Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2018 Pool Projections: Dallas

The Dallas Stars pretty well played out on the ice, what they looked like on paper in the 2017 season, a team that had the tools to score goals, but didn't seemingly have enough to win a lot of games.  The Stars have acknowledged their short comings of a season ago and went out to do something about it, adding some key players at key positions and changing the culture and appearance of this team.

Shoring up their defense and trying to commit to a new number one goalie were the top focus points in the off-season and the Stars did pretty well at that, one would have to believe.  Adding a stalwart in Marc Methot to the blueline, drafting an all-around good defender in Miro Heiskanen and then acquiring goaltender Ben Bishop really changed the complexion of this team and now we can add them into the Central Division chase conversation.

And what about all that scoring they had?  Well, they may have added to it quite well, signing free agents like Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal, they could be a real handful to deal with at both ends of the ice now.

The Stars were certainly a team that was in real need of a solid shake-up within their organization and they did that in spades.

Player Pos 17/18 Proj Rookie
Jamie Benn F 75 N
Tyler Seguin F 75 N
Ben Bishop G 70 N
Jason Spezza F 60 N
Alexander Radulov F 60 N
John Klingberg D 55 N
Martin Hanzal F 40 N
Radek Faksa F 35 N
MattIas Janmark F 35 N
Devin Shore F 30 N
Antoine Roussel F 25 N
Brett Ritchie F 25 N
Miro Heiskanen D 25 Y
Kari Lehtonen G 25 N
Julius Honka D 20 Y
Marc Methot D 15 N
Dan Hamhuis D 15 N
Esa Lindell D 15 N
Brian Flynn F 10 N
Adam Cracknell F 10 N
Patrik Nemeth D 10 N
Greg Pateryn D 10 N
Tyler Pitlick F 5 N

Table last updated on August 5th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

The Stars tried the platoon system for a couple of years and it didn't work.  Dallas still has two high paid goaltenders on their roster, but the assumption is that Ben Bishop will indeed be the guy for this team moving forward and he's the favourite to eat up a lot of minutes in the Big D this year.

The big keeper didn't exactly get the bulk of the starts between Tampa Bay and Los Angeles last season, only appearing in 39 games between the two cities, but the 2016 season, he was good for 61 appearances and winning 35 games, so the Stars know what he has accomplished in the league already.

The Stars have been bad defensively in the last couple of seasons and Bishop would have had his work cut out for him, if the didn't go out and get more hard working talent for the blueline, but he should be in much safer hands this year and the Stars could end up being pretty good with their new goalie.

First Round Picks

Confidence and health will be the two biggest factors ahead of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin's 2018 season, both factors they can certainly regain and then regain their scoring form.  I wouldn't be confident in saying that both of them will be taken in the opening round of this year's draft, but there's a fine chance that one of them will.  If the other slips down a round, he would make for a pretty darn good pick.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The Stars should be well stocked up front, adding Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal to the mix, getting Mattias Janmark back from injury and then a couple players from last year's pool worthy crew, Jason Spezza and Radek Faksa.  Devin Shore was pool worthy last season, but going into his second full season with the Stars, it's one of those projections that suggest that the jinx could be hanging around every corner.  He certainly could be a hidden gem this year.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

The defensive adjustments made in this off-season should benefit keeping the puck out of their own net, more than it should aiding to score more goals.  Still, with a little bit of help, John Klingberg should return to form, while 2014 1st rounder Julius Honka could be coming around to help out the offense.  Their 2017 1st round pick, Miro Heiskanen, has some real potential to be an all-around defender and if he can crack this team, he could put up some good pool points.

Goaltending Situation

I'm a bit surprised that the projections didn't boost Ben Bishop into the 1st round, but I still don't think they've done enough in the way of improvements to guarantee him all the wins he needs to be an opening round pick.  I do also see the coaching staff splitting up the minutes well, so Kari Lehtonen remains a pool worthy goalie in the 2018 season.

Team To Pick From Late?

If the Stars can find their offensive game, throughout their lineup, then yes, definitely, they will be a good team to gamble with late on in the draft.  Brett Ritchie and Antoine Roussel have pool upside, if it all clicks, not to mention Dan Hamhuis on the blueline.  If you're willing to take the risk, the Stars can be a high reward team.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The Stars won't re-sign Valeri Nichushkin until his contract is up in Russia, which is still another season away, but it sounds like he's coming.  They still have his rights, so it's all good for them there.  Otherwise, the Stars don't have anyone of any real importance left to take care of this summer.

That's a good thing, because they have very little usable space left.  With the current projected roster I have for them at this point in the summer, they only have $254,000 left.  That's a slight upgrade somewhere, at best.

Injuries

After the 2017 season had concluded, forward Tyler Seguin underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.  With no playoffs in the spring for the Stars, Seguin had ample time to heal up and get ready for the upcoming season.  It should be fair to think that he'll be ready to go for training camp in a few weeks.
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