The Dallas Stars are having an offseason that’s nothing short of epic. Here’s why you can expect a monumental shift in production
The Dallas Stars were nothing short of terrible last season going 34-37-11 and finishing second to last in the Central Division. Their 79 points were worse than all but five NHL teams, marking a colossal decline from the 109 points they logged only a season before.
Injuries played a significant role in the Stars’ fall from grace but so did an overall decline in play. The superstars were no longer playing like superstars, the blueliners were showing their inexperience and the goaltending was…well… a nightmare.
Commence the Epic Makeover
General Manager Jim Nill wasted no time rebuilding the team this offseason. Coach Lindy Ruff was politely sent packing and was replaced with area hero/legend, Ken Hitchcock. Hitch and Lindy went to work attacking the roster, utilizing the trade market, free agency, and the draft.
The biggest move of the offseason was unquestionably what the Dallas Stars did in net. After the 2-goalie rotation of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen proved to be a failure of spectacular proportions, Nill signed the best netminder on the market.
Ben Bishop, considered to be one of the very best goalies in the NHL, surprisingly signed a team friendly deal of six years, $29.5 million. Lehtonen was retained as the backup and Niemi was bought out, landing in Pittsburgh. Bishop markedly upgrades the net and alone he instantly makes the Stars a playoff team.
The Expansion Draft
The NHL expansion draft had the potential to hurt the Dallas Stars but Jim Nill played it perfectly and actually made it work for him.
Looking ahead, the Stars saw a decline in minutes for Cody Eakin next season. Rather than waste his talent on the bench, the Stars opted to expose him, knowing full well he’d be an obvious selection. Doing so shielded their young blueliners in the expansion draft and gained them salary cap room in the process.
Once Eakin was selected, the Stars used their savings to invest in free agent Martin Hanzal for three years, $14.25 million. Hanzal fits Ken Hitchcock’s defensive minded scheme and gives the Stars a clear upgrade on the second line.
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Nill also pulled off a savvy trade following the expansion draft when they picked up defenseman Marc Methot for next to nothing. Methot’s size and veteran experience improves the team in the short-term but also helps the young Stars defenseman develop along side him.
The highest risk and highest reward signing of the offseason has the potential to put the Stars over the top. The Stars signed Alexander Radulov to a five year, $31.25 million contract making him one of the highest paid players on the team.
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Rodulov, a repeat KHL MVP, has had a tumultuous relationship with the NHL over the years.
Last season he seemingly put those issues behind him, re-joining the NHL and gathering 54 points on 18 goals and 36 assists in 76 games.
Considered a physically dominant wing, Rodulov brings passing and scoring to the right wing position on the Stars’ top line.
Rounding out the epic rebuild is the addition of low risk/cost forward, Tyler Pitlick. Signed to a three year, $1 million deal, the 25-year-old forward brings depth to the organization. And first round draft picks Miro Heiskanen and Jake Oettinger bring a promising future.
The Dallas Stars upgraded in nearly every facet of the game this offseason. They are not only in the playoff discussion now, but they’re in the Stanley Cup discussion. That’s a pretty epic turnaround.