The Dallas Stars are in a precarious position due to a number of factors writes Mike Heika. Besieged by injury, and seemingly in some form of hockey purgatory, Heika begins his column with prose:
The Stars are neither fish nor fowl.
They are not fast, yet they are not slow.
They are not young, yet they are not old.
They are not tough, yet they are not weak.
The Stars have been an enigma this season, expected to build on last year’s successes while bringing along a lot of the young, speedy talent that seemed ready to carry the team. Instead, Heika writes that the injuries to Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky altered the plan to include bigger, and albeit slower, forwards. Additionally, a more veteran blue line gave way for youth, which includes a learning curve as it acclimates to NHL talent.
Heika adds that with the uncertainty of the youth delivering, comes the unknowns associated with the 2017 offseason where a number of unrestricted free agents are set to be re-signed or hit the market. Those names include Patrick Sharp, Patrick Eaves, Jiri Hudler, Johnny Oduya, Adam Cracknell and Hemsky. Throw in what many analysts observe as a “shaky” goaltending tandem in Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, and Heika indicates there’s yet another aspect of the team that may see change. Finally, head coach Lindy Ruff is in the final year of his contract.
What does it all mean? The Stars are a team in “no man’s land” according to Heika. Ruff put the team through a tough practice and indicated that the way through the inconsistency was to keep working. Heika is convinced it’s the one way that Dallas can determine what they’re truly made of.
In other Western Conference news:
- Montreal needs help up front and Arizona’s Martin Hanzal may be just the the man to solve their problems writes Navin Vaswani. The 29-year-old could be had for a young NHL ready forward and Vaswani believes Phillip Danault could do the trick. But Vaswani adds that Marc Bergevin isn’t forced to make a trade at all. Pierre LeBrun tweets that he isn’t sure if the Habs’ interest in Hanzal has spiked since the injuries to Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais. What he does indicate, is that regardless of what decision they make, injuries are part of the game and the Habs–whether they make a deal or not–must find a way to survive the injuries. LeBrun also adds that Arizona may still make a run at re-signing Hanzal.