With summer vacation in the rearview mirror, it’s time at last to jump back into the good old hockey blog. And that means getting right into the Dallas Stars, yet another NHL team in need of a turnaround.
The Stars have a new head coach in Jim Montgomery, who coached the past five seasons at the University of Denver and is the replacement for Ken Hitchcock. He’s a young cat, which is a good thing for one of the youngest teams in the league. Montgomery is the fourth coach to make the beeline straight to the NHL out of college.
The new bench boss inherits a Stars team that missed the post-season the past two seasons.
The club made some subtle changes this summer, with the signing of a returning Valeri Nichushkin at the top of the list. The 23-year-old spent the last two seasons in the KHL after spending three seasons with Dallas.
Blake Comeau, Roman Polak and goalie Anton Khudobin were the signings during the summer, with 19-year-old Miro Heiskanen expected to make a considerable splash in the new year.
But really, this is a young team and Montgomery will have to be ready for it. The defence features the likes of Heiskanen, 22-year-old Julius Honka, 21-year-old Roope Hintz, 24-year-old Radek Faksa, and 21-year-old Denis Gurianov. They’ll have John Klingberg and Marc Methot to bolster the situation with veteran prowess, but there’s no discounting the youth of the movement.
Scoring is an interesting aspect of the Stars’ attack because it’s so unbalanced. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov accounted for 44.5 percent of the club’s scoring last season and scored almost 64 percent of their power play goals. Comeau and Nichushkin will help provide some secondary scoring.
Seguin may be entering his best season yet, given that 2018-2019 is a contract year. He’s inside the top 10 in the league when it comes to points, power play points and shots on goal and is a pretty clear-cut fantasy boon. He’s a consistent forward and only Alex Ovechkin has scored more goals over the past five seasons. Paired with Radulov and Benn, he’s a constant threat.
Goalie Ben Bishop signed a six-year deal in March of 2017, but he missed 13 of the last 15 games of last season due to a lower body injury. The Stars are hoping he’ll get over a history of injuries, but Khudobin is a pretty good insurance policy.
There’s a lot to like about the Dallas Stars this season and a lot of compelling fantasy hockey choices, but there are also some question marks. Bishop’s health could be a factor again and secondary scoring may not pan out exactly as planned. But with new coaching and a solid youth movement in place, Dallas could find itself in the post-season again.