We’re a few weeks out from puck drop on the 2017-18 season. While there is a lot unknown about how the course of the year will go for the Dallas Stars, it’s almost certain there will be a breakout player on the blue line.
The Dallas Stars’ defensive core has been revamped in the most dramatic of ways over the last few years. Under the guidance of a number of trades by Jim Nill, Dallas has become significantly more competitive (on paper) defensively.
While that will hopefully translate to on-ice play, nothing is certain in the NHL. However, the Stars can hope to have at least one breakout player on the blue line this season. Expectations are high across the board, but it makes sense that Esa Lindell will be that player for Dallas.
Inexperience at NHL level
Lindell is a young, up-and-coming defender in the league. He has 77 NHL games under his belt – not even a full 82-game season. That is good for a number of reasons, but leaves room for improvement as well.
There’s been stiff competition over the last few years for the coveted Stars defensive spots. Players fought tooth and nail to stay healthy and consistently have their name called. Lindell, however, proved to be the most successful of the group.
The confidence he acquired from earning such a sought after position will surely influence his sophomore season. Add to that the generalization of the dreaded “sophomore slump” and you’ve got the perfect combination for a surprisingly impressive season.
Avoiding the spotlight
No. 23 has the advantage of less name recognition than his colleague John Klingberg. The team hasn’t built its defensive core around him. Teams likely don’t single him out in their defensive strategies. In short, he’s not a big-name player.
Lindell can take this relative lack of pressure and turn it into something great this season. While Klingberg deals with the challenge of facing the league’s best forwards night after night, Lindell can rest assured that his likely position on the second defensive pairing will yield more opportunities for improvement.
Being behind the scenes in a sense will help Lindell to really develop his game and learn the ropes even more. Based on his first season suiting up for the Stars, he seems like the kind of guy who doesn’t mind being out of the spotlight and just getting his work done. For that reason, he’ll be able to blindside teams with his skill.
Lindell will be a staple on the blue line for the Stars this season and has proven in his rookie year that he can play in a variety of scenarios. While those in and around the organization can attest to the potential and proven greatness that Lindell brings to the table, it seems as if the rest of the league has yet to catch on.
That makes him the perfect breakout defensive player.