The Fansided NHL Network, that SenShot is proud to be a member of, is embarking on its NHL preview. Each day in September, one of its members will be posting a preview for their club. SenShot will look at their preview, and let you have a look. After that, we will provide our own perspective. Jared will handle the Western Conference teams while Tony will look at the East.
The Dallas Stars missed out on the playoffs by a mere 2 points last season, and a final evening loss to the Minnesota Wild kept them from the post-season. The departure of Brad Richards dealt a blow to the fortunes of the franchise, as it would to any team losing its best player.
Blackout Dallas offers up their preview of the Stars for the coming season.
While a lot has changed this offseason for the Stars, the expectations for this team to get back to their former ways have not. For the Stars some of the changes happened right away. A new coach in Glen Gulutzan coming up from the Stars’ AHL team and taking over as head coach after the firing of Marc Crawford (thank you Joe!) started the summer off for the team. Of course what followed shortly after was not what most of the fanbase wanted, but most of us knew it was coming. GM Joe Nieuwendyk fought and tried a wait-and-see approach with new ownership that never came, and eventually had to just let the team’s top offensive threat go. Brad Richards is now of course residing somewhere in NYC as he prepares to play for the New York Rangers for probably the remainder of his career, and the Stars are now down on all-star.
So much of the focus this summer has been that Dallas lost Richards and looks to be at another stage of change by the outside media and world. While it is true and the team is going to miss Richards, it is not like everything left. The Stars were not expected by many to do much the last two seasons while he was here, so why is it pick on Dallas time since he is gone? The forwards are still going to feature a few all-star veterans in Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro on the top pairing and then rely on continued growth from a great young core. Loui Eriksson looks to lead the way after really coming into his own over the last couple of seasons and finally getting some really attention last season. Fan favorite and budding young talent Jamie Benn will be called upon to take the next step this season and looks to have all the tools to do so. I know everyone is putting pressure on his growth and that he “needs” to be the next big thing, but he already almost is and with a little more growth and more playing time now, I think he will be fine.
Click here to read the entire Stars preview.
Follow Blackout Dallas’ Lead writer, Austin Waldron on Twitter here.
Here’s SENSHOT’S take on the Stars upcoming season:
The Stars are a team that will be treading water until they get their ownership situation resolved. GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s hands are tied, which facilitated the departure of Richards.
Mike Ribeiro is a decent #2 centre, but I don’t think he is capable of shouldering the load of a #1 centre. Brendan Morrow is a leader and the top goal scorer, while Loui Eriksson is a solid two way presence. The Stars brought in some new blood (Michael Ryder, Vern Fiddler, Radek Dvorak), but they collectively likely won’t be able to make up for the loss of Richards.
The defense is a strength of the club, with the addition of Alex Goligoski late last season. Sheldon Souray is the big wild card, as his stint in the minors after being exiled from Edmonton may have dulled his compete level. Souray could be a weapon on the power play, but at 35 years old and not having played a lot of NHL hockey in the past 2 years he might not be able to get back to the level that he showed in his prime.
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s injury problems seem to be behind him, and his 34 wins last season tied a career high.
The Stars are by no means a lock to make the playoffs, and they might struggle offensively to replace Richards’ playmaking ability. However, they are deeper on the back end and that could be enough to push the club into the playoffs.
Check back tomorrow, when we will look at the Detroit Red Wings.
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