor to the team and has the ability to antagonize the other team to their detriment. After losing Adam Burish to the Sharks and Steve Ott to the Sabres, the Stars were in need of a player who could get under the opponent's skin and draw penalties. Roussel may be able to fill that role.
In addition to the recent departures, we have also gained a few players from the ECHL. On January 7th the Stars announced the return of firecracker Austin Smith and the PTO signing of Justin Dowling. Defenseman Jace Coyle joined the team later in the week. Naturally with Nilstorp gone, Tyler Beskorowany was called up from the Idaho Steelheads to backup Jack Campbell. Finally, the ECHL transaction list shows that Mathieu Tousignant has been called up to Texas, though no press release has confirmed this news yet. Tousignant is a good instigator, and we should feel no absence from the loss of Roussel.
By the way, did I mention that Campbell shutout Oklahoma City 3-0, his first of the year? Not to mention the Texas Stars earning their 6th win in a row, setting a new franchise record. Busy week for the Stars. Stay tuned for more information.