The Dallas Stars were supposed to join the NHL’s elite this season. They made the playoffs last year on the strength of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn’s sublime chemistry, and an off-season Jason Spezza trade made them a one-line team no more. Instead, Dallas regressed, missing the playoffs. Its offense remained outstanding, but few teams struggled as much preventing goals.
Round 1, pick 12
Round 2, pick 49
Round 4, pick 103
Round 5, pick 133
Round 6, pick 163
Round 7, pick 193
The Stars have many young, improving defensemen, from John Klingberg already on the big club to Julius Honka developing on the farm. They could use a veteran top-pairing stud to complement Alex Goligoski and help them win now. More size among the top six forwards would be nice, too, though a healthy Valeri Nichushkin can grow into that role.
Klingberg and Honka give Dallas strong puck-moving ability, but behemoth blueline prospects Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak are still merely projects. Another mean customer would help. And what about targeting another goalie in the draft? Kari Lehtonen struggled, and Jack Campbell has become a “quad-A” prospect, flashing brilliance in the AHL at times, only to regress.
Shawn Horcoff’s contract comes off the books, as does Rich Peverley’s, though the latter was designated long-term IR. GM Jim Nill has wiggle room for at least one significant free agent. He can’t overspend, though, with Goligoski entering the final year of his deal and league scoring champ Benn two seasons away from a gargantuan raise over his $5.25-million cap hit.
In the System 2015-16
Honka turned pro at 18 and didn’t look out of place with AHL Texas. He has a real shot at the NHL in 2015-16, though Dallas doesn’t have to rush him thanks to Klingberg’s emergence. Power forward Brett Ritchie’s NHL-ready body will punch his full-time ticket.
Did You Know
Esa Lindell, a 2012 third-rounder, tied for the Finnish League lead among defensemen in goals and points this season. Remember his name.