With the high point of the 2019 offseason in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the Dallas Stars to begin looking ahead to the regular season. And after a summer of quality additions, how might their lineup pan out?
In just two months, the Dallas Stars will welcome the St. Louis Blues to the American Airlines Center to begin their 2019 preseason slate. And while that may seem like a significant amount of time, think about this: the Stars’ 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs run ended over two months ago.
So, in theory, the offseason is over halfway done. And boy, has a lot happened since it officially kicked off on May 9, 2019.
With the first half of every offseason comes with questions, uncertainties, safe bets, and risks for every NHL team. Players are released, signed, extended, and traded for, while every front office hopes that the moves they make are not only the correct ones, but also among the best ones across the NHL.
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For the Dallas Stars, their 2019 offseason journey has included a little bit of everything.
They went through the decision-making process with pending UFAs like Jason Spezza, Marc Methot, Roman Polak, Taylor Fedun, and Ben Lovejoy. They went through a negotiation war with Mats Zuccarello before deciding to part ways. They hired another former NHL head coach in John Stevens to serve on Jim Montgomery‘s staff. They cut ties with young, developing players like Brett Ritchie and put Julius Honka on the trade block. They endured the quietest NHL Entry Draft in terms of picks in the Jim Nill era. They re-signed well-known RFAs like Mattias Janmark and Jason Dickinson and avoided arbitration entirely.
And to top it all off, Nill put together the busiest July 1 of any NHL team by signing a group of high-profile Pacific division veterans in Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, Andrej Sekera. Just like the rest of the League, Nill is banking on the addition of these players to help a team that fell one goal short of a trip to the Western Conference Finals take the next step.
In this specific instance, the analysts are saying all of the right things.
“The Stars should be right in the mix for the Cup in the 2019-20 season.”
“Dallas checked most, if not all, of their boxes this summer and should be in a spot to contend.”
“The Dallas Stars have a chance to be a real player in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
Pucks and Pitchforks
And while all of the positive comments and the sharp rise in odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup are motivational factors, nothing is proven. Nothing can be proven until the team takes the ice on Oct. 3 against the Boston Bruins. Until then, it’s nothing but dreams on paper.
That’s where Jim Montgomery comes up to bat. He’s been cautiously waiting in the on-deck circle while Nill has been in the batter’s box, taking heavy swings to put the second-year head coach in a position to succeed.
But now, Nill is on base and it’s time for Montgomery to bring him and his efforts home.
As mentioned above, Montgomery won’t have his first real chance at doing so until the regular season begins. But while we navigate the quietest part of the NHL summer and await the beginning of training camp, now is as good of a time as any to start looking at some potential line combinations that could work for Montgomery.
Now, let’s go through a few disclaimers. First, these lines are based on a combination of skill sets, past history, and a little bit of speculation. Montgomery, like some of his predecessors on the Dallas bench, is known for switching his lines on the fly in a constant search for finding a combination that clicks. There’s a chance that the lines he is using at opening puck drop aren’t the ones he will be using when the final buzzer sounds on a give game night. That’s how he works.
On top of that, these lines may not be like any of the projected lines you’ve already read about, and that’s okay. There isn’t a right or wrong answer and there truly are a multitude of ways that Montgomery could go with it. Nill has set him up nicely with a handful of superstar players as well as a few complimentary pieces, so the combinations seem endless.
With that being said, let’s take a quick dive into how the opening night lineup on offense could shape up (we’ll look at defense a little further down the road).
Jason Dickinson – Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski
Mattias Janmark – Ty Dellandrea – Blake Comeau
Extras: Denis Gurianov, Justin Dowling
Considering the newness of this look, take a moment to absorb it all. Now, let’s look at it.