For the Dallas Stars the future begins today. Gone is the inexperienced coach. Gone is the unproven GM. Gone are former cornerstones and leaders. Even some valuable prospects are now gone. Gone are the Dallas Stars you knew from previous seasons. This Dallas Stars team is an entirely new team with entirely new expectations.
Starting at the top of the flow chart you will find new General Manager, Jim Nill. In case you are unaware, Jim Nill was a proven and respected member of the Detroit Red Wings front office. Over the years he has been watching and learning in one of the NHL’s very best franchises. He patiently waited for the perfect opportunity to arise before he threw his hat into the figurative “General Manger Ring”.
Once in Dallas, he wasted little time, quickly working the roster to fit his vision and style. He shook up the coaching staff and his front office. He made bold moves at the NHL draft receiving great reviews from both fans and experts.
He came in with a plan and he enacted the plan immediately.
Jim Nill immediately signed 39 year old Sergei Gonchar. The move seemed curious at first because the Stars traded a 6th round pick and agreed to a 2yr/$10M deal for the aged veteran.
Upon further review (and after seeing the success Gonchar has had as both a mentor and as a player) the signing started making sense.
In 2013 Gonchar finished 12th in points (27) and 5th in assists (24) for all NHL defensemen. Those are excellent numbers for anyone, especially a high-character veteran at the end of his career.
Later in the month Nill finally made his head coaching selection when he signed the recently terminated, Lindy Ruff. It’s tough to definitively say if Ruff was his 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice but regardless – it was a solid hire.
Other moves were made over the summer but none bigger than the acquisition of star center, Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins. Seguin, regarded as one of the best young forwards in the NHL, fell out of favor in Boston for his questionable off-the-ice-activities.
The Stars, in need of multiple centers, were eager to gobble up the young all-star at their greatest position of need. The trade didn’t come without cost as the Stars sent beloved wingers Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser along with (the young and valuable) defenseman Joe Morrow. In addition to acquiring Seguin, the Stars also received center Rich Peverley and defenseman Ryan Button from the Boston Bruins.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, the Stars made a splash in the NHL Draft when they selected 18 year old Russian star, Valeri Nichushkin. Nich has already made an impression in the preseason and looks to be an immediate impact for the Stars this season.
In the end, all of the wheeling and dealing led to a position shift for team captain, Jamie Benn. Benn, now in his natural position on the wing, will team with Tyler Seguin on the top line and should be a formidable force for years to come.
The Defense is a mix of strong veterans and young high-ceiling kids. The goaltending is stout with incumbent Kari Lehtonen atop the depth chart. There will certainly be growing pains on both Defense and Offense this season but play should improve as the year progresses. The Stars went 4-0 in the preseason and have every intention of continuing that momentum into the regular season.
This team is young enough to show fans their immense potential and the bright future ahead. This team is experienced enough to win now amidst the rebuilding. And this team is talented enough to bridge the gap and guarantee great hockey to Dallas for the next 5-10 years if continued to be managed in the same vein.
This is a time to be excited about Stars Hockey.
It’s a great time to be a Stars fan and it all starts tonight.
Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson