Welcome to the Five-Year Plan. In this summer exercise, we forecast the rosters for all 31 current NHL teams for the 2023-24 season. Are we bound for folly? Sure, but the point of the exercise is to give some sense of where an organization is heading based on current long-term contracts and the prospects they have in the system.
Some ground rules: No trades will be made and no future draft picks will be included – so you won’t see the likes of Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield on any roster, even though they will certainly be NHL stars in 2023-24. All current contracts are honored and most restricted free agents are projected to stay with their teams, unless it is determined the player will lose his spot or move on in the future. Some future unrestricted free agents will be kept on if the players are deemed integral and likely to re-sign. The Seattle expansion draft is not considered. With all that established, let’s take a look at Dallas.
Anything look a little strange, Dallas fans? Yes, that is Seguin and Benn on the second line – but keep in mind, this is five years down the road when Seguin will be 32 and Benn 35. While they should still be effective players then, the next generation needs to take over. Dellandrea will be in his prime in five years, as will his linemates. At the bottom end, the Stars have a few different options and you can sub in Rhett Gardner and/or Albin Eriksson if they catch your fancy more than say, Felhaber or Caamano. Faksa is already a great two-way player and Damiani could be a great PK partner for him in the future.
While Dallas has the option of going with a super-pairing of Heiskanen and Klingberg, it’s more prudent to spread the wealth around, so Klingberg is on the second pair even though we know he’s a top-pairing guy. It means Harley plays his off-side, but there’s no point having him on the third pairing. That’s where the Stars can stay a little old-school with size and physicality. Given the talent in the top-four however, the third pairing won’t likely play too many minutes.
Ben Bishop’s contract ends in the summer of 2023 and though he still may be a viable talent at the age of 36, the Stars have two high-end prospects that will be in their primes in 2023-24. So the most likely scenario is that Oettinger and Point develop behind Bishop until the veteran’s contract runs out, then work as a battery together upon his departure. That is, of course, unless either Oettinger or Point distinguish themselves as an undisputed starter.
Overall, Dallas should still be a competitive team in five years, albeit a very different one. Kids will have to step up in the absence of names such as Joe Pavelski, Alexander Radulov and Andrew Cogliano, but the talent is there. The defense looks solid and has a nice amount of puckmoving talent, while netminding will be a question mark until either Oettinger or Point prove themselves at the NHL level. But again, the pedigree is there.