Last Word on Hockey’s Puck Drop Previews are back for the 2022-2023 season! As the regular season approaches, Last Word will preview each team’s current outlook and stories to watch for the upcoming year. We’ll also do our best to project how things will go for each team over the course of the campaign. Today, we’re previewing the Dallas Stars.
2022-2023 Dallas Stars
Last season the Stars had many highs and many lows. They started the season with four goalies, and no established lines, and were trying to get back to being a Cup contender after missing the playoffs the season before. Quickly, the top line was established but the other three lines struggled to be consistent or produce offensively for the whole season. Frustrations grew from fans as the season progressed due to losing one-goal games or blowing leads within minutes of the last period. The Stars were also referred to as “the most boring hockey team to watch.”
Fans also hoped to see a change in the coaching staff mid-season due to the lack of results and the lack of change to get different results. However, they fought their way back into a wild card spot towards the end of the season. During the playoffs, they were matched up with the Calgary Flames. Nearly every NHL analyst picked the Flames to win, most in a sweep. But the Stars put up a fight and lost in an overtime Game 7 loss. The season was disappointing given the tools and talent in the lineup.
The first move of the offseason for the Stars was parting ways with head coach Rick Bowness. After meeting and talking with a few coaches, the front office decided to bring Pete DeBoer on as their new coach. The Stars lost quite a few players this offseason, but the most controversial player they let go was John Klingberg. He was very vocal about wanting to stay in Dallas, but due to cap constraints, they were unable to get a deal done. Klingberg has since signed a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks.
Dallas had two players decide to go play in other leagues after their contracts ended; Alexander Radulov and Michael Raffl. Vladislav Namestnikov was a trade deadline acquisition during the season and signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning this offseason. Defenceman Andrej Sekera decided to retire from the NHL after a 16 year career. Though the Stars lost a handful of players, they were rather quiet this offseason, only adding a few players.
This biggest name Dallas added this offseason was forward Mason Marchment. He was added with the intention of helping with the scoring depth the Stars desperately need. And with the hole Klingberg left, they needed some depth on the blue line. Adding defencemen Colin Miller and Will Butcher. Because there is a lack of right-handed defenceman, they’re hoping Miller can step into a big role for them.
Two big name players the Stars were available to re-sign this offseason were Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson. Oettinger had a stellar playoff series, demanding a decent payday. The 23-year-old signed a three year deal. Robertson is another young player who needs a new contract and that is going to come with a hefty price tag. The 23-year-old earned it by scoring 41 goals during his sophomore year. However, he has not been signed yet and they are still negotiating. As it stands, the Stars have roughly $6-7 million to work with.
Forwards: Projected Lines
The Stars will expect most of their production from the top line. The trio of Robertson, Hintz, and Pavelski was one of the highest-scoring lines in the NHL last season. Combined they scored 105 goals. As Robertson and Hintz get older and gain more experience, the coaching staff are hopeful they can continue to build on last year. However, last season the second line struggled. Under Bowness, they did not have a line that was solidified and no matter who was on the line, they did not produce much. With the addition of Marchment and the hope of Seguin being one hundred percent after an injury, there is an expectation that the second line can pull their weight this season.
The Stars bottom six will most likely be a very fluid situation for a good portion of the beginning of the season. They have a handful of players who have very little NHL experience that could potentially fill some of the holes. With the new system that DeBoer will be bringing in, players that did not stay in the lineup, may have a shot this season. There are also a few prospects that will attend camp and have a real shot of making the lineup. Peterson proved himself to be a valuable bottom six forward with potential to move into a bigger role last season. Faksa and Glendening have been the shut-down line and will likely stay together with another defensive forward.
Defence: Projected Lines
Ryan Suter – Colin Miller
For the last several seasons, Lindell’s linemate has been Klingberg. Statistics will tell you that Lindell is worse when he is not with Klingberg. Because of this, picking his next linemate will be imperative to his production. Heiskanen has been known to pick up the slack from his linemates and make it look effortless. For this reason, DeBoer may take a good look at this pairing. However, Heiskanen was with Suter for the majority of last season. Depending on how the two pairs do together, Suter and Lindell could be switched.
For fans, the hope is that DeBoer can find Heiskanen a partner that will allow him to play on his strong side. Due to the lack of right-handed defencemen, he has been playing on the right side. And while he is still able to play phenomenally, he hasn’t been able to play to his full potential. Unlocking Heiskanen’s offensive game would benefit not only his game but the whole team’s. And with Klingberg gone, he will start to see more minutes in a bigger role, including running the power play.
Like the rest of the Stars roster, the bottom pair of defencemen are very fluid as well. Harley, who is 21 years old has shown a lot of potential but did not get much playing time last season. He has shown that he can move the puck and has a the ability to be an offensive threat. DeBoer’s system should work well with Harley’s game. If Harley does not find a place in the lineup, Joel Hanley can step into that role. He played a good portion of last season. And while his game is not offensively driven, he is a hard worker and can fill the bottom pair spot as needed.
Last season Oettinger started in the AHL and not only made his way to the NHL but quickly established himself as the Stars number one goalie. Since then he has proven himself as one of the top goalies in the league at 23 years old. He had a stellar first round in the playoffs last season that put him on the radar of teams and fans across the league. Scott Wedgewood will be the second half of the goalie tandem. He was a trade deadline acquisition last season and came in and performed well. Wedgewood faced a lot of high-shot games and kept a calm demeanor. He will be a reliable stand-in when Oettinger needs a break.
Players to Watch
Robertson caught the attention of the NHL and other teams this past season with his stellar performance. After putting up 79 points in 74 games played. It was only his second full season in the league and at 23 years old, he hasn’t even gotten close to his ceiling. Not only is he fun to watch, because the kid knows how to put the puck in the net, but he also has indescribable chemistry with his linemates. Though he is a quiet player, he already has leadership skills and makes a huge impact on the ice. Additionally, his hockey IQ is that of a veteran player. He is expected to top his already elevated game.
Seguin has been under scrutiny since last season by fans and analysts with a short memory. It wasn’t long before the season when he was re-learning how to walk after a massive hip surgery following an injury during the 2020 Cup run. He was open about struggling to find his new game, with his new legs. About halfway through the season, he seemed to figure it out and started producing offensively again. This was also under Bowness who did not foster a system geared towards offense. However, Seguin still put up 24 goals and 49 points in 81 games played.
Seguin, fans, and the front office are all hoping he can build on the last half of the season. Between continuing to grow the muscle in his leg and working on his new game, he should come back better than ever. And with a new coach and a new system, he should have some help with the offensive production. Not only that but hopefully his linemates will help him produce as well. He may not get back to pre-injured numbers but keep an eye out for what he does this season.
Prediction for 2022-2023 Dallas Stars
On paper, the Stars are worse than they were last season. DeBoer could come in and shake things up. If he can move the lineup around to get maximum production out of some of the players that have been lacking, then they could surprise some people. Most likely they will be fighting for a wild card spot again. Unless Jim Nill makes some moves mid-season to fix some of the current holes in the roster. Their offensive game should be better than what was seen under Bowness. Last season the Vegas Golden Knights under DeBoer allowed the same amount of goals as the Stars under Bowness. So their defensive game shouldn’t decrease from the defence first system they have been known for. They will still be shut down in their own zone, but allow the players to play offence as well.