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2018-2019 NHL Preview: Dallas Stars

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Three seasons, three coaches, by and large same roster otherwise.

Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Thirteenth up are the Dallas Stars (been in the NHL for 25 years) who had an electric season in 2015-2016 finishing 1st in the Central and losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues. Since then they have not finished better than 6th in their division.

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats:

NHL Standings: 19th
Goals for Rank: 18th
Goals against Rank: 7th
PP Rank: 19th
PK Rank: 14th

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 19th
Western Conference Standings: 10th
Pacific Division Standings: 5th
Coach: Jim Montgomery (Nothing in the NHL; 125-57-26 regular season and 79-38-16 with Denver University)

Overview:

After that great run in 2015-2016 I bit hard, I assumed they would be the new powerhouse going forward in the West but since then they have shown that to be an outlier season. The struggles led to Lindy Ruff (who I greatly respect) being ousted and then in stepped Ken Hitchcock who also lasted one season before being let go. In steps Jim Montgomery who joins David Hakstol and Jared Bednar as NCAA turned pro coaches. I don’t want to make the mistake that these three are one and the same and each situation will work out the same, instead I’m fascinated with how each path works within the dynamics of each team. I think Jim Montgomery is a great coach, but unlike Hakstol who saw immediate success and then a downturn, I think Jim will see a slower but steadier rise to a long term good program. I’ve mentioned this once or twice before but the top line for the stars is exciting, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry or Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson Dany Heatley kind of exciting. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov should prove to be a top 5 line in the NHL this year. Despite being 30% of the teams shots on goal, they make up 45% of the teams goals, 38% of their points and 64% of their power play goals. It’s not exclusive to their offense either, on defense Esa Lindell had a breakout campaign last year and John Klingberg broke out two years ago, together they are an offensive power house; however, after that it drops off. Miro Heiskanen, Julius Honka, Marc Methot and Stephen Johns aren’t he worst defenseman but I would put them all at sub-average. The thing that their defensemen do well is block shots and hits, the following players all had over 82 hits and 82 blocked shots last year: Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns and Greg Pateryn. One other player had it, but Dan Hamhuis who had 123 blocked shots and 82 hits, signed with the Predators in free agency meaning a few more are coming through against Ben Bishop or Kari Lehtonen. Speaking of Ben and Kari, they were average in net, I have yet to see the brilliance that Ben had in Tampa Bay but they are stable enough to keep the team in games (albeit with the 4th fewest shots against in the league).

Major Additions:

Valeri Nichuskin (in that he’s back from his time in the KHL with CSKA)

Major Subtractions:

Dan Hamhuis, Antoine Roussel

Prospects and Picks:

-Jake Oettinger. The Boston University prospect is notable in that he is the ONLY goalie taken in the first round in the last three years. He has had back to back good seasons in the NCAA winning 21 games both years with a sv % .915+ and a GAA under 2.5. Goalies notoriously take a long time and can be very finicky in the process when transitioning to the pros so it will probably be at least another year or two before we see him in the big league but I would argue he is the most exciting goalie prospect in my eyes currently in the NHL.

-Ty Dellandrea. Selected 13th overall in this year’s draft, Ty was just the third center taken in what was a much more wing and defense heavy draft. He had his work cut out from him last year with the Firebirds who started last season off 0-9 and then later trading away two of their best players. Carrying much of the load by himself, Ty scored 27 goals and put up 59 point across 67 games. He has a quick release, skates hard and reads the ice well but it remains to be seen if he would stay at center in the NHL level or go to a wing spot.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Valeri Nichushkin. Keeping in mind he’s just 23 and has a lot of hockey ahead of him, Valeri was drafted 2013 10th overall and was entering as a top prospect for the organization. 2013-2014 he had 14 goals and 34 points, his 2nd year was limited to a handful of games due to hip and groin soreness. He had a respectively disappointing third season scoring 9 goals and putting up 29 points in 79 games. Negotiations came to a standstill as an RFA and he went to the KHL to play for CSKA Moscow where he has scored 27 goals and put up 61 points across 86 games over two seasons. He comes back and will likely sit on a 2nd line with Jason Spezza and Radek Faksa which is so/so but he is looking like the 5th player on their power play and anytime you can be on a power play unit with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg you will get the benefit of a point bump.

Cap Situation:

$56MM Spent; $19M in Cap room; 13 players signed; average team age 27.