Continuing my look over the Stars roster from last week, this time I will look over the forwards and rate each of the players similar to the style of many video games and other formats. So here is a quick run through the forwards, and what I think about each of the players. Of course 100 would be a once in a lifetime player (like myself…okay fine, not really) and anything below a 55-60 should not even be in the top level minors.
Brad Richards – 90: Richards has become the new offensive face of the franchise, at least in recent memory. He is marketable, talented, a class act, and a world class player. When Dallas first traded for him some said the price was too high, and after a season and a half of injuries and getting used to the new team, Richards re-emerged this last season. 91 points over 80 games for 7th best in the NHL, and 40 points on the powerplay for 2nd best in the NHL. Sure he was a -12 with his +/- but he played in all areas of the game and like quite a few others was hurt by the inconsistent defense and goaltending that took place last season. With good chemistry with budding talents such as Eriksson, Neal, and Benn, it looks like the upcoming season should be another great one for Richards.
Loui Eriksson – 84: If Richards is the new star center for the team, Eriksson is the “Robin” to Brad’s “Batman.” He has spent most of the last 2 seasons playing LW on the top line, putting up 134 points. He has become a top-line level winger over the last couple of seasons and it showed even more during the Olympics as many people noticed that he stood out even on one of the top squads in international play. He is still growing some and I think he will be a 87 or 88 by the time he hits his prime years in a couple more seasons.
Mike Ribeiro – 84: Ribs is still here in Dallas after all the trade rumors, and I think for now that will work. Ribeiro is a solid #2 center behind Richards and everyone knows his is a great passer and play-maker. But last year he did not fit in as well with the new offense brought in with Coach Crawford, and he was out for a while with the facial injury. Still, 53 points in 66 games is not bad. And if he can adjust a little more to the new style and work a bit more on his defense then I do not see the Stars considering moving him.
Brenden Morrow – 84: Oh captain, our captain. Please return to form soon. Morrow had been a consistent performer for this team for years, but two years full of injures and decreased production have lead some fans to wonder if we no longer have the same Morrow taking the ice for the Stars. This last season, he did not look the same. But what is puzzling is that during the Olympics he looked like vintage Brenden and was playing great, yet as soon as he came back to Dallas it fizzled away. He looked less physical, seemed to have lost half a step, and was less accurate when he was getting shots. But we saw during the Olympics that he still has “it” somewhere in him, now he just has to find it. If he can then it will greatly help this team.
James Neal – 83: The future of the Stars, at least for their forwards is starting to shine now. Neal is a big part of that along with Eriksson and Benn. At 23, he has already played 2 full seasons at the NHL level and has scored 24 and 27 respectively. What shows his growth is that his assists more then doubled from 13 to 28 and the coaching staff started to play him in all sorts of situations. He spent time on the RW alongside Richards and also saw plenty of time on multiple lines at LW. His future looks bright and I think he will be a 86-87 in another couple years and a solid top-line power forward.
Steve Ott – 82: Otter is quickly becoming not only a fan favorite, but a team leader for the Stars. It was a good move when the Stars signed him to a new extension, as I think Ott is leadership material and he is more then just an agitator and grit player. He has shown growth in adding a scoring touch, has played center at some times when it is needed, and has shown he can not just agitate but also lock down and opposing player sometimes. Morrow’s leadership on the ice seems to have faded a bit, but Ott has stepped up and shown he might be able to fill those shoes long-term if Morrow can not find his old form.
That is it for the first part of the forwards, stay tuned tomorrow to find out how I rate the rest of the forwards. Guys like Benn, Segal, Brunnstrom, and Wandell will get covered in part 2. As always you can follow Blackoutdallas on twitter for my thoughts and updates everyday.