Goligoski, more affectionately referred to as Goose by fans and teammates alike, came to the Dallas Stars in a still-divisive trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Goligoski was sent to the Stars in a three player deal that sent young winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Penguins. Goligoski’s 15 points in 23 post-trade games and James Neal’s 6 points (with just a single goal) in 20 post-trade games had many Stars fans declaring the trade a victory for Dallas, but the 2011-2012 season created an entirely new level of debate that continues to this day. James Neal was one of the more surprising stories of the season, breaking out for a career high 40 goals and 81 points. Alex Goligoski, on the other hand, battled a wrist injury and didn’t satisfy the lofty expectations we the fans had set for him. His 9 goals and 30 points led all Stars defenseman in scoring, but many fans were left wanting more. The jury will be out on that trade for years to come and now is not the time to debate who won what. Instead, we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season and what Goose needs to do to both satisfy fan and management expectations and turn himself into the Stars number one defenseman.
Perhaps referring to Alex Goligoski as a “number one defenseman” is a bit much, for it’s obvious he’s not Shea Weber or Zdeno Chara, but for the Stars, he’s the best option heading into this season. He was given a massive 4 year, $18.4 million contract extension that, as of this moment, makes him the highest paid Dallas Star with a $4.6 million cap hit. He is this team’s number one defenseman and he will need to play like it. He is an essential cog in the machine that is the Dallas Stars heading into the future and with Stephane Robidas recently turning 35 and likely not apart of the team’s long term plans, it’s time for Goligoski to shape himself into the next leader on the blueline. He’s not the type of player who will intimidate the opposition with his size, but his smooth skating and penchant for being a playmaker with an above average shot from the point makes him the best dual threat the Stars have on the roster. In a sentence, Alex Goligoski needs to increase his point production, continue to grow and improve his defensive game, and accept and embrace his role as a leader and invaluable member of the Dallas Stars moving forward. The 2012-2013 season will tell us a lot about who exactly Goligoski will be for this team. The pressure is apparent, can he step up to the challenge?
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