Joe Nieuwendyk (GM), Marc Crawford (Head Coach)
82GP 37W 31L 14OTL 88PTS
5th Pacific, 12th West, 20th NHL
Brad Richards – 80GP 24G 67A 91P
Brendan Morrow (C), Stephane Robidas (A), Brad Richards (A)
Warren Peters (Signed with Minnesota)
Mike Modano (Signed with Detroit)
Marty Turco (Signed with Chicago)
Jere Lehtinen (Free Agent)
Andrew Raycroft (Free Agent)
Adam Burish (Free Agent)
Brad Lukowich (Free Agent)
The Dallas Stars have always been a competitive team, but this season a few things have changed. Long-time leader Mike Modano as well as three-time Selke winner Jere Lehtinen are gone, as well as veteran netminder Marty Turco. In return, the Stars have added Andrew Raycroft to compliment the recently acquired Kari Lehtonen, and brought back defenceman Brad Lukowich via free agency. The question now is whether or not the Stars were active enough in their pursuit to emerge as a playoff team this season.
If there’s one area in which the Stars lack a necessary piece, it’s an offensive defenceman. Stephane Robidas posted 10 goals and 41 points last season, but failed to be a consistent performer in his own zone, finishing the year with a -10 plus/minus rating. Trevor Daley, second on the team in points by a defenceman, finished the year with 6 goals and 22 points – his worst since the 2006-07 season. While he did complete the season with a +3 plus/minus rating, the Stars simply do not have any secondary scoring on the back-end outside of Robidas.
It’s not as if the Stars will miss the post-season simply due to a lack of scoring from the blueline, it’s simply a matter of their break-out play. Too often they would lack the ability to press their man and successfully complete the outlet pass to gain the offensive zone. Instead, as noted by a collective six defenceman in the minus column (-44), they struggled to move the puck out of their end. Mark Fistric was a highlight player for the Stars last-season, finishing a 67 game campaign with 27 points and +27 plus/minus, while only playing an average of 15 minutes per game. While increased ice-time would certainly lower those totals, he is an ideal candidate to lead the defensive charge against the opposition’s top lines.
The Stars failed to address their primary concerns over the summer as a shut-down defenceman and a powerplay quarterback was a necessity. They certainly had the cap space necessary to bid for the services of Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin with only a $48M cap hit this season. To put it into perspective, the club has committed $32.451M towards their forwards, which features six 20+ goal scorers, and just $11.250M toward their defence. While they do not need to be the Toronto Maple Leafs and pour half the salary towards defencemen, they certainly could have improved this club to a strong playoff contender simply by loosening their budget constraints. To suggest significant youngsters would command that extra cap next season due to RFA status is absurd as only Fabian Brunnstrom will be in that category come July 1st of next year. All of the club’s significant core is locked up past the 2011/12 season for the exception of Brad Richards, so really, what’s the excuse for not demanding excellent from your club immediately by spending the extra $10M? Stars fans should be disappointed in the club’s decisions this summer. It is well known the club is trying to find a new owner, but not signing key players will certainly cost them in the standings and their sale.
5th Pacific, 15th West
STARS DEPTH CHART
James Neal – Brad Richards – Loui Eriksson
Brendan Morrow – Mike Ribeiro – Jamie Benn
Steve Ott – Tom Wandell – Brandon Segal
Krys Barch – Toby Petersen – Adam Burish
Brian Sutherby – Aaron Gagnon – Fabian Brunnstrom
Stephane Robidas – Nicklas Grossman
Trevor Daley – Karlis Skrastins
Mark Fistric – Matt Niskanen
Brad Lukowich – Jeff Woywitka
For more articles by Micheal Aldred, visit http://www.thecheckingline.com