Dallas Stars: Projecting the 2021-22 lineup (forwards edition)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

As we turn the calendar to September, it is time to discuss what lineup will take the ice for the Dallas Stars on opening night. We will start with the forward group. There are multiple questions facing this team that will decide the lineup to start the season.

Will key players be ready following injuries last season? Which version of Jamie Benn will we see? Can they find more offense throughout the lineup? Let’s dive in.

Opening night forward lineup for the Dallas Stars





While there are many unknowns for the Stars heading into next season, the top line is not one of them. The trio of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski was the most explosive and productive group last season. Pavelski led the team with 51 points, Hintz was a point-per-game player despite playing through a groin injury, and Robertson was arguably the best rookie in the league from the beginning of March. Head Coach Rick Bowness has already stated that these three will stay together to start the season and it is likely that they will represent the top line.

Two of the key players returning from injury are Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. Both players missed most of last season but are expected to be ready on opening night. Seguin will be competing for top-line minutes while Dallas searches for more fluidity throughout their forward group. Radulov has been a consistent offensive threat since coming to Dallas in 2017. He finished last season with 12 points in the 11 games he played before needing surgery to repair a core injury. His energy and emotion may be the most underrated part of his game and was sorely missed throughout last season.

The wild card on this line will be the 2020 playoff hero, Joel Kiviranta. After scoring the heroic hat trick in Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche in the Edmonton Bubble, his expectations were high. Unfortunately, he also missed extended time with an injury last season but was effective when in the lineup. He will look to build off of that momentum and become a legitimate top-six forward in the NHL.

The third line will have a far different look than in past seasons. This will be the first time in a long time that Dallas will not feature the “F-C-C” line of Radek Faksa, Andrew Cogliano, and Blake Comeau. Cogliano recently signed with the San Jose Sharks as the Stars are in search of more offense from their bottom six. Jamie Benn had a resurgence last season after switching to center in late March. He enjoyed the transition and was able to become a consistent factor on both ends of the ice. Although he has history and chemistry with Seguin, I believe he is a better fit in a third-line role where he can focus on physicality along with offensive production.

The story of last season was very similar for Denis Gurianov. After a dynamic performance in the 2020 playoffs, he struggled for much of the season, with stretches of 15+ games without scoring a goal. Once he was paired up with Benn however, his game rapidly improved. He began to use his speed and shot to create offense and looked like a far more confident player. If he is able to return to form, this line will not be a traditional Stars’ third line. They will bring plenty of physicality but should provide offense as well.

Speaking of physicality, the third member of the line, Ty Dellandrea, knows how to throw his body around. In his rookie season in 2020-21, he showed flashes of excellence along with some learning moments common in a young player. Racking up 47 hits in 26 games, he still has a lot of room to grow but will bring energy and excitement to this versatile third line.

Slotting in on the fourth line will be a mixture of faces. However, the Stars will look to find a consistent group after rotating countless names into their fourth line a season ago. The staples on this line will be Radek Faksa, Luke Glendening, and Blake Comeau. All three players are proven defensive specialists that know how to shut down opposing offenses. Faksa and Glendening are both natural centers and top face-off players on this team. Glendening was a career-high 61% while Faksa was 56% on face-offs last season. This will allow both players to rotate positions and find what works best in each situation.

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Comeau returns for another season after signing a one-year extension this summer. This line will be the shutdown group that the Stars can roll out against the top talent across the league. If they can produce a bit more offense than previous seasons, they will form the perfect line.

Other players that should see plenty of time in the lineup throughout the season include Michael Raffl, Riley Damiani, Tanner Kero, Rhett Gardner, and Joel L’Esperance.

The biggest question facing this Stars’ forward group is if they can produce enough offense. It is no secret that Dallas has struggled to score goals over the past few seasons. This summer, General Manager Jim Nill opted to add defensive players and trust the current names in the dressing room to provide offense.

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

If key players such as Seguin, Benn, and Gurianov can contribute on a more consistent basis and this team can stay healthy, they will be a tough group to match up with.