Central Division: Dallas Stars Season Outlook

Central Division: Dallas Stars Season Outlook

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Dallas Stars Season Outlook
Dallas Stars 2017-18 Outlook

Forwards

The forwards will play a bit more of a two-way game under Ken Hitchcock. They will not have to chase the play so often. That was something which happened plenty last season.

Dallas was not quite a “Team Fun” last year mostly because of injuries and catastrophic goaltending/defense. Signing Alexander Radulov to a long-term deal should help at 5 on 5 and the power play. The Stars were awful in the second half on special teams in general.

Does the coaching staff pair Seguin and Benn together often? That is something which will be answered in training camp. On the other hand, Dallas has a bit more forward depth than last season. Guys like Shore, Faksa, and Ritchie gained a huge year of experience.

Will Benn and Seguin stay healthy? The team runs through them and needs 80+ games from both. Having players like Martin Hanzal and Jason Spezza help immensely. Janmark could be a fun wildcard with his immense speed. The Stars are better than most think.

Defense

The Stars blue line is a challenge as far as stopping the bleeding. However, the acquisition of Marc Methot and new err old coach Ken Hitchcock may help. 

The problem is, can the unit step up? Could they fare as poorly as last year? A lot of circumstances have to go poorly for this defense to be that bad. However, Methot and Klingberg are not an awful first pairing.

Dallas’s initial top six looks to be Klingberg, Methot, Johns, Hamhuis, Lindell, and Honka. Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth might compete for ice time. The top six is optimal here as far as offense.

We’ll see what happens during training camp because there could be a shakeup or two.

With some rearguard stability, expect the Stars forwards to have an easier time of things.

Goalies

After a trade for his rights, Ben Bishop was then signed to a long-term deal. The Stars have him until 2023, which means he is now the clear number one. Bishop went 18-15-5 last year split between Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. He will be 31 years old in November, but most think his .910 save percentage was a fluke in 2016-17. The goalie will see about as much of a shot load as he did in Tampa Bay.

Kari Lehtonen is almost 34 but is serviceable enough to either be a starter or backup. The Stars were horrendous on defense last year, and Lehtonen was hung out to dry often. Ken Hitchcock has good first seasons in locations, and a goaltending bounce back is likely. There is a reason for optimism in net for Dallas.

Questions

Looking ahead to trade deadline – if sellers who could be on the move, if buyers what area might they need to improve? Dallas still will be in the market for defensive help at the deadline. They will be mostly content with selling their forwards and picks unless injuries should occur.

What rookies could make the team? This is a tough question as most of the Stars’ slots are set. Honka technically qualifies as a rookie and that would be the safest answer. He will make strides in this defense because of those surrounding him. That makes a gigantic difference when it comes to development.

Which player could take a step forward this season? Without a doubt, it is Honka. If he can play some defense, that will keep Hitchcock from being tempted to bench him. The defenseman showed flashes of brilliance in 2016-17 and the ability to rush the puck up ice fast.

Which players could regress? Jason Spezza might be that player along with Martin Hanzal. Spezza’s age (approaching 35) is a concern, and younger players are ready to step up. For Hanzal, his possession metrics will take a hit. His fantasy production may be better, though.

Are there any training camp battles expected? The bottom roles will feature some serious battles. Watch the Stars and how they adapt to Hitchcock’s system. Those who do will have a leg up.

What sticks out about Dallas?  The Stars are in a fortunate position. They could be in line for a jump up the standings this year if they can stay healthy. Dallas could surprise significantly.