Dallas Stars: 3 things we learned from their 2021 season

Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Stars
Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Stanley Cup Playoffs began this weekend and for the first time in three seasons, the Dallas Stars were not a part of it. Although this season will be deemed as a failure, there was a lot to digest that can be used going into next season.

From young players shining bright, veterans stepping up, and the dedication from a team playing through extreme adversity, Dallas can hold their heads high knowing that they have plenty of building blocks for the future.

Examining the Lessons from the 2021 Dallas Stars’ Season

No. 1: The Kids Are For Real

The biggest lesson from this season has to be the emergence of some young players for the Stars.

22-year-old goaltender Jake Oettinger came into the season with minimal experience and the expectation to play a small role in the net for Dallas. Anton Khudobin had just come off an incredible Stanley Cup Final run and was set to carry most of the load until Ben Bishop returned late in the season from injury. That is not at all how things played out

Oettinger ended up starting in 24 of the teams’ 56 games during the COVID-shortened 2021 campaign. Of those 24 starts, he finished every one of them and was never pulled, an incredible feat for a rookie goalie.

He stayed consistent with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage while looking every bit like an NHL goalie. His calm demeanor allowed him to stay comfortable in all situations and he only got better as the season went on. While he still has lessons to learn and it is unclear how the Stars’ crease will look next season, the organization can be very excited that they have found their future goaltender, and he is ahead of schedule.

Jason Robertson was scratched a few games early in the season after being a non-factor in his first action. After that, he was a completely different player. Exploding for 16 points in March and 18 in April, Robertson led all rookies in scoring and was right on the heels of Kirill Karpisov in the Calder Trophy race for the leagues’ best rookie. Robertson provided more than offense as he was one of the Stars’ top players in all areas of the ice.

He showed his grit and puck skills constantly winning board battles and regaining possession before finding teammates. At just 21 years old, he has solidified his spot in the top-six and was a much-needed success story for a Dallas team that struggled to score goals.

Roope Hintz may not be considered a kid anymore as he finished his third season in the NHL but the 24-year-old certainly showed that he was for real in 2021. Playing through a severe groin injury that was not disclosed until after the season, he was the Stars’ best forward when he was in the lineup. Finishing with 43 points in 41 games, he dominated play with his high speed and skill and made every opponent back off. It is exciting to look forward to what he could be going into next season at full health.

A few other rookies showed their skills during the season in a less emphatic manner. Ty Dellandrea and Nicholas Camaano were in and out of the lineup and are still developing but gave the Stars a taste of their potential with some outstanding games and moments.

Joel Hanley has been battling for a spot on the third defense pair and gained some important experience in the bubble last season scoring his first NHL goal in the Stanley Cup Final. This year, he was one of the Stars’ most improved players and was a constant in the lineup for most of the season. He even earned himself a contract extension before the season was finished. Hanley should be a top choice on that third pairing going forward and will continue to grow.