Our Dallas Stars 2020-21 Preview is part of a one-a-day series covering the entire NHL. Click here for the rest of the teams in the leadup to another action-packed NHL season!
In last year’s playoffs the Stars were knocked out by the eventual cup winners, the St. Louis Blues in a tough 7 game series. The issue of the team was offense, so in the offseason, they added notable veterans Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski to bring some of the pressure of the top line and provide secondary scoring. At the beginning of the season, I pegged the Stars to go all the way and win the cup, and they actually went to their first Stanley Cup Final visit since 2000. They came oh so close eventually falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. The result of them getting so close is I feel a false sense of knowing-what-I’m-talking-about-itis, and a definite touch of fandom for the team.
It wasn’t all easy for the team though. The Stars faced some turbulence when head coach Jim Montgomery was dismissed somewhat unexpectedly on December 10th 2019 for a “material act of unprofessionalism”, which ended up being a substance abuse issue. Experienced assistant coach Rick Bowness filled in as interim head coach. He led the team to 20-13-5 in 38 games after Montgomery was relieved.
While the top line wasn’t publicly shamed by the team CEO, Jim Lites, like they were in December 2018, they still had their struggles. Tyler Seguin actually had a worse season in terms of points-per-game but still led the team with 50 points in 69 games. Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov were second and fourth on the team in points, with 39 and 34 points respectively. The reason they weren’t called out? Secondary scoring actually existed this year for the Stars.
While Corey Perry did a lot of Corey Perry things, like getting ejected in the outdoor classic game, Joe Pavelski was a huge addition to the team offensively. He earned 31 points in 67 games, including 3 game winning goals. But the best area of improvement was with two of the younger skilled players on the roster. Denis Gurianov clapped bombs all year and potted himself 20 goals and 9 assists. Roope Hintz had a little injury trouble and missed 9 games, but scored 33 points. Having some talented youth injected into the lineup provided the team with the ability to score more than 1 or 2 goals a game, and provide the team’s excellent goaltending some run support.
It didn’t take much run support because the team had the amazing tandem of Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin. They were amongst the league’s best.
|Category||Ben Bishop||Anton Khudobin|
|GAA||2.498 (10th in League)||2.218 (3rd in League)|
|Save Percentage||.9199 (10th in League)||.9297 (1st in League)|
|Goals Saved Above Average||13 (5th in League)||18 (3rd in League)|
When Ben Bishop wasn’t going to be able to play in the playoffs due to injury, it was easy for the team to trust Khudobin, and it’s not hard to understand why with those numbers.
On the blueline we got to see Miro Heiskanen’s sophomore year. Playing predominantly with Big Rig Jamie Oleksiak, Heiskanen flipped his -14 in his rookie season to a +14. He also earned 35 points, exceeding his rookie numbers by 2 points in 14 less games. I was ready to call him a franchise defenseman last year and he really hammered it home this season. He did all this while still only earning 14 PIMs. I really thought he was flying under the radar until the playoffs when thankfully he got the spotlight he deserves. I was so endeared by Heiskanen that I ended up betting with Sean I would buy a Heiskanen jersey if the Stars won the cup. They didn’t but I bought one anyway. #NoRegrets
In playoffs the Stars had another legend form on the team. Joel Kiviranta, a Finnish undrafted player acquired at the beginning of the season due to his appearance on the Finnish National Team’s World Championship gold medal winning team. Dallas took a flyer on him after he got 2 goals and 1 assist in 9 games for Finland. He had a slow season, only playing 11 regular season games and a stat line of only 1 goal. He was scratched for most of playoffs but had to suit up in game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche when Andrew Cogliano was injured. He completed a hat trick with the series winning overtime goal to send the team to the Western Conference finals. Seriously…rookie, game 7, hat trick. It doesn’t get any better. The Finnish call of the goal is amazing and a must watch.
In game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights the series was sitting at Dallas up 3 games to 1. In that game Vegas was up 2-1 with only 3:47 to go in the third and Joel Kiviranta tied the game up to force overtime. His clutch levels reminded me of Devante Smith-Pelley for the Capitals in 2018. Within the first 4 minutes of overtime, Denis Gurianov ripped a bomb to win the series.
The young players were great for Dallas. Gurianov had 9 goals in playoffs, and Heiskanen had 26 points for the team lead. The first line struggled at times, especially Tyler Seguin, but the depth of the team allowed them to overcome. Perry and Pavelski were downright excellent. At one point only they were scoring goals. Pavs ended up with 13 goals in the entirety of playoffs, putting himself amongst the playoff leaders.
The team had a lot of their defensive forwards get knocked out of playoffs with injuries. Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau, and Radek Faksa all missed time. Meaning the team was essentially without one of it’s forward lines.
Should they be dissapointed they lost? Absolutely, but the team was up against it with Tampa, and should be proud of what they accomplished given the state of their roster’s injuries and overall depth compared to Tampa Bay, who was only one season removed from tying the best all time record in hockey.
In the off season the Stars prioritized keeping existing talent. They extended, Denis Gurianov for 2 years, Hintz for 3, and Radek Faksa for 5. On the blueline they extended veteran Andrej Sekera, and were able to sign Julius Honka who was playing in Europe for the season to a 1 year deal after not signing last off season as an RFA. Anton Khudobin also got a nice raise and some stability finally in his career with a three year deal with the team. Because of these deals, it looks like Corey Perry will be packing his bags, despite really fitting in well in Dallas.
Unsurprisingly Rick Bowness was officially hired as head coach after taking the team through the playoffs and proving he was a capable leader.
- Mark Pysyk
- Julius Honka
- Corey Perry
- Martin Hanzal (Retired)
- Mattias Janmark
- Roman Polak
Dallas Stars Roster Overview
Captain Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov will still undoubtedly form the top line. All three of these guys had down years. Are they starting to regress or did they just have a bad year? I’m not particularly sold on either, and am going to give them a chance again. However, that being said, I’m not looking to draft any of them on my fantasy team.
Also there’s the small issue that Seguin had hip surgery in November and has a four month heal time, so the team will be without him if the league starts up in January.
Pavelski, Hintz and Gurianov should form up a second line. As the Benn line gets split up, any of these guys could slide up to line 1 in Seguin’s absence. If Hintz and Gurianov are fired up about their new contracts and keep improving, these will be a deadly 1-2 punch line combination.
The bottom six will comprise of Cogliano, Comeau, Faksa, Dickenson, Kiviranta and Justin Dowling. Outside of those guys there’s Joel L’Esperance, Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea and a few others that might see time with the big club.
It still seems kind of strange to say this but defense should be a real strength of the team. The top pairing of Lindell and Klingberg will be great. Klingberg is very gifted offensively and Lindell provides some stability.
The second unit is Heiskanen and Oleksiak. I think I made myself clear earlier how much I like Heiskanen out there.
The team re-resigned Andrej Sekera so he’ll be returning on the third pairing with Stephen Johns. Johns was a finalist for the Bill Masterton trophy this year, which is awarded to players that overcome adversities. In 2018 John’s suffered a concussion and had a long road of post-concussion syndrome which kept him away from the game. He had bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts and thought he’d never play again. He ended up coming back almost 22 months later and suited up for 17 games with the Stars this year and played 4 games in playoffs. Hopefully he can stay healthy and play on the third pairing.
Julius Honka, Mark Pysyk, Joel Hanley and Taylor Fedun all will provide some depth to the lineup.
Of note is that veteran Roman Polak left, but was already becoming the odd man out getting scratched before the Covid break. Sekera and Johns bumped him out of the lineup. He ended up signing a three year deal in Europe and leaving the NHL.
It’s going to be interesting to see how and if Ben Bishop bounces back from his injury. He missed a significant amount of time and did not look good in his time in playoffs. Anton Khudobin will be back and can provide some outstanding goaltending, but he’s never been a starter. If he has to play more games than he’s used to over a long period of time I’m not sure how that may pan out. If Bishop can play, the team is set though.
Dallas Stars 2020-2021 Prediction
2nd Central Division
Dallas proved that they have awesome goaltending and some young talent at both forward and defense. If their youth keep improving and the stars on the team have more career average years, they will still be competitive coming off their Stanley Cup Finals loss.
That concludes our Dallas Stars 2020-21 Preview. Check to see if your team has been covered yet in our 2020-21 Season Preview Series.
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