What’s up with Jamie Benn?
For years, he was the offensive catalyst in Dallas, but the Stars captain was a shadow of his former self last season and it didn’t go unnoticed. At one point, he was publicly called out by franchise CEO Jim Lites. Benn’s 53-point output was a 26-point step backward, and missed time can’t be blamed as he skated in all but four games last season. He’s never been the swiftest or most agile skater, but Benn has always been able to use his size and strength to his advantage. If his physical brand of play is catching up to him at age 30, that’s a big concern for the Stars, who need Benn at his best to ensure they have depth to their attack.
Have the secondary scoring issues been addressed?
Gone are the days of the run-and-gun Stars. In fact, Dallas had one of the more toothless attacks in the NHL last season, netting a meager 209 goals, tied for the third-fewest in the league. The Stars didn’t sit back this summer, though, instead giving former Rocket Richard Trophy winner Corey Perry a chance to recapture his former glory on a one-year deal after being bought out by Anaheim. Then Dallasinked veteran goal-scorer Joe Pavelski from San Jose to a three-year pact. Those two alone have the potential to bring another 40-plus goals to the lineup, and doing so would take significant pressure off Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov.
Can Ben Bishop stay healthy?
It’s been the story of the big goaltender’s career. He has missed more than 50 games over the past five seasons, an average of 10-plus per campaign, and it seems that the ailments always come at inopportune moments. Three times he missed games during the post-season, and he missed four of the final five games of last season before returning for the playoffs. When he’s healthy, though, he’s been excellent, and that certainly includes last season’s performance when he posted a league-best .934 save percentage. If he’s healthy all season, Dallas has a brick wall in goal. If he’s not, Anton Khudobin will be forced to carry the crease. He’s a solid veteran backup, and his numbers were good last season, but he’s no Bishop.
Stanley Cup Odds: 24/1
Denis Gurianovgot a 21-game taste of life in the NHL last season, and he’s going to be a first-choice call-up from the minors if he doesn’t make the Stars out of camp. His 20-goal, 48-point output in 57 AHL games is tantalizing and, if it translates to the big club, he’ll be a second-liner in short order.