FRISCO -- With each step forward on the injury front the Dallas Stars seem destined to take two giants step backwards.
On Thursday the Stars had Ales Hemsky back in the lineup for just the second time this season and for the first time since Oct. 22. Then within a period the team lost Antoine Roussel for the season when he suffered a hand injury blocking a shot by Johnny Boychuk.
In the second period Hemsky, killing penalties because of Roussel’s injury, was also gunned down on a shot by Boychuk, this one connecting with his foot. Hemsky finished the game and may play on Saturday against the Florida Panthers, but there is concern swelling won’t allow him to suit up.
Whether Hemsky plays or not, Remi Elie will make his NHL debut against the Panthers. A second-round pick in 2013 (40th overall), Elie was recalled earlier this week and didn’t play, but was first to get the call when Roussel was injured.
“Good skater, heavy on the puck,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He plays a lot like (Roussel). Very determined player on the forecheck, very hard player to play against.”
For a while it seemed like Elie’s NHL call-up would have come last season. He was one of the better players in training camp before the 2015-16 season and nearly made the NHL club before being one of the last send downs to the AHL.
But he struggled after training camp and wasn’t consistent enough in the AHL. During his rookie AHL season Elie had 17 points in 64 games and failed to carry over the high level of play from NHL training camp.
That slump carried over into the early part of this year, but Elie has since found his stride in the AHL and has been one of the Texas Stars' most consistent forwards. The stat line (25 points in 50 games) isn’t what you’d hope, but the underlying parts of his game should allow him to fill in well on the fourth line.
“I think I’ve done better this season,” Elie said recently. “I’m playing my game, and I’m more comfortable with what I need to do. I don’t think that’s something I was doing well enough (last season).”
Elie’s recall if the first part of what should be a youth movement for Dallas over the final 18 games. After the trade deadline NHL teams get four non-emergency recalls, so Dallas should also find opportunities to get the likes of Jason Dickinson and Julius Honka in the lineup. In addition, the Stars will be testing and trying different combinations on defense to see which players fit and which players should be part of the future plans after trading away veteran defensemen Johnny Oduya and Jordie Benn.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.