Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi and new GM Jim Nill made plenty of off-season moves and formed a new look (literally) team in Dallas. With new faces like Shawn Horcoff, Tyler Seguin, and Rich Peverley among others, there’s still a stable of young, developing talent ready to claim their spot among the top players on the team, or even the league. Here are the players most likely to make a name for themselves in the NHL this season:
1st Period: Brenden Dillon
Dillon is 6′ 4″, which means he’s grown nearly a foot since he was passed over in the WHL Bantam Draft. Kudos to Joe Nieuwendyk for finding this late bloomer. He’s strong, physical, can drop the mitts at any given time. He can carry the puck well, but his offensive game is still a work in progress. In one shortened season, Dillon is now a fan favorite and becoming one of the young leaders on this team. The Stars will name a new captain before the start of the season, and though Jamie Benn is the current favorite to get the captaincy, Dillon’s name is a big part of that discussion. When Stars fans see Dillon’s style of play, they are quickly reminded of former Stars Captain Derian Hatcher. Though Jonathan Huberdeau deserved the Calder Trophy over Dillon in 2013, Dillon should have at least been more in the discussion for the award. With that, look for Dillon to finally get the national attention he deserves this season.
2nd Period: Alex Chiasson
Chiasson is an interesting player because we now know what he’s capable of accomplishing, but we still are unsure what Chiasson will bring this season because we only saw him in action for six games. He was called up late in the season from the AHL after the semi-fire sale (Morrow to Pittsburgh, Jagr to Boston) to fill in the holes, and he shocked us all with his remarkable NHL start. He was put on the same line as Ray Whitney, and with Whitney’s “wizardry”, he and Chiasson found instant chemistry. In six games, he lit the lamp six times. Chiasson was sidelined with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season. It’ll be interesting to see what Chiasson can do this season. He has the ability, the size, and the hockey sense. But, will Chiasson continue his solid start or was last season a fluke? I’m predicting the former…
3rd Period: Cody Eakin
Cody Eakin is probably the least likely of the three to “break-out”, but don’t let that be a knock on the kid. It’s not his fault he’s a player with great potential on a team full of other players with great potential. Eakin has tenacity and plays with a different energy than everyone else on the ice. Eakin, or as fan-adored Stars color commentator Daryl Reaugh calls him, the “Ginga Ninja” is a quick, feisty player who’s game continues to improve. He’s the example of a good third line center, and he’s still improving. How much of a leap can he make in 2013-2014? We’ll just have to see what he can add to his game. I think Eakin will surprise a lot of people with his play this season.