The Dallas Stars failed to make the playoffs last season, despite having a solid season, winning over 50% of their games (42-32-8). The abundance of talent in the Central Division really made it tough for them to succeed, finishing three points out of a wild-card spot despite 92 points.
Dallas really didn’t do a whole ton this offseason, but by extending 40-goal center Tyler Seguin they may have made the biggest move of any team not named Ottawa or San Jose. The Stars also re-signed their former first-round choice Valeri Nichushkin (cover photo) to a two-year, $5.9 million contract. Nichushkin, 23, played in Russia the previous two seasons.
Additions: Blake Comeau – F (Colorado Avalanche), Valeri Nichushkin – F (CSKA Moscow), Anton Khudobin – G (Boston Bruins), Ty Dellandrea – F (1st round pick), Erik Condra – F (Tampa Bay Lightning), Joel Hanley – D (Arizona Coyotes), Michael Mersch – F (Los Angeles Kings), Roman Polak – D (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jim Montgomery – Coach
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Subtractions: Brian Flynn – F (St. Louis Blues), Mike McKenna – G (Ottawa Senators), Curtis McKenzie – F (Vegas Golden Knights), Greg Pateryn – D (Minnesota Wild), Antoine Roussel – F (Vancouver Canucks), Dan Hamhuis – D (Nashville Predators), Ken Hitchcock – Coach
Tyler Seguin, fresh off his new $9.75M AAV contract, will lead Dallas into battle this year after scoring 78 points last season. Jamie Benn (cover photo) one-upped him last year, leading Dallas with 79 points. Both will return in 2018.
He didn’t do a whole lot last year, with only 34 points, but I expect Matthias Janmark to have a better year this year. By adding some offensive weapons around Janmark, it eases pressure on Janmark and should make him more productive.
What to expect
Once again, the Central should be a dogfight. Not only did none of the six big teams from last year do anything cataclysmic over the offseason, but the Blackhawks quietly got better as well. Dallas will get a full season out of Ben Bishop, who they acquired at the deadline last year, which is an obvious plus. The addition of Anton Khudobin, replacing Kari Lehtonen as Bishop’s backup, should make their goalie position a strength for the first time in a while.
Ken Hitchcock retiring means that Jim Montgomery, the former coach at the University of Denver, will take the reins in Dallas. The move from college coach to NHL coach is not a common one and will present some obvious challenges. However, everyone around the game swears by Montgomery, and a vast majority believe Dallas made a good hire with the hire.
If Montgomery proves that he can make the jump and the Stars get a bit more production, especially from the bottom six, they may be able to compete in the Western Conference.
Coming Tuesday: FPC’s Atlantic Division Previews begin with Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tyler Kading covers the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL’s Central Division for Full Press Coverage.
Cover Photo Credit: USA Today
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