Time for the fourth of my annual Scouting the Central series, a look at the Central Division team-by-team, what they have done (or not done) to improve themselves (or not) in the offseason starting at the bottom of the division, we’ve done the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, and Colorado Avalanche… now it’s time for the team that took down the Predators in the first round last season, the Dallas Stars.
– 43-32-74 – 93 points, good for 4th in the Central Division and 6th in the Western Conference, capturing the first Wild Card spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs where they beat the Predators in the first round before falling to the St. Louis Blues in the second round.
Key stat(s) from last season
– 21% and 82.8% – That’s the special teams conversion numbers for the Stars, a team that really struggled to score goals 5 on 5, but their excellent special teams performance were key to this team making the playoffs.
- Jason Spezza, Julius Honka, Erik Condra, Martin Hanzal, Marc Methot, Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin
- Joe Pavelsky, Corey Perry, Andrej Sekera, Denis Gurianov
The BIG Question
- How close is this team to being a Stanley Cup contender? The Stars were inches away from eliminating the eventual Stanley Cup champs. Does that mean the team is inches away from being a true contender? I am not sure… this franchise has been wildly inconsistent for years, even while highly talented.
- For a team that had its best playoff performance in a long time, there was significant turnover. A lot of older veterans were replaced by… ummm… some slightly younger older veterans. Corey Perry may end up being a great value signing, Joe Pavelsky will certainly bring his brand of leadership to this Stars team… there are some nice younger players to augment the core of Benn, Radulov and Seguin. This team has been an enigma for years now, they always seem to be better on paper than their performance showed on the ice. Players like John Klingberg and Roope Hintz need to take it to the next level and this team needs to be better 5 on 5. The most interesting thing to watch for Dallas is their blueline. They will need Sekera and Stephen Johns fully healthy so they don’t need to rely on Roman Polak to contribute offensively. The other interesting storyline is between the pipes. Anton Khudobin and Ben B shop were lights out last season, can they do that again?
Best Case/Worst Case
- The best case scenario is that Dallas made all the right moves and contends for a division title (you’re going to see that a lot in these previews as I believe there could be five contenders for the Central crown) … the worst case for this team is that the goaltending returns to the mean, they don’t improve 5 on 5, the additions to this team fall on their face and the Dallas Stars fall out of the playoff race.
- There were a LOT of changes for a team that just came off a season where they almost lived up to the hype. That gives me pause. I really like the Corey Perry signing… the reason I know that is that I would’ve loved to see him in Nashville. He could be the value signing of the season as a motivated Perry will be a dangerous Perry if he has anything left in the tank. This should be a good team… I’m just not convinced of how good… expectations are high in the Lone Star State.
Next up, the St. Louis Blues
Random Notes – Presented by
- Training camp opens today!
- I am very curious to watch a few players from prospect camp as they move into actual training camp. It is one thing to dominate your age group, another to step it up against the big boys.
- I was incredibly impressed with Eeli Tolvanen. He seems to be a player on a mission. If his performance continues, he may make coach Peter Laviolette’s job difficult when it comes to cut down day.
- Another player that impressed me was Connor Ingram. He could really push for the starter’s job in Milwaukee.
- Looks like there will be a Blue/Gold scrimmage at Ford Ice Center on Sunday… stay tuned for details.
SlapShot Radio will be back for our 12th season as Zack, Brent and I will be moving the show to Monday night’s this year. The best hour of hockey talk on the longest running hockey show in the southeast will begin the season at 8pm and will settle into our normal 7pm slot after Thanksgiving… Monday’s on 102.5 the Game.
Our sponsor list continues to grow. Not only are we welcoming back Drs. Jane Bacon and Aileen Kruger at Hermitage Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
… make your appointment at (615) 872-7762 and Patrick J. Brown’s Farmer Insurance Agency in Mt. Juliet… I switched to them a few years back and their service has been incredible! Give Pat and his team a call at 615-288-2086. And of course… don’t forget our good friend Carter Church! Your Mufreesboro real estate expert with Weichert – The Andrews Group. And our newest sponsor… Cool Springs Wines and Spirits
! The largest spirit store in all of middle Tennessee! And now we also add the good folks at La-Z-Boy! Locally owned and operated, check out La-Z-Boy!
The new season promises to be the best yet and we get going on September 23rd.
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