With the NHL season now less than a week away, we continue our look at what each team has done this summer and what to watch for in the year to come. Next up is a look at the Dallas Stars.
Last Season: 42-32-8 record (92 points), sixth in the Central Division (missed the playoffs)
Remaining Cap Space: $4,445,835 per CapFriendly
Key Additions: F Blake Comeau (free agent, Colorado), F Erik Condra (free agent, Tampa Bay), D Joel Hanley (free agent, Arizona), G Anton Khudobin (free agent, Boston), F Michael Mersch (free agent, Los Angeles), D Roman Polak (free agent, Toronto).
Key Subtractions: D Andrew Bodnarchuk (free agent, Red Bull Munchen, DEL), F Brian Flynn (free agent, St. Louis), D Dan Hamhuis (free agent, Nashville), G Mike McKenna (free agent, Ottawa), F Curtis McKenzie (free agent, Vegas), D Greg Pateryn (free agent, Minnesota), F Antoine Roussel (free agent, Vancouver),
[Related: Stars Depth Chart From Roster Resource]
Player To Watch: F Tyler Seguin — The Stars have placed all their faith in Seguin to lead the team to the playoffs and beyond this summer when they signed the 26-year-old to an eight-year, $78.8MM extension this summer. While that $9.85MM AAV doesn’t kick in until the 2019-20 season, the team hopes that Seguin is finally ready to take that next step as an NHL elite player.
The center did post a 40-goal season for the first time in his career, but he has only surpassed 80 points once in his career. While he is expected to man the top line once again alongside veteran Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, the team hopes he can take that next step and be a consistent 80 or 90-point player the team truly needs.
Key Storyline: What the team needs more than anything is secondary depth at forward. While the first line was impressive offensively, the remaining lines were the opposite of that as few players stepped up and showed they can score goals. The team had hopes last year that players such as Radek Faksa, Brett Ritchie, Jason Spezza and Martin Hanzal would make up the remaining bulk of the scoring, but none of them did. While Faksa’s defensive game took big strides, he still posted just 33 points last season. Ritchie was even worse, posting just seven goals and 14 points. Spezza’s game went down as well, going from 50 points in 2016-17 to 26 points last year, while Hanzal struggled with injuries all season.
This year, the team has hopes that they can get a solid return from 23-year-old Valeri Nichushkin, who played the last two years in the KHL, and now returns. They still hope Spezza can bounce back, while the team has high hopes that Mattias Janmark, Faksa, Tyler Pitlick and Comeau can increase that scoring. Whether that will happen is questionable as Nichushkin put up very pedestrian numbers in the KHL while he was away, so assuming he posts big numbers seems unlikely, while the 35-year-old Spezza will have to prove that the game hasn’t passed him by.
Overall Outlook: While the goaltending seems to be more solidified as the team replaced backup Kari Lehtonen with Khudobin, who should be a better stopgap if starter Ben Bishop goes down with another inconvenient injury and a much stronger defense with the addition of 19-year-old Miro Heiskanen and a more confident Julius Honka, the team has a solid defense behind him. Add in a new coach in Jim Montgomery, the team has a lot of promise, but where that offense will come from is a question that the team will have to prove if they have any chance in competing in a very competitive Central Division.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.