Welcome to 2020 Vision, our new feature taking a look at how the roster of each NHL team may look three seasons from now when the 2019-2020 season begins.
Over the next month we’ll profile one team, in alphabetical order, each day and project what their roster (12 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies) will look like.
There were some ground rules for this exercise. We didn’t allow any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but we did make assumptions about teams re-signing their own UFAs and RFAs.
Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a fantasy-like look at the league in 2019-20. Instead, since this is part of the THN Future Watch family, it’s meant to be a realistic, best-case-scenario projection for each team based on players already under contract, and prospects in their system.
It’s a small sample size that still has time to grow, but we’re still waiting for the draft magic Jim Nill had in Detroit to start rubbing off on the Dallas Stars. Nill and director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell have handled the Stars’ drafts since 2013 and while they have drafted well, there have yet to be the middle-to-late-round home runs we regularly saw with the Red Wings.
The Stars have been pegged by a number of observers as a team to watch for next season, with some opining that the changes they made in the off-season could transform them from non-playoff team to legitimate Stanley Cup contender in 2017-18. Whether or not they can sustain that through 2019-20 depends upon a number of factors.
One of them is the future of Tyler Seguin, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season. He will just have turned 27 when the ’19-20 season gets underway and should have a number of good years ahead of him. But depending upon how he does the next two seasons with running mate Jamie Benn, he’ll likely want a long-term deal with a higher salary than the $5.75 million he averages in Dallas now.
There are depth issues, particularly down the middle, if Seguin fails to stick around. The Stars seem pretty well positioned on the blueline, an area of the game that was lacking this past season. The blueline and overall team defense should be in for a major upgrade now that Ken Hitchcock is behind the bench.
And the Stars hope and think they’ve solved their goaltending issues once and for all. More than any other position, that was the one that let the Stars down most this past season. With a six-year deal signed, Bishop will be in the midst of that contract with a cap hit of $4.9 million by the time the 2019-20 season rolls around.
The Stars could potentially have some issues with their bottom-six forwards, but who doesn’t these days? There is some young talent there, but is there enough of it? It’s great to have all that top-end skill, but it needs to be supplemented.
GOT IT: Top-end talent at every position, particularly now that they appear to have solved their goaltending problems. The defense corps is young and dynamic and has room to grow over the next couple of years.
NEED IT: Depth at forward, something that will be greatly enhanced if Valeri Nichushkin can return to the NHL in the next year or two and become something close to the player the Stars envisioned they were getting when they took him 10th overall in 2013.
CAP WATCH: The Stars have $32.9 million committed to seven players in 2019-20. If they re-sign Seguin in the next two years, that number will inch very close to $40 million for eight players.
BOTTOM LINE: The Stars are expected to rebound and reemerge as a Stanley Cup contender in 2017-18. Whether they can continue that trajectory into 2019-20 will depend on which players they retain and whether some of their young players can make the transition into prime-time players.
Monday: Detroit Red Wings