Our Dallas Stars 2021-22 Preview is a part of our 2021-22 NHL Team Preview Series. Starting September 9th, we have covered one team per day in the leadup to the 2021-22 season. After a crazy busy offseason with a ton of player movement we need something to help summarize what happened and give an outlook of the impact on each team. Make sure to check back each day for the next team in the list!
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The Dallas Stars are coming off a disappointing season. They followed up their somewhat surprising Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2019-2020 with a season where they missed playoffs. The team dropped from 3rd in the Central in 2019-2020 to 5th last season.
How did that happen?
Well they were in a “Central Division” which included really good teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers.
But perhaps the most obvious reason Dallas disappointed is the numerous missed opportunities to put games away. They finished the season with a 23-19-14 record and 60 points. Yes…14 overtime and shootout losses. That was the most in the league and even if they won half those games they likely would have been a playoff team. It honestly could have made the difference as they only finished 4 points back from Nashville, which did make playoffs with a 31-23-2 record.
Another main reason was that a lot of the team’s core missed significant chunks of time. Ben Bishop missed the entire season despite rumours he would return late in the year ahead of playoffs. It’s possible becuase of where the team was standings wise, he simply stayed out to focus on being healthy for the 2021-2022 season. Two thirds of the top line also missed time. Tyler Seguin played only 3 games and Alexander Radulov only played 11. The team did well to absorb Bishop’s continued absence with a tandem of Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger, but the loss of Seguin and Radulov was noticeable. The team finished 18th in the league in goals for, with 156. This needs to increase. In goals against the club was 9th in the league with 148 against. A lot of close games, as made clear by the plentiful overtime and shootout losses. That top end scoring could have helped them out a lot. The team’s penalty kill wasn’t amazing either with a 79.1% effectiveness.
So what did go right for the team?
They were in games. They just got bettered in extra time. They ended up with the 5th powerplay in the league at 23.6% effective, although it was streaky. The goals against being top 10 in the league was great too, showing they were apt at keeping pucks out of the net. Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson really seemed to shine with the increased opportunity throughout the season. Hintz put up 43 points in 41 games even with a nagging injury all season. He was a real driver of offense for the Stars and it was noticeable when he wasn’t in the lineup. Jason Robertson for his part, put himself in Calder Trophy contention for best rookie of the season. He was second on the team in points with 45 in 51 games. Honestly both these guys were fun to watch all season.
- Ryan Suter
- Jani Hakanpaa
- Braden Holtby
- Michael Raffl
- Luke Glendening
- Andreas Borgman
- Jamie Oleksiak
- Jason Dickinson
- Andrew Cogliano
- Mark Pysyk
- Sami Vatanen
I’m excited to see what the Stars can generate offensively this season. They’ll have Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov back. How will these two look after so much time off? The former first line of Benn-Seguin-Radulov could be reuinted. Benn took a drop off without those two production wise, but if reuinted maybe he produces more. Even if they don’t play together these three don’t have to be relied on for every goal and that’s a great thing. The rest of the top 6 looks to be comprised of Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, and Jason Robertson. Pavelski is definitely one of the best signings of the Stars recently as he had a quiet 51 points in 56 games last season. Denis Gurianov could crack the top 6 also, but he really needs to be a more consistent scorer.
The bottom 6 will look a bit different this season. They’ll still have Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau to provide some defense, and playoff hero Joel Kiviranta. After this though they have new faces in Michael Raffl and Luke Glendening.
Callups/ scratches will include Tanner Kero, Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Joel L’Esperance.
Depending on how the former top line bounces back, this team could actually have a lot of depth on forward, which feels weird to say about the Dallas Stars.
The Stars should be set on defense.
The top pairing on paper will likely be Esa Lindell and John Klingberg. These two are consistent and relied upon defenders for the team, and head coach Rick Bowness knows exactly what he’s going to get with them.
Jamie Oleksiak and Miro Heiskanen were probably one of the best defensive pairings in the league. With the big rig gone, Miro will be looking for a new primary partner, and it will most likely be Ryan Suter. I actually think this could work quite well because Heiskanen is so damn good and Suter will bring an interesting veteran presence to the team. He was still a good player in Minnesota, his contract just couldn’t work there anymore.
The bottom pairing is set to be Andrej Sekera and newcomer Jani Hakanpaa. I actually think Hakanpaa had a mini coming out party as a solid defensive defenseman in the league. At 29 he’s not exactly an inexperienced player so I think he’ll settle in nicely in Dallas.
Notably they’ve got prospect Thomas Harley who might compete for some minutes here. Joel Hanley and Andreas Borgman will be available to fill in also.
This is where the real story with Dallas is. They have Ben Bishop on injury reserve as well as Anton Khudobin, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger all signed. The Holtby move raised an eyebrow to a lot of fans and people around the league. Do they plan on trading someone? Is Bishop ever coming back? Didn’t Jake Oettinger earn a backup role with a 2.36 goals against average and a 0.911 save percentage in 29 games last season? I thought the answer was yes. Especially when you compare that to Khudobin who played 32 games and had a 2.54 goals against average and a 0.905 save percentage. Oettinger looked better. Khudobin seemed to struggle at times in his first year as a starter in the NHL.
Braden Holtby has really fallen off too with a 3.67 goals against and a 0.899 save percentage last season in 21 games for Vancouver. The year prior he was poor in Washington too with a 3.11 goals against and a 0.897 save percentage. I don’t understand the move to bring Holtby in and if he’s bumping Oettinger to the minors its just an objectively bad move that doesn’t make sense on paper. With all these goalies something has to be in the works. I just don’t see this being sustainable into the season.
Dallas Stars 2021-22 Prediction
Being back in the normal Central division without Tampa Bay, Carolina and Florida on its own is good news for the team. With some of the core players being available day 1 of the season they should be better equipped for a playoff push this year. The real story is just what will happen between the pipes for the team, with 4 NHL calibre goalies on the books for the season. Overall I predict the Stars to bounce back this season and for Hintz, Robertson, Heiskanen, Oettinger, and Gurianov to really take the torch this season and establish themselves as the next core of this team.
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