September 11, 2013 by andymisek
Cup & Pucks Contributor
The Dallas Stars went through a bit of a makeover this off-season. The Stars acquired some young blood and changed their logo and jerseys. The logo is sleek and modern, and provides a fresh touch for the team. The organization is on the rise, and with a restocked prospect pool, they are poised to make a run at the playoffs. We have Dallas at #20 on our NHL Season Countdown.
This off-season was a busy one: the Stars named Jim Nill the general manager. Nill made his first mark on the team by naming Lindy Ruff the head coach. Ruff will add much needed stability to the bench. He is 571-432 holding the reigns and coached the Buffalo Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999. Ruff has had only one team finish below the .500 mark in his coaching career.
The Stars made a few moves as this offseason trading for Shawn Horcoff and Sergei Gonchar’s rights (Signed a two year extension with the Stars). The biggest move was a seven player blockbuster, which brought Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin to Dallas in exchange for Louis Eriksson and prospects Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow.
The Stars also drafted Valeri Nichushkin in the first round. A prospect that will add size to the Stars line up. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Nichuskin make a jump to the NHL this season.
The Stars were just outside of the top ten last season when it came to scoring goals (11th), averaging 2.76 goals per game. They added to their scoring threats by adding Peverley and Seguin. The first line could be deadly, with Seguin down the middle and Peverley and Jamie Benn on the wings. All three are capable of 25 goal seasons and 60 to 70 points. Benn has regressed a bit as he only scored 12 goals last season.
The other forwards will definitely need to step it up this season as Ray Whitney, Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole will all need to improve on last years’s numbers. Whitney and Horcoff had decent seasons last year, and with a full season should return to their normal production rates. Cole however fell off the map with his lackluster numbers. He scored 6 goals and recorded one assist in 28 games. For this team to go anywhere Cole has to get it going and take pressure off the top line.
To improve on defense, in which they ranked #24 last season, the Stars picked up Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar will add some depth and size to the lineup. Other than Gonchar, there are no changes to the core of the defense with Alex Goligoski, Brenden Dillon, Stephane Robidas, Jamie Oleksiak and Trevor Daley all returning. All of the aforementioned are steady defensemen who managed to stay on the positive end of the plus-minus statistic category. As long as they improve in their own end, they should be a better unit.
There is not much to say here as Kari Lehtonen has proven that he is the franchise goaltender. He finished last season with a 2.66 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. He will need to replicate those numbers this season and there is no reason to think that he won’t be able to. Dan Ellis will be joining the Stars and will be a more than capable backup. He will add stability to the position as the team waits for Jack Campbell to develop.
This season should be exciting for the Stars. They should have a decent shot at making the playoffs with there current roster. While we predict they will fall short, the young core Dallas is building around should provide a promising future. They have made improvements on offense and on defense that should improve the team. If you’re a Stars fan look for tickets at the American Airlines Center to start selling out. The team is much improved and will be exciting to watch this year.