Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dallas Stars 2019-20 season preview



         Good goaltending proved to be the answer to the Stars' issues. Ben Bishop was nothing special in his first year, but was a Vezina finalist in his second year, and Anton Khudobin had a good season as a backup. Getting inconsistent goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi out of the crease over the last two seasons helped, even though the two led a 109 point team in 2015-16, even though they were terrible. The Stars made it back to the playoffs in 2018-19, and took down Nashville in the first round, before losing a heartbreaking game 7 in the second round to the eventual champs, the Blues. The team had a good offseason, as they hope to make it back to the playoffs.

          Additions: Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, Andrej Sekera, Scottie Upshall (PTO)

          Subtractions: Mats Zuccarello, Jason Spezza, Tyler Pitlick, Brett Ritchie, Ben Lovejoy, Valeri Nichuskin, Marc Methot

          Forwards
Tyler Seguin had 80 points for the second time in his career, and scored 33 goals, while signing an extension mid season. He is centering an elite first line. Alex Radulov scored 72 points for the second consecutive season, and scored a career high 29 goals, and in just 70 games. Jamie Benn had the worst season since he was a rookie in 2009-10, with 53 points. His .68 points per game were the second lowest in his career, to 09-10. After the first line, the offense tailed off. That's why Joe Pavelski was brought in. Even though he is 35, the former Sharks captain scored 38 goals last year, and is one of the, if not best, puck deflectors in the league. Radek Faksa has had 30 points three seasons in a row, with 15 goals and 15 assists last year. Former Hart winner Corey Perry arrives in Dallas after a 14 year tenure in Anaheim ended with a buyout. Perry had a career worst 10 points in 31 games last year. He's a six time 30 goal scorer. Roope Hintz scored 22 points in a 58 game rookie season, and was impressive in the playoffs, with eight points in 13 games. Mattias Janmark went from 19 goals in 2017-18 to six in 2018-19. His 19 assists were a career high. Andrew Cogliano was terrible after a trade from Anaheim, with six points in 32 games, averaging just 11:39 a night. Jason Dickinson had 22 points in 67 games, and was a +9. In his first season in Dallas, Blake Comeau scored seven goals in 77 games, and averaged over two minutes on the penalty kill. A high draft pick in the outstanding 2015 draft, Denis Gurianov has yet to prove himself at the NHL level. He has just four points in 22 career games. He scored 20 goals in 58 AHL games, and has improved defensively. This could be Gurianov's year.

            Defensemen
Perhaps the biggest two snubs at the NHL Awards this year were both from Stars. The first one was that Miro Heiskanen wasn't a Calder finalist. Heiskanen was hurt by his -14 rating, but he scored 12 goals with 33 points and was a great defender. He was very impressive in the playoffs, averaging 25:31 minutes a game. And he was just 19, and was a defenseman, a position that doesn't see many teenagers. Proven number one defenseman John Klingberg had 45 points, and that was a disappointment, coming after a 67 point season. But he played in just 64 games, and his points per 60 minutes of 1.72 was 12th among defensemen with 60 games played. Esa Lindell scored a career high 11 goals and 32. He was also a +14, averaging over 24 minutes a night, finishing 18th in Norris voting. The oft-injured Andrej Sekera comes to Dallas on a one year deal. He hasn't scored a goal over the last two seasons, and has missed more games (104) then played in (60). He was good in his last full season, 2016-17. Stephen Johns will hopefully return from head injuries. He missed all of 2018-19. He scored a career high eight goals and was a +10 in a promising 2017-18. Jamie Oleksiak returned to Dallas, and played in 21 games that didn't stand out. Roman Polak re-signed. He was a +6 in 77 games last year. At age 30, Taylor Fedun had a career season after a trade from Buffalo. He had a career high 11 points in 54 games.

              Goalies
The other big snub from the Awards was that Ben Bishop didn't win the Vezina Trophy, finishing second instead. He had a .934 SV% and a 1.98 GAA, the former leading the league. He had a career high seven shutouts. Anton Khudobin served as a good backup, with a .923 SV%.

              Deep Depths
Justin Dowling has three assists in 20 career NHL games. Julius Honka, a 2014 1st rounder, has fallen in the depth chart, and has been very disappointing. He had just four assists in 29 NHL games last year. Joel Hanley played in 16 games for Dallas last year. He had 28 points as a defenseman in 60 AHL games. Dillon Heatherington played in five NHL games last year, and one in the playoffs.

              Up and Coming
A 2017 second rounder, Jason Robertson has excelled up to the top prospect spot thanks to an outstanding OHL season. He scored 25 goals with 79 points in just 38 games after a trade to Niagara, and 48 goals overall. He should make his NHL debut this year. Riley Tufte, a former 1st rounder, had a rough season at Duluth. Top goalie prospect Jake Oettinger enters his first full pro season in the AHL after posting a .926 SV% at Boston University. Ty Dellandrea was a point per game player in the OHL, and played in 11 AHL games. Defenseman Gavin Bayreuther scored five points in 19 NHL games.

              2019 draft class
Round 1, 18th overall: Thomas Harley
Round 4, 111th overall: Samuel Sjolund
Round 5, 142nd overall: Nicholas Porco
Round 6, 173rd overall: Benjamin Brinkman

              Management
Jim Montgomery had a good first season as Stars' Head Coach, dealing with many injuries. Former nine year NHL veteran Jim Nill has made some good moves, trading for Tyler Seguin and the rights to Ben Bishop, signing Alex Radulov and Bishop, and drafting Jamie Benn, Miro Heiskanen and  John Klinberg.

              Projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov
Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski - Denis Gurianov
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Corey Perry
Jason Dickinson - Andrew Cogliano - Blake Comeau
Extras: Justin Dowling, Jason Robertson
           
             Esa Lindell -  John Klingberg
             Miro Heiskanen - Stephen Johns
             Andrej Sekera - Roman Polak
Extras: Jamie Oleksiak, Taylor Fedun, Gavin Bayreuther

                         Ben Bishop
                         Anton Khudobin
Extras: Landon Bow, Jake Oettinger

               Prediction
The Stars may not appear to be a powerhouse, but they are a very underrated team, with two of the top defensemen in the league and a very good one in Lindell. I predict the Stars to finish first in the Central Division in 2019-20.

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