Season Preview: Dallas Stars
Powered by two of the most exciting young players in the NHL, Dallas qualified for the play-offs for the first time in six years last season.
With the acquisition of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky during the summer, the Stars have addressed their secondary scoring needs and look to be on the right path once again.
Tyler Seguin was phenomenal during his first season in Texas. Leading Dallas in goals (37) and points (84), he formed a devastating partnership with Jamie Benn on the Stars first line.
Both Seguin and Benn (34 goals, 79 points) had legitimate cases to be Hart Trophy finalists, but no other player passed 20 goals or 50 points – leading to concerns that if the top line was shut down, Dallas was shut down.
General Manager Jim Nill, who had already made an impressive start to his tenure as Stars supremo, went a long way toward solving the problem when he acquired want-away centre Jason Spezza from Ottawa.
The 2nd overall pick in 2001, Spezza is fifth in points per game average among active players and adds a veteran presence to the Stars second line. Nill also signed Ales Hemsky, who had 17 points in 20 games with Ottawa at the end of last season, giving coach Lindy Ruff a strong top 6 – especially if 19-year old Valeri Nichushkin continues to progress following a strong rookie campaign.
Centre Coady Eakin is also developing in to a very handy player for the club, while Ryan Garbutt impressed during his first full year with the team. If Rich Peverley can return to the line up, Dallas will have some useful veterans among their bottom 6; with veterans Erik Cole, Shawn Horcoff and Vern Fiddler also in the mix as well as crappy forward Antoine Roussel.
At The Back
Gritty veteran Stephane Robidas may have departed after more than a decade with the club, but Dallas blue line remains effective.
Alex Goligoski finally seemed to settle last season, registering 42 points and becoming a key part of the clubs transition game. If he can continue to learn from veteran Sergei Gonchar, once the premier offensive D man in the league, then Goligoski could be an integral part of the Stars future success.
30-year old Trevor Daley remains an unglamorous, but highly effective, member of the teams defence while Jordie Benn and RFA Brendon Dillon have both become key cogs in the machine.
Between The Pipes
Kari Lehtonen has been transformed from a talented, but oft injured, youngster to a bona fide NHL star since arriving in Dallas.
The 30-year old has been a rock in each of the past four seasons, posting 13 shut outs during that period, and his athleticism has made him a permanent fixture in the NHL highlight reels. A key part of the Stars revival over the past couple of years, Lehtonen is one of the leagues best puck stoppers and has the ability to be a Vezina winner some day.
6’6″ Andrers Lindback joins the club after a difficult two years in Tampa Bay.
Following a promising start to his career in Nashville, Lindback struggled with form and injuries in Florida and was released this summer after the Lightning opted not to tender a qualifying offer.
On a 1 year, $925K deal he has plenty to prove and could be the perfect #2 behind Lehtonen – if he can’t get it together, Dallas can just walk away next summer.
Behind The Bench
Lindy Ruff remains one of the most respected coaches in the game today.
The long time Buffalo Sabres coach is tactically astute and had a big hand in turning a largely unheralded roster in to a play-off team.
Biggest Addition – Jason Spezza
Away from the spotlight of the Canadian capital, Spezza provides Dallas with the kind of 1-2 punch all good clubs seem to have.
His $7m salary holds no fear for a franchise with plenty of cap to spare, and a 60+ point effort would be a huge boost to the teams post season aspirations.
Biggest Loss – Stephane Robidas
Whilst Dallas blue line is solid, Robidas played big minutes in key situations for the franchise.
The rugged defenceman was oft underrated on a franchise that struggled with financial issues, and despite injury issues last season was remarkably durable for most of his time in Texas.
The Stars didn’t seem to miss a step when he was traded last season, but a full season without the veteran will truly show how well this franchise really has moved forward.
Key Man – Tyler Seguin
You could just as easily nominate Jamie Benn as the key player on the Dallas roster; but Seguin’s emergence as one of the games most dynamic young players gives the franchise not only a go to centre, but another player they can market in an area which was some times been indifferent to the team, and sport.
This Seasons Chances…
The Central is the toughest of the bunch; but with an improved roster (and likely some regression from Colorado), a top three finish in the division is not out of the question.
If they can make it in, Dallas possess the kind of roster few will want to face in the post season now they’ve fleshed out their top 6.
Posted on September 8, 2014, in Dallas Stars, Hockey, NHL, Season Previews 2014 and tagged Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Kari Lehtonen, NHL, Season Preview, Tyler Seguin. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.