Congratulations weary traveler, you’ve made it through the long hockey Summer! With the Traverse City Prospect Tournament in our rearview mirror, the next item on the calendar is the one and only, Dallas Stars training camp. The freshly showcased prospects will join forces with the grizzled vets this Thursday to prep for the much-anticipated campaign of 2023-2024.
After a relatively low-event offseason, the team enters the year with a bevy of interesting storylines that will shape the course of the season. With all of these developing stories, there are 3 that stand out from the rest.
Dallas Stars Training Camp Questions: 3. How will Matt Duchene fit in on the Power Play?
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the Stars have found themselves as beneficiaries of Nashville’s rebuild as Matt Duchene’s new employer. However, last year’s business practices led to the 7th best power play unit in the league.
Elite talents on the top unit of Robo, Roope, Miro, & Pavs are cemented into place. After last year’s Bennaissance, would the Stars want to mess with the mojo of their top line? If there’s a player that could step in at replacement level or better, it’s certainly Duchene.
However, the air consistently left the building when Ryan Suter trotted out to QB the second PP unit in ’22-’23 and the forward group didn’t inspire much to make up for his deficiencies. Although Duchene is a top-line talent, he would revamp a second unit in desperate need of an upgrade.
This comes at a particularly crucial time since one of the young guns (either Nils Lundkvist or Thomas Harley) will be honing their PP craft on the blue line. The continuity of having the same linemates on the second unit also helps the flow of deployment and Duchene maintaining offensive chemistry with Seguin is imperative to the team’s offense. Whether on line 1 or 2, determining Duchene’s fit is a good problem to have.
Dallas Stars Training Camp Questions: 2. How will the Stars replace Kiviranta & Glendening on the PK?
The Stars are fortunate enough to have two of the best assistant coaches in the league, producing top 10 power play and penalty kill units last season. A lot of their success came from inherited personnel, as is the situation for the top power play unit.
In the penalty kill’s case, the workload is divided fairly evenly by the top 6 forwards and a third of those top 6 are gone. Glendening was far & away this team’s best penalty killer for the past two years and Kiviranta ate up some solid minutes in the second forward pairing. The candidates for replacing those meaningful minutes are not as plentiful as it would seem.
Ideally, Sam Steel could slot in on the top PK pairing with his assumed fellow 4th liner Radek Faksa. The issue here is that Sam Steel is the most likely healthy scratch or player moved to make space to incorporate another. Perhaps the effectiveness of Duchene’s deployment on the 2nd unit allows Roope more time allocated for killing penalties and he can secure his first Selke trophy this year.
Another item that could be leveraged is PK time for those who have a bit more to prove. Mason Marchment is coming off a disappointing first season in Dallas and may need to step into a penalty-killing role to make up for the lackluster offensive output.
Dallas Stars Training Camp Questions: 1. How much have the young guns progressed?
The aforementioned “low event” offseason was a symptom of the youth movement that will be taking the Stars by storm these next few years. Everyone is excited to see how Wyatt Johnston follows up his 41-point rookie campaign and his style of play indicates that it’s only up from here. As Wyatt blossoms into a 2nd line center, the young forward combo of Stankoven and Bourque are also looking for their shot at a big league callup.
Both shined, as expected, in Traverse City this past weekend and are gathering hype as the impending season may provide their launch point. This forward group has a great mix of youth and veteran leadership and will look to take major steps this year to develop a championship-level core.
The defensive side is much more pressing for the burgeoning Stars of the blue line. Thomas Harley looks poised to run with his new top 4 role, and he’s also had a few chances on the 2nd power play unit at the end of the year.
With Lundkvist expected to stick in the lineup, he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s to wrestle away that power play position from Harley. Beyond that, he also needs to prove that he can stick in the lineup and be depended on in crunch time. Of course, Lian Bichsel is a bit of a wild card because of his low expectations at the top level but everyone’s excited for his preseason nonetheless.
Dallas Stars Training Camp Questions: Closing Sentiments
There’s a ton of buzz around this team after a conference final appearance last season and the culmination of the team-building these past two years. The implications of these 3 core storylines will be solid indicators of how much success they’re able to have early in the year. The first year of this team’s cup window is upon us and we’re all eager to see how it unfolds.