The Dallas Stars have made some significant upgrades to their team. There are many new additions to this team, as they’ll hope to bounce back after a disappointing campaign last year.
Martin Hanzal (C)
Martin Hanzal will be on his third team in two seasons, as he signed a lucrative three-year $14.25 million contract with the Dallas Stars. He was with the Minnesota Wild after he and Ryan White were traded to the State of Hockey before the trade deadline. He was essentially a rental player for the Wild, in hope that he could help them advance further in the playoffs.
That didn’t happen. The Wild were eliminated rather handily by the St. Louis Blues in five games. Thus, the Wild saw no need to attempt to sign Hanzal to another contract, and he became a free agent. The Stars can use his big body (6’6″, 226lb) to congest the front of the opponent’s net and check the larger centers in the NHL.
The problem with that is Hanzal is injury prone and has missed about one-quarter of the games he was eligible to play due to mostly lower body injuries. The joke when he was with the Arizona Coyotes was if he is blocking so many shots with his lower body and getting injured constantly maybe he should have some lower body armor to protect him.
The Czech should be a good addition IF he can stay healthy. To reiterate, that has been his struggle. Dallas bit the bullet with a large contract, so they are definitely banking on Hanzal being in the lineup for as many games as possible.
Ben Bishop (G)
Ben Bishop was acquired… believe it or not for a fourth round draft pick from the Los Angeles Kings. L.A. didn’t want to pay his $4.9 million cap hit, and they knew Jonathan Quick would be back in his net this season after recovering from a season-long leg injury. At 6’7″, 216lb Bishop takes up a lot of space in the crease and has some really good statistics.
His 148-80-25 record with a .919 save percentage and a 2.32 goals against average is more than adequate to help the struggling Stars. The problem for the Stars has been their penalty-kill which was dead last in the NHL last season. If they can’t kill off penalties, it could be a long season for Bishop in between the pipes.
Alexander Radulov (RW)
Alexander Radulov was a well sought after free agent who finally signed with the Dallas Stars for $6.25 million a season on a five-year deal. He will more than likely be placed on the first-line along with snipers Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. That could be a dynamo offensive line for the Dallas Stars. The problem has never been if the Stars could score, but rather can they defend?
Radulov is an exceptional playoff player. He had seven points in six playoff games for Montreal last season, and that can be duplicated if the Dallas Stars figure out how to get to the playoffs.
They gave up 3.17 goals a game last season, and that must change if they hope to be playing in the post season.
Marc Methot (D)
The Dallas Stars acquired Marc Methot from Vegas for G Dylan Ferguson and a 2020 second-round draft pick. Methot was not protected by the Ottawa Senators, and the Vegas Golden Knights grabbed him, but just to keep as trade bait to acquire future draft picks. He should help bolster the weak Stars’ defense. He is a stay-at-home style defenseman and should help bring down the goals against for the Dallas team.
At 6’3″, 220lbs, he isn’t afraid to hit anyone crossing his blueline or encroaching his net. He has had 1,276 hits in 579 NHL games, or an average of 2.2 hits a game. He’s the type of defenseman the Stars need to be more successful.
Tyler Pitlick (C)
Tyler Pitlick is a young center who may not find much playing time playing behind the likes of Hanzal, Seguin, Jason Spezza, Radek Faksa or Devin Shore. If he does make the team it will be in a fourth-line fill-in role.
Ken Hitchcock (head coach)
Ken Hitchcock will be making his return to lead the Dallas Stars once again. He was their head coach in their Stanley Cup victory in 1999. Stars’ general manager Jim Nill said Hitchcock received a multi-year contract that includes an agreement to move into a consulting position after he’s done coaching. He may be what the team needs to right the ship.
Antti Niemi (G)
Antti Niemi had his contract bought out and signed as a free agent as the backup goalie to Matt Murray in Pittsburgh. With Bishop firmly slated as the starting goalie and with Kari Lehtonen as his backup Niemi was expendable. Let’s face it though he has quite a shot at winning a Stanley Cup with the Penguins.
Moving on up
Esa Lindell (D)
Esa Lindell, The 23-year-old Finn just signed a two-year contract for $2.2 million to show him that the team has confidence in his abilities to maintain the Dallas blueline. Lindell had 18 points, and 119 blocks last season, and looks to improve his contribution this season. At 6’3″, 215lbs, he also added 119 blocks to his totals.
Julius Honka (D)
Julius Honka, The 21-year-old (who also hails from Finland) had one goal, four assists in 16 games last season. Honka is waiver exempt on the Star’s salary cap crunch team and looks set to be a regular on the blueline. It may be a numbers game as to who stays and who leaves. The Stars may be over the salary cap limit of $75 million, and something will have to give.
Devin Shore looks to be a bright spot for the Dallas Stars and their future. He is still on his entry-level contract and may be ready for regular NHL play.
What can the Dallas Stars achieve this season?
With all the new additions, and filling the holes a bit on the defense and goaltending, the Stars should improve. Will they improve enough to be a playoff team?
The way Hitchcock coaches, the lazy play where players wouldn’t get back on defense won’t be tolerated. “Hitch” has been around a while and will crack the whip to get his team going. They have an arsenal of scorers, they just need to learn how to keep the puck out of their net. Bishop will assist with that endeavor, and their young defense will improve.
Radulov will definitely give them solid play on the first-line, and Hanzal will give them what they need to tighten up on defense, and win faceoffs.
Will it be enough?
If things fall into place for the Stars, they could possibly finish in a wild-card spot. They are in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL. It won’t be an easy task to knock out the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, or Cup finalist Nashville Predators. The Stars will finish fifth in their division, and ninth in the Western Conference, meaning no playoffs again.
The stars just won’t align for this Dallas team until they can solve their defensive deficiencies.
What do you think of the Dallas Stars chances this next season? Let us know in the comments section below.
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