Ah, Dallas. The team that, like Buffalo, seem to narrowly miss the playoffs every year, and like nobody, seem to lose their star Center to Free Agency because we refuse to accept any trades. But in this, a shortened season, could luck change for the Stars, and give their fans a playoff run?
Dallas weren’t shy in Free Agency, signing veteran wingers Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, as well as signing defensemen Aaron Rome and Tyler Sloan to cover for losing forwards Adam Burish (San Jose), Jake Dowell (Minnesota), and veteran Sheldon Souray (Anaheim). But the big impact was made by Dallas in trading. Their leader of sorts on the ice, Steve Ott, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, along with D Adam Pardy for C Derek Roy. Roy should help with an offense that was 30th on the PP last season, but losing Ott shows that the Stars may be leaning away from the toughness mentality they’ve developed over the past few seasons.
Also departing was Mike Ribeiro. The 60-point scorer from last season, was sent to the Washington Capitals, in exchange for C Cody Eakin and a 2nd Round pick (Mike Winther). Ribeiro hadn’t scored less than 50 points in the last eight seasons, but was traded in a shake-up that not only affected the Forwards. D Mark Fistric was also traded to the Edmonton Oilers for a Third Round pick in the 2013 Draft. This leaves Dallas with a somewhat inexperienced defensive core, centred around Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski and the oldest defensive player on the roster at 35, Stephane Robidas. Dallas need upcoming players like Jordie Benn, Philip Larsen and Brendon Dillon to step up and make it to the next level, and aspiring stars like Jamie Oleksiak to be ready in the wings when called upon.
The Goaltending however, is something that the Stars won’t have to worry about for years to come. Kari Lehtonen may be 29, but he is in that group along with Jimmy Howard (Detroit), and Antti Niemi (San Jose) of great Goalies, but not as elite as the likes of Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles). Richard Bachman is a more than capable Backup, and with arguably the replacement G for Ryan Miller in Team USA in Jack Campbell applying his trade at the AHL-Affiliate Texas Stars, the Goaltending looks locked in for the next ten to fifteen years.
The big question remains, can the Stars, with all the moves made in the off-season, make the playoffs? The inclusion of Jagr and Whitney should improve the Stars offensively, especially on the Powerplay where they were ranked last overall last season, but can the up and coming defensive unit of the Stars, help them get across the line? The Stars will be one of those teams fighting for that seventh and eighth spot come playoff time, but it all depends on one thing. Re-sign Jamie Benn before the season starts, and they make it. Don’t re-sign Jamie Benn before the season starts, and I’m afraid the Stars may just miss out again.
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