2014-15 Season Preview – Dallas Stars
2013/14 Season Record – 8th Place in Western Conference, 5th Place in Central Division
2013/14 Season Recap
The leaves are changing in my quiet New England neighborhood, and that can only mean one thing; a new NHL season is right around the corner. Coming from Texas, I am not accustomed to such an early Autumn, followed by all too brutal winters, but on the bright side, it’s one more sign that a new Dallas Stars campaign is on the way.
Last season saw a resurgence of confidence in this team, and that was in part due to a maturing of a few key young players on the Stars roster. They’ve also made some keen moves over the off-season, including signing Jason Spezza and the sometimes controversial, but talented Czech, Ales Hemsky from Ottawa; two players who add a lot of depth and skill to their 2014-15 roster. Hemsky was added to replace Alex Chiasson, who was a part of the Spezza deal and whom I honestly feel is a better player. Dallas made out well with that one.
I don’t see the Stars making any more moves between now and October, as they can without question, be pleased with what they’ve done thus far.
|Jamie Benn (C)||Tyler Seguin||Valeri Nichushkin|
|Colton Sceviour||Jason Spezza||Ales Hemsky|
|Antoine Roussel||Cody Eakin||Ryan Garbutt|
|Shawn Horcoff (A)||Vernon Fiddler||Erik Cole|
|Kevin Connauton||Jordie Benn|
|Brendan Dillon||Trevor Daley|
|Alex Goligoski||Sergei Gonchar|
|Rich Peverley *Playing status not yet known after collapsing during a game, March 2014|
Top Call-Up Options
- Travis Morin
- Curtis McKenzie
- Brett Ritchie
- Jamie Oleksiak
- Patrik Nemeth
- Jyrki Jokipakka
- Jack Campbell
- Christopher Niltstorp
- Devin Shore (University of Maine, NCAA)
- Julius Honka (Swift Current, WHL)
- Brett Ritchie (Texas Stars, AHL)
- Jason Spezza (Ottawa, 7 years, $49 million)
- Ales Hemsky (Ottawa, 3 year, $12 million)
- Patrick Eaves (Nashville, 1 year, $650,000)
- Anders Lindback (UFA, 1 year, $925,000)
- Alex Chiasson (Ottawa)
One thing I like about Dallas’ off-season moves, is that they were subtle, yet made pointed choices. First, the re-signing of Vernon Fiddler was key, and adding both Spezza and Hemsky will bring more tenacity, depth and experience to an already skillful roster.
As for Patrick Eaves, he is somewhat up in the air as far as I am concerned. Dallas only signed him on for one season; a smart move, as he has missed significant portions of the last three seasons with concussion symptoms and a sprained MCL. If he can stay healthy and find his niche among other more stand out players, he may find a lot of success in the Big D. I will be very interested to see which line he winds up on.
Of course, Anders Lindback. I love a good Scandinavian net-minder. Lindback is more than a solid back-up for starter, Kari Lehtonenen, having played past seasons in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly known as Elitserien) with Gavle’s successful Brynas IF system since. More recently, he arrives in Dallas from Tampa Bay/Syracuse Crunch, where he enjoyed a .891 Save Percentage in 23 games with Tampa Bay last season.
Some other good news for Stars fans is that this team didn’t give up anybody they didn’t make up for, and then some. Case in point, Alex Chaisson is traded to Ottawa, but in exchange the Stars pick up two quality players in Spezza and Hemsky.
Jamie Benn (C)
The man with the “C” on his sweater in Dallas, is also the man to watch. The Victoria, BC native is young, fast and intuitive in his playing style. He suited up for 81 games in 2013-14, scoring 34 goals and notching 45 assists for 79 points. A lot of Stars fans are anxious to see how the new additions factor in and what this season’s lines look. Jamie has been with the club since 2009-2010, way back when I was fortunate enough to be living in the great city of Dallas while I went to college, and watched him really come into his own.
He’s become an established part of this team, and it’s been extremely exciting to watch him play and develop into a leadership role. As good as it is now, I feel like there is even more to come from not just Jamie Benn, but the team as a whole.
GM Jim Nill and Coach Lindy Ruff know what they’re doing. Plain and simple. It appears they’re setting Dallas up for a solid run at the playoffs and a Cup. Last season, the team fell flat against Anaheim in the Quarterfinals, losing a heartbreaker in OT of Game 6 to be eliminated. From the looks of it however, Dallas will enter the regular season poised with all of the tools they need to be true contenders.
Look for the likes of Jamie Benn, Seguin, Nichkushkin and Fiddler to produce more of the same and for Spezza and the other new additions to work their way into key roles on their new club, which in turn will hopefully produce immense results. Dallas has also had a season under the NHL’s new alignment to feel out the new faces in the Central Division.
They are going to have to find ways to be more consistent and outplay Colorado, St. Louis and Chicago, where they didn’t last year. I believe those sorts of games will be the litmus test of success for the changes Nill and Ruff have made over the off-season. It will be determined in how the Stars handle those teams and improve their record against them. All in all Stars fans should be excited and have every reason to feel optimistic for a deep run into the playoffs.
The dawning of a new NHL season is always exciting; we’re all tied for first place, 0-0-0. Equal ground. We can learn the season’s prior, and move on more confident and better prepared to make our cities proud. Drink it in Dallas, get behind your hockey team! Perhaps this will be the year a fifteen year Stanley Cup drought ends in the Big D.
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