Like many other teams in 2017-18, the Dallas Stars have struggled with injuries early on this season. The team has lost 55 man-game thus far, and while the total is not overwhelming, 37 of those games are due to the condition of two players. That pair is defenseman Marc Methot and center Martin Hanzal, both off-season additions to the Stars. Methot and Hanzal were expected to be a major reason for the predicted bounce-back season for Dallas, a team who many felt “won the off-season”. Yet, the duo have played in just one game together since October and the Stars have underwhelmed thus far without them.
That will all change starting tonight, as the Stars reported the return of Methot and Hanzal, calling the team “as healthy as it’s been”. Both players are expected to be back at full health and ready to contribute to their full extent. Methot, who was acquired via trade from the Vegas Golden Knights after his selection in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft from the Ottawa Senators, has missed the last 24 games with a knee injury. Methot is not an offensive juggernaut, but provides a solid defensive effort that Dallas often lacks. Hanzal, a physical, two-way forward, will also impact team defense. Hanzal has missed 13 games off-and-on this season with a variety of ailments including hamstring and hand injuries. His play has clearly been impacted by injury as well, as Hanzal has just six points in 26 games and a -11 rating. A player capable of 40 points – part of the reason he earned a three-year, $14.25MM deal this summer – Hanzal is hoping to have a greater impact on the score sheet moving forward.
Currently fourth in the Central Division, the Stars are far from out of playoff contention at the season’s midpoint. With games coming up against the New Jersey Devils tonight and Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the team has a chance to pick up some points before their bye week, during which they can really get everyone back to full strength. However, the health of Methot and Hanzal will surely continue to be worth watching as the season continues. In fact, Dallas’ playoff hopes may rest on it, even with the plethora of other talent on the roster. The potential impact that Methot and Hanzal can have on team defense cannot be understated.