Dallas Stars’ top four defense remains among NHL elite

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

When looking at their roster, It is easy to see the strength of the Dallas Stars. The defense has been the most consistent part of their team since Jim Montgomery took over in 2018, a trend that continues into 2021. In fact, they consistently rank near the top in most defensive and goaltending categories. While they lost Jamie Oleksiak to the Seattle Kraken, they were able to quickly find a replacement that is perhaps even better than the man he replaces.

On Day One of NHL free agency, Stars’ General Manager Jim Nill signed veteran defenseman Ryan Suter. Suter has been among the top defenseman in the league throughout his career with the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild. Now, looking at the names John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Miro Heiskanen, and Suter, it is easy to see why this top four will remain among the NHL elite for the foreseeable future.

Do any teams have a better top four defense than the Dallas Stars?

Let’s start with the top pair of Klingberg and Lindell. These two have been together for years and play off each other extremely well. Klingberg is one of the most elusive and creative offensive defensemen in the game. He likes to take chances and jump up on the rush to create offense. In order for him to have that freedom, he needs a defense-first player to back him up. That is where Lindell excels.

Lindell is a solid defenseman that finds himself in the right position on a consistent basis. While he does not have much flash in his game, he will make the right plays and mop up most mistakes that his partner might make. This strategy led to a massive increase in offense as Dallas focused on production from their defense in their recent run to the Stanley Cup Final.

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The second pair, if you can call it that, is made up of young superstar Miro Heiskanen and the newcomer, Ryan Suter. Heiskanen has rapidly become one of the top defensemen in the league in his young career. He has the ability to defend, frustrate opponents, and use his speed and playmaking to add offense at the other end. To put it simply, he is a complete player that will likely win multiple Norris Trophies in his career.

While he is left-handed, he has become very comfortable playing on the right side across from Oleksiak and is seemingly as effective on either side. The reason this is important is that Suter is also left-handed and is far more comfortable playing on his strong side.

With the defensive core being mostly left-handed, this gives the Stars the ability to play their best players in the top four and not worry about them struggling. Suter will bring veteran leadership, power-play production, and a high-level hockey IQ that should mesh very well with Heiskanen.

"“I know I felt there was so much pressure for me because I wanted to make sure I picked the right situation to give me the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup,” Suter said. “To win the Stanley Cup would mean the world to me and that’s what I’m going to Dallas to do.”"

While these pairings are not set in stone and can change throughout the season, they are the most likely option for Bowness to roll out on opening night. Since Heiskanen can play on either side, the coaching staff will be able to adjust if needed, perhaps swapping Lindell with Suter to see which combinations are the most successful.

Dallas remains a defensive team under Rick Bowness and has seen some recent success with that approach. Perhaps, this is the season they put it all together, using their suffocating defense and timely offense to push them to a deep playoff run.

Next. Where the Dallas Stars stand heading into training camp. dark

Related Story. 4 Dallas Stars' prospects to watch for in 2021-22. light

Finally, I want to finish this article by repeating the question asked above. Do any teams have a better top four defense than the Dallas Stars?

  • Published on 09/03/2021 at 11:47 AM
  • Last updated at 09/03/2021 at 12:23 PM