Monday, April 27, 2009

Pool Outlook for Dallas

The Stars had their fair share of problems over the past season, with inconsistent goaltending and long-term injuries to key players. Those problems cost the team a lot of wins that would have jumped them into the playoff picture, but that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. The Stars, with all of their winning troubles, didn't manage to have a player over 80 points, which should keep the team out of any consideration in the first round of a draft next season.

Mike Ribeiro did come the closest to an 80-point season, finishing with 78 points in all 82 games. In the pool rankings, he did finish in 30th spot. Ribeiro has been fairly consistent since coming to Dallas and has become a very good early round pick in any fantasy pool. In 2008, Ribeiro finished the year 18th in the pool rankings and a slight dip down to 30th shouldn't necessarily hurt his chances at going high, but it is something to consider.

Despite the downturn in Dallas, there are some good signs coming out of it all. Loui Eriksson led the team in goal scoring with 36 (63 points in 82 GP) and he showed that there are signs of life beyond Brad Richards and Brendan Morrow (both are players that missed a significant amount of time this year). There was a little bit more in the 'stepping-up' department, as Steve Ott managed to move up to 46 points and James Neal appeared on the scene (37 points in 77 GP), including 24 goals. There were plenty of positives to go along with the negatives up front, which means the Stars could be a very offensively potent team in 2010.

On defense, the bad news was fairly significant, as Sergei Zubov was nowhere to be seen for the bulk of the season. That does hamper Zubov's overall fantasy value here, thinking that his hip injuries could very well be career-threatening, especially if surgery is the word that keeps popping into everyone's mind. Zubov's injury did open the door for Matt Niskanen (35 points in 80 GP), who could very well be a good prospect for seasons to come.

The Stars didn't make the playoffs, but Marty Turco did remain in the top 50 in pool players this season, with 33 wins, 3 shutouts and 5 assists, bringing his point total to 77 points. That isn't half bad for a pool goalie, especially with the slow parts of the season that the Stars struggled through. The Stars really did ride their number one goalie through the season, as Tobias Stephan and Matt Climie did not see much action as the back-ups for the year. Turco does keep his solid reputation as a number one goalie for another year.

2010 Season Outlook
Looking at the team structure, see below, the Stars are one of the better built teams heading into the summer, with 17 players signed on from the season passed. Again, the team needs to be healthy to succeed and be a great team full of fantasy players, but injuries are the hardest to predict. As you can see below, there are not a lot of holes to be filled, but there is a good chance that they will be a big player this summer.

Mike RibeiroMatt NiskanenMarty Turco
Loui ErikssonStephane Robidas
Brad RichardsTrevor Daley
Steve OttNiklas Grossman
Mike ModanoAndrew Hutchinson
James Neal
Fabian Brunnstrom
Brian Sutherby
Brendan Morrow
Toby Petersen
Krys Barch

The 17 players above have an overall cap hit of approximately $40.5 million, which is astoundingly low for a team with top flight players already attached to it. The team also has a good number of young players waiting in the wings for their chance, which their low entry-level deals could increase the chances of the Stars landing a big name to their roster.

Of course, the team will have to manage through some of the UFA's, including Sergei Zubov, who had a cap hit last season of $5.35 million. If the market price remains about the same and he can remain healthy, the Stars will really have a good team on their hands in the Fall. Other UFA's of note include Brendan Morrison, Jere Lehtinen, Darryl Sydor, Steve Begin, Mark Parrish and Joel Lundqvist.

On the RFA list for the summer includes both back-up goalies used this season, Tobias Stephan & Matt Climie, Chris Conner and Mark Fistric. Fistric could be the most pressing of the bunch, as the team will want to sure him up on the blueline for another year.

The Stars have one player who will be out to knock some socks off this coming season and that's Jamie Benn. Benn has to be considered one of the blue chip prospects that can't miss. If you are able to have a good look at his numbers throughout rookie camp, training camp and the pre-season, you may find that Benn could be a candidate for the Calder Trophy, thanks to his keen hands and goal-scoring ability. He should give John Tavares a good run for his money on an already talented Dallas Stars team.

There is plenty to be excited about in Dallas, especially from a pool perspective. With players like Brad Richards, Brendan Morrow and Sergei Zubov hiding among the mediocre players on the 2009 scoring list, they could be very good finds at your next Draft. A season under the belt of Fabian Brunnstrom should help his fantasy stock price a bit, while there are some new names to consider from the team, including Steve Ott. If I didn't have such club allegiances in the West, it wouldn't be so hard for me to pick Dallas Stars on my pool team, but at the right pick, they could all be a steal and that's how you can win your pool quite easily. Keep an eye on those Stars!

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