With the addition of Martin Hanzal in the offseason, the Dallas Stars now have an overstocking of natural centers on their roster. With that being said, who is going to shift to the empty wing spot?
Do you ever have a chance to do something or acquire something that you don’t necessarily need, but the offer is simply too good to pass up? For instance: you’re walking through the store and you see an item that is on sale and though you don’t need it, a deal like this doesn’t come along everyday.
This is how many Dallas Stars fans felt when they awoke on the morning of July 1 and heard the rumors that their favorite team was in the hunt for free agent center Martin Hanzal.
Last season, the Stars’ biggest strength was at the center position. That’s due in part to the fact that the rest of the team struggled in what turned out to be the second worst season in franchise history, but it’s also in part to the fact that Dallas owns a solid group down the middle.
Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Cody Eakin, Radek Faksa, Devin Shore, and Adam Cracknell spent large portions of last season at the center position and helped carry the Dallas offense. Through these six players, the Stars had an impressive balance of speed, puck-handling, scoring, defense, and special teams help, making their center group the most effective unit.
Blackout Dallas 0d - Dallas Stars win first game of the season in OT 3-2
More headlines around FanSided:1d - Knights vs Kings: Date, Time, Odds, and More 1d - Dallas Stars release the 2021-2022 opening night roster 2d - Are you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year? 2d - Dear Jim Nill, trust your Dallas Stars prospects down in Cedar Park 2d - Detroit Red Wings: The 2021 NHL Central Division Preview
It’s also the most stable unit. Besides losing Cody Eakin in the expansion draft, every other member of the Stars’ center group is locked in for at least one more season.
And then there’s the addition of Hanzal on a three-year deal. While it is a good move for the Dallas Stars and Hanzal will bring a new edge to the team, there’s now an overstocking of centers that needs to be fixed.
With that being said, the Stars also seem to have a gap in their right wing. Going into the offseason, Brett Ritchie and Adam Cracknell (who plays both center and right wing) were the only two assumed wingers under contract for next season. With the addition of Alexander Radulov in free agency, the Stars now have three.
So it seems as though one center will need to shift to the right wing to complete the puzzle. Which center will that be? Let’s take a quick look at which centers are safe from a conversion.
Tyler Seguin has been the Stars’ number one center since coming to Dallas. While he can also play right wing, his talents are best utilized at center in the Stars’ system. He plays well down the middle and can set up an offensive rush whenever he has the puck. Not to mention that Ken Hitchcock has already stated that he wants Seguin to be the no. 1 center going forward. So it seems as though Seguin is safe. He’s the perfect top-line center to have in your lineup.
It also seems as though Radek Faksa is safe. He’s a defensive forward that can play big minutes in the dot, can win face-offs, and is a valuable presence down the middle. Also, lining him up on the third line between Antoine Roussel and Brett Ritchie seems like a match made in heaven on paper.
Considering the abundance of center talent on the roster and the need for right wingers, it seems as though Adam Cracknell will be slotted on the wing, at least to start the year. That leaves two center spots open and Martin Hanzal, Jason Spezza, and Devin Shore left to be placed.
Hanzal is one of the best face-off men in the league, is a dominant net-front presence down the middle, and finds the smart offensive chance with his vision. It would be hard to pass up a chance at having him as the no. 2 center behind Seguin.
That leaves Spezza and Shore, both of who can play on the right wing and still contribute and produce on a nightly effort. But which one is moved to the right wing?
At this point, it seems as though Spezza is the best choice, simply because of the position open. It seems like the second line right wing is the open slot, and Spezza’s talents are used much more effectively in the top six. He’s versatile, a great set-up man, has great speed, and is one of the more lethal snipers in the NHL.
Meanwhile, Shore will be entering his second year as an NHL player and could round out the Stars’ bottom six as the fourth line center. With his presence, the Dallas Stars would have significant depth to use on offense and would boast one of the best bottom-six units in the league.
Devin Shore can play all three positions on offense, so his services are always there if needed, while Cracknell and even center Gemel Smith can be available to fill in at center.
But for now, it seems like Jason Spezza is the likely candidate to shift over to the right wing while remaining on the second line. He has already proven his excellent chemistry with LW Mattias Janmark, and putting the two of them on either side of Hanzal could conjure up a strong and threatening second line. They would compliment each other well and give the Stars a great one-two punch in the top six.
So in this case, it seems as though too much of a good thing is even better.