Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014-15 Outlook: Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars
Head Coach: Lindy Ruff (2nd Season in DAL)
Arena: American Airlines Center (Capacity: 18,532)
2013-14 Record: 40-31-11 (4th in Central Division)
Record vs MIN in 2013-14: 2-1-1
2013-14 Corsi For %: 51.5% (10th in NHL)
Top Scorer: Tyler Seguin (84 Points, 2.81 P/60)
Top Goaltender: Kari Lehtonen (33-20-10, 2.41 GAA, ..919 SV%)

2013-14 Recap: In a season in which they were expected to next to nothing, the Dallas Stars made some big noise in the Western Conference. Led by two of the top scorers in the league (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn), the Stars hung around in the Western Conference playoff race before a late surge put them past Phoenix and Nashville into the final playoff spot where a first round matchup with the Anaheim Ducks awaited them. The Stars hung around with the Ducks (the series was tied after game four), but lost in six games.

Possession Numbers:

Courtesy of Progressive Hockey

Player Deployment:

Courtesy of War on Ice

Offseason Additions-C Jason Spezza, RW Ales Hemsky, G Anders Lindbach: Looking to make a big splash this summer, the Stars went out and traded for disgruntled Ottawa C Jason Spezza. The trade now gives Dallas another top six center who can provide secondary scoring to help put less pressure on Benn and Seguin. The addition of Ales Hemsky further strengthens their top six and now sets up Dallas to be one of the top scoring teams in the NHL this season. Anders Lindbach was brought in to back up Kari Lehtonen after the aging Tim Thomas went unsigned this offseason.

Offseason Losses-RW Alex Chiasson, D Aaron Rome, G Tim Thomas: The Stars lost very little this offseason. Chiasson was sent to Ottawa as part of the package that landed Spezza. The addition of Hemsky helped fill the void he left in the lineup. Aaron Rome was bought out using one of the team's two compliance buyouts, and he will no longer count against the cap. The aforementioned Thomas was brought over in a midseason trade but did little for Dallas and was not retained this summer.

Top Prospects: Brett Richie has been a big scorer for Dallas since they drafted him in 2011. He scored 76 points for Niagara (OHL) in 2012-13, then put up 48 points in his first full season for Texas (AHL) last year. He could slide into the Dallas lineup out of camp but it is a safer bet that he will start in Texas this year. John Klingberg will provide some much needed depth at defense for Dallas down the road, but it appears he will more likely spend the season in Texas. Klingberg projects to be an all-around solid defenseman as he can play with the best in any area on the ice. Look for him to break into the Dallas lineup next season.

Projected Lines:

Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole-Jason Spezza-Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel-Cody Eakin-Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff-Vernon Fiddler-Colton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski-Trevor Daley
Brenden Dillon-Jordie Benn
Sergei Gonchar-Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindbach

(Projected lines courtesy of NHL.com)

Scouting Report: If you can stop the Dallas offensive attack, you deserve applause. It won't happpen much in 2014-15. Their talented forwards like to play aggressively and often do well when they attack (helps when you have Jamie Benn and Seguin terrorizing defenses). When on the rush, the Stars are extremely difficult to stop, so its best to not give them any odd man rushes. The key for the Stars this season will be their defense, as it is still suspect with questionable characters Brenden Dillon, Jordie Benn, and Sergei Gonchar figuring to get big minutes on the team this year. If Dallas can get decent production out of that trio, along with their top defensive pairing, they will be one of the better teams in the league. In goal, the Stars will be relying on Kari Lehtonen once again and he will need to find more consistency in his game if Dallas wants to make it out of the first round this year.

Check back on Saturday to find out where the Stars finish.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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