The NHL offseason is just 3-6 short Stanley Cup games away and some change in the form of days. But it will be here before you know it. And it will be a very important one for the Dallas Stars.
In yesterday’s article, I explained what the Stars’ management was explicitly looking for, mainly being a 2nd line center, and I told you of a few potential targets they could aim for.
Well, to end this 3 part series, I’m gonna tell you what I think the Stars need and who could fill the necessary voids:
The Stars’ Needs:
The Dallas Stars better be ready to strap in and get gritty in an offseason that could potentially mean the most in the long run to the Cup. I’ve already covered Dallas’ necessity for a backup center. Here are a few certain positions and names I feel the Stars must look at in July if they are planning on making a Cup run come next summer.
I think this honestly goes without saying. The Stars not just NEED TO, but MUST find a Top 2 D-man to contend with the big boys of the NHL next year.
The Stars defense was more than massacred this past season and it was due to a few bad breaks in their overall scheme. Stephane Robidas, the face of the Stars’ defensive game, snapped his leg in 2 different places against the Chicago Blackhawks back on November 29th, and it all seemed to go downhill from there. The former assistant captain had proved that he was for the most part carrying the defense and it suffered when he suffered.
With the only other true experience coming from Sergei Gonchar, who truly had a devastating season as well, they seemed lost. The forwards were able to help some nights by getting the pucks out of the zone, but when they didn’t, Lehtonen would be peppered with 40-50 shots and most likely be pulled due to his lacking ability to transform into a superhuman brick wall.
Alex Goligoski was on at times but seemed to be lacking in defensive firepower most of the season, which caused many fans to turn against him and demand Nill to trade him off as well as send Gonchar to the retirement home for good.
Trevor Daley was helpful down the stretch in March and April, but suffered a two week lower body injury that happened about the same time as Robidas’, which left the Stars’ defense with no skilled veterans.
Their penalty kill proved ineffective and almost useless compared to previous years. The blue line was overall worthless this year, and needs to be improved if they want to shoot for the stars (hehe) and get to the Cup next year.
The young faces like Brenden Dillon and Jordie Benn will be able to fill in the third line gap, along with Nemeth and Connauton, possibly Rome, to fill in for injuries throughout the season. Daley and Goligoski can fill the second line, or first, wherever Ruff puts em. But Gonchar needs someone to tango with. And this is where the Stars need to shift their focus. Here are a few choices that they could look into:
This guy needs a fresh start. And the Stars seem like a perfect match. With Buffalo being a reconstruction zone mess, the Stars could offer Rome or younglings like Connauton or Nemeth, maybe Horcoff or Chiasson as a sweetener. But the Stars could really use this physical kid to help get the defense moving.
Now get all your hate out for this little ducky before you read my opinion…. Okay got it all out? This is a smart move for the Stars. If they trade someone good for him, like Horcoff and Peverley, or Gonchar and Dillon, they will make out like gangbusters. Fowler moves the puck extremely well and with his young age, the Ducks might be willing to trade for even younger talent.
This would be a free agent move and it would be a crazy awesome addition to the Stars blue line. If they can dump a few of the UFA’s like I said in my article, they can open plenty of cap space to make an offer to Niskanen that he couldn’t refuse. Niskanen has played for the Pens for a while now since moving there from Dallas, and a return to Big D would be oh so sweet for both parties.
The Stars will have plenty of options in the FA market as well as on the trade block and they will need to take advantage of these if they are going to find the right backup goalie that will be able to help the acrobatic and larcenous (thanks Razor) spider monkey (again thank you Razor) from Finland, Kari Lehtonen.
The Stars backup goalie has been an ugly mess for the last few years…..
Who remembers Andrew Raycroft? Or do you even want to? The guy was just never able to find his feet when backing up Lehtonen. And that resulted in him getting the boot after 2 seasons.
And in came Richard Bachman. Now this guy was the living embodiment of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was either up for a 50/50 performance or not ready to make 10 saves in a total game. His record in his last season in Dallas was average at 6-5-0 but his save percentage was an awful .885 and he chopped up a 3.25 GAA. Now if you remember, some games were great, and as I said, some games you were ready to turn the TV off at first intermission.
Well howdy Jim Nill and with that a howdy doo to former Star Dan Ellis! His numbers in his shortened season with Dallas were average (do you see a recurring theme?). In 11 games, his record ended up at 5-6 with a .900 save percentage and a 3.04 GAA. The highlights of his season came during the Dallas Icepocalypse when the Stars handled the Philadelphia Flyers almost too easily 5-1 and Ellis stopped 27 of 28 and then his 26 save shutout against our newfound rivals the Anaheim Ducks which turned Ellis into a hero in Dallas….. until he was traded to Florida a month later for a different goalie.
Enter stage right Tim Thomas. The 40 year old came to Dallas after sharing the starting job in Florida for half a season and performed rather averagely (ugh this isn’t funny anymore). He finished 2-4-1with a .902 save percentage and a 2.97 GAA which isn’t horrific. But can the 40 year old produce these numbers in a possible next season return to the NHL? I’m not ready to take that chance, but sadly I don’t make those decisions for Dallas.
So as you see the Stars have been stuck in a rut of average goalies for the past few years. Why can’t we be like Carolina with Anton Khudobin and Cam Ward or Anaheim with Frederik Andersen and Jonas Hiller? Well, with a potential pick up in the offseason, we could!
I’ve mentioned the name before, and that’s because the Stars could really use him. He put up tremendous numbers for Boston this season and backstopped Tuukka Rask tremendously. But being a free agent on July 1st, a lot of teams will be in the hunt for him, including the Bruins. But if the Stars could pick him up, they would be ready for a Cup run in the goaltending department for many years to come.
Another very smart move. Greiss backstopped for Phoenix this past season and did a fantastic job. He posted a 10-8-5 record with a .920 save percentage and a 2.29 GAA. This could be the exact face the Stars are looking for to move down the playoff road with. And being a UFA this July, the Stars could make a valiant push to pick him up.
WHHHHAAAAAA????!!! Yes accept it and move on Stars fans! But be happy about this! This is a reasonable choice for the Stars to look into. And not necessarily to be the full time backup…. If the Stars could truly land this blockbuster of a catch, he and Lehtonen would most likely share the playing time, a little 41/41 action and then some playoff partying all the way to the Cup. This would almost break the Stars’ bank and that is the main reason they probably will not go for this move, but it would pay off major in the long run and crazier things HAVE happened.
The Stars need these gaps filled to get to the Cup. And they can because the guy manning the helm is perfectly capable! I believe in Jim Nill and I know he will take us to the promised land. Its just a matter of how fast he’s gonna get us there!
That’s the end of this mini series! Comments please and GO STARS