NHL 2011-12 Season Preview: Dallas Stars

Key Offseason Losses: Brad Richards, James Neal, Jamie Langenbrunner

Key Offseason Additions: Michael Ryder, Radek Dvorak, Vernon Fiddler, Jake Dowell, Sheldon Souray

Last Season Ranking: 9th in the West

Offense: It is hard not to think how the pending bankruptcy and sale of the Dallas Stars will negatively impact the overall play of the team. The Stars will be going through a lot of tough times this season, on the ice being a major one.

Two big players, Brad Richards and James Neal, both have found new organizations to play for. Together, the two scored 49 goals and assisted on 67 others. That is 22% of the teams overall goals scored and 19% of of the Stars’ overall points.

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen is actually a good goalie. Unfortunately for him, the Dallas Stars do not have the offensive firepower this year to help him out.

Making things worse, the team added only one superstar and a few depth players to fill the gaps. Michael Ryder is coming off of a long season winning the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. Ryder is averaging 47 points over 7 seasons, but lackluster line mates on the second line may decrease his output. From a fantasy perspective, if he does get bumped up to the top line or plays along side Brendan Morrow or Mike Ribeiro, or if Ryder sees time on the power play, the odds of him reaching his average points greatly increases.

Radek Dvorak and Vernon Fiddler should be decent additions for depth on the third line, however, both players are in their 30’s in a game that has continually seen younger and younger players dominate.

Brendon Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson will continue to be called upon to lead the team throughout the season. Morrow seems to be healthy from his right knee surgery in 2009 that sidelined him for 64 games. Last season he played all 82 games. Ribeiro continues to be a point getter, assisting on 52 goals last year. The Stars hope he can improve upon his 20 goal range though. Lastly, Eriksson continues to become an elite athlete coming into his 6th season. Throughout his career, Eriksson has 257 points in 371 games, most recently, two seasons in a row over the 70 point mark.

Defense: The Stars need to better their defense to be any type of competitor this season. Top players Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski had excellent point production seasons, but the two need to better their overall plus/minus. Perhaps the two need to take some notes from Trevor Daley and Nicklas Grossman who both had a plus 7 rating over the season.

Dallas did pick up one more piece in the off-season, that being big named, hard slapshot, Sheldon Souray. Souray really upset people with the Edmonton Oilers’ organization, seeing his contract bought out and kicked to the curb. In part, it was his high cap hit that deterred teams from picking him up and instead saw him play in the AHL by being loaned to the Hershey Bears. At a modest 1.65 million 1-year contract from the Stars, if Souray wants to continue in the NHL, this year is a make or break for him.

Goaltending: Many fans were upset when Marty Turco left the team to go play for the Chicago Blackhawks, but in hindsight, where is Turco now? Kari Lehtonen takes the number one spot and is actually a solid netminder. A 34-24-11 record last year did not give any justice to his 2.55 goals against average. Not convinced? Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres had a 2.59 goals against average.

Playoff Prediction: Not making the playoffs. A pending bankruptcy and sale of the team, factor with a lack of offense, the Dallas Stars will come up short again this year.

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