The Stars a playoff team?

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It may still be a little early to start predicting where NHL teams will end up come next April. But some writers are already going for it and starting to look over teams to see where they might finish this coming season. Now while I personally think it is a little early since most teams still have restricted free agents that are unsigned and there are still quite a few free agents out on the market. But we know Dallas will not be in the market for any of these guys, and we expect that the team will resign Neal to a short term deal and not lose him.

So where does that put the team compared to last season? Well the young guns have another year on them. Eriksson, Neal, Benn, Wandell, Grossman, and Fistric will all be looked upon to continue to build upon what we have seen from many of them in recent memory. Lehtonen showed some great flashes of the potential that Atlanta used to see in him before his history of injuries, and now must continue to show improvement and better conditioning while taking the lead and playing around 50 games. And veterans in Ribeiro, Daley, and Morrow will have to show a better taking to the new style and mix better with their linemates.

PITTSBURGH - MARCH 6: Goaltender Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 6, 2010 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Lehtonen will have to shine this season (Image: Yardbarker.com)

Overall the team is in the second season with a newer coach and system, and just let a few of the longtime faces of the franchise go to get younger and move the team in a new direction. This team’s youth and overall good forward group could go a long way towards getting back to the playoffs. But the weak defense and unknown factor in goal will be the deciding factors in what this team is able to accomplish this coming season.

Prediction: Stars finish 9th – I think Dallas will find a little more rhythm this season and be able to at least win multiple games in a row a few times. But this is still a team with one of the weakest defenses in the league and that probably won’t change until new ownership hopefully takes over before next summer. They grow a little more and see some good things out of Lehtonen, but just miss the playoffs.

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Tags: Dallas Stars Kari Lehtonen Predictions

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