NHL Season Recap – Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars

2016-17 season: 34-47-11, 79 points

Did not qualify for playoffs

Head Coach: Fired – Lindy Ruff (2013); Newly Hired – Ken Hitchcock (2017)
6th Place Central Division General Manager: Jim Nill (2013)
11th Place Western Conference AHL Affiliate: Texas Stars

ECHL Affiliate: Idaho Steelheads

Draft Position: Will have the eighth  greatest odds in the NHL Draft Lottery

Top Forwards

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
C 25 Tyler Seguin 82 72 26 46 -15 51.6
LW 27 Jamie Benn 77 69 26 43 -9 50.0
C 33 Jason Spezza 68 50 15 35 -18 50.9
RW 32 Patrick Eaves 59 37 21 16 -10 52.1
C 22 Devin Shore 82 33 13 20 -4 48.2
C 23 Radek Faksa 80 33 12 21 -6 51.8
LW 27 Antoine Roussel 60 27 23 15 1 54.4
RW 23 Brett Ritchie 78 24 16 8 11 51.0
LW 30 Lauri Korpikowski 60 20 8 12 5 45.7
LW 35 Patrick Sharp 48 18 8 10 -22 51.5

Top Defensemen

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
D 24 John Klingberg 80 49 13 36 2 49.5
D 22 Esa Lindell 73 18 6 12 8 49.0
D 34 Dan Hamhuis 79 16 1 15 -7 52.4
D 29 Jordie Benn 58 15 2 13 -3 49.6
D 24 Stephen Johns 61 10 4 6 -10 51.4

Top Goaltenders

POS Age Name Games Started W/L Record Shutouts GAA Save %
G 33 Kari Lehtonen 52 22-25-7 3 2.85 .902
G 33 Antti Niemi 30 12-12-4 0 3.30 .892

Trades Made During the Season

What They Acquired Team They Traded With In Exchange For
D Dillon Heatherington Columbus Blue Jackets F Lauri Korpikowski
F Mark McNeil

Conditional 2018 4th RD Pick

Chicago Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya
D Greg Pateryn

2017 4th RD Pick

Montreal Canadiens D Jordie Benn
Conditional 2017 2nd RD Pick Anaheim Ducks RW Patrick Eaves
, G Justin Peters

D Justin Hache

Arizona Coyotes F Brendan Ranford

F Branden Troock

Impending Free Agents

POS Age Name 2016-17 Cap Hit
LW 35 Patrick Sharp $5,900,000
RW 33 Ales Hemsky $4,000,000
RW 33 Jiri Hudler $2,000,000
C 26 Justin Dowling $625,000
G 30 Justin Peters $600,000
D 27 Dustin Stevenson $600,000
C 33 Travis Morin $550,000

Draft Needs

  • Dallas has nine picks in this year’s draft with an outside chance at cracking the top three overall.  Most likely, however, they will end up picking between the five and ten range, still the highest they have picked in a long time.  They haven’t had a pick higher than tenth since 2009. This draft isn’t overly conducent for what the Stars need as there are quite a few centers at the top of the draft board.  However, there are also several high-quality defensemen with good potential and that is a need that the Stars have after they shook up their defense group last offseason. Taking another good puck-moving defenseman with their first round pick would give them an excellent future top four with their draft prospect, Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, Julius Honka, and John Klingberg.  They also finally need to draft goaltenders with the goal of finding their netminder of the future.  Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen aren’t cutting it and will be off the team soon and they will need to find the player who can take over for the long-term future. The only goaltender in their system who seems to even remotely have the potential to be an NHL starter is Markus Ruusu, who is currently playing in his native Finland in The Liiga.  The two goaltenders ranked atop the North American and European goaltender boards, Jake Oettinger and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, respectively, could both be available when Dallas drafts in the second and third rounds.  Oettinger is currently at Boston University and could develop there before making the move to Dallas and Luukkonen would continue playing professionally in Finland before playing in North America.  

What I Said About Them Before the Season

  • I projected Dallas to return to the playoffs this season after winning the Central Division last year.  I liked their offense enough to overcome the losses that they willingly suffered as a result of not re-signing Kris Russell, Jason Demers, or Alex Goligoski.  I, like everyone else, questioned their goaltending and thought that they could be in the market for Henrik Lundqvist if he were moved this season.

Success/Failure

  • Failure – A team that wins its division one season and is in the Draft Lottery the next is certainly a failure.  They even managed to stay relatively healthy so that can’t be used as an excuse.  The biggest reason for their shortcomings was in net, where neither Kari Lehtonen nor Antti Niemi were very good and they cost the team a lot of victories.  This ultimately cost head coach Lindy Ruff is job, as he wasn’t re-signed for next season.  The Stars shakeup of their defense group was a big reason for the team struggling both in general and in net as defensemen they kept on their roster was largely young except for Dan Hamhuis.  Another reason that the team struggled was because both Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn had down seasons compared to their career norms and it showed in the standings.

Offseason Needs

  • The Stars front office let coach Lindy Ruff go but I don’t think that he was the person most responsible for their problems.  GM Jim Nill choosing to not address their goaltending situation was the biggest reason, as it has been for several seasons now.  Nill not taking care of this problem once and for all means that he should be on the hot seat, but hasn’t been up to this point. Nill replaced Ruff with Ken Hitchcock, the coach who led Dallas to its Stanley Cup in 1999. Hitchcock has traditionally been really good for his teams’ goaltenders and should help that situation.  Regardless of the change in coach, look for the Stars to finally find a better starting goaltender than Niemi and Lehtonen.  Perhaps that is a landing spot for Marc-Andre Fleury if Dallas agrees to retain some of one of Niemi or Lehtonen’s contracts in a trade.  Or maybe they will pursue Ben Bishop in free agency.  Either way, they need to find someone better as this has been their major problem the last few seasons.  They also need to determine whether they are satisfied with their defense or not.  Going through as much turnover as that unit did last offseason wreaked havoc and the front office and Hitchcock will have to make the decision as to whether bring in someone else or to see if their current players can solidify into a trusted group.  Finally, I think that they are going to have to add some depth scoring.  Patrick Sharp, Jiri Hudler, and Ales Hemsky are all free agents this season and will need to be replaced, preferably with younger players.  If the front office can address most of, if not all, of these needs then I think that Dallas should find itself right back into the playoffs in 2017-18.

*All stats and information came from hockey-reference.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com, capfriendly.com, tsn.ca, and eliteprospects.com*

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