The writing was on the wall or, extra particularly, the shot clock.
The Dallas Stars loved a pleasant 2018-19 playoff run, upsetting the Nashville Predators in Spherical 1. By Recreation 7 of Spherical 2 in opposition to St. Louis, on the finish of regulation, the Stars had been outshot 41-17. Goaltender Ben Bishop stored them on life assist. Finally – and justly – Patrick Maroon received the sport for the Blues in double additional time, ending Dallas’ season. St. Louis was the higher crew, interval. It held the territorial edge in shot makes an attempt in Video games 2, four, 5 and seven and gained momentum because the sequence progressed.
The Stars weren’t fairly smoke and mirrors, however they completed rather a lot this season on the energy of well timed goaltending and bought some assist from a putrid Nashville Predators energy play that went zero for 15 in Spherical 1.
There’s temptation, then, to shrug the shoulders and never count on a lot going ahead from a Stars crew that completed 29th in offense, was merely good however not nice in most defensive metrics and did most of its harm on the energy of Bishop and backup Anton Khudobin. However there’s really cause to really feel optimistic concerning the Stars subsequent yr – possibly even cause to count on enchancment, relying on how the low season performs out. Think about these elements.
1. Ben Bishop isn’t going wherever
Bishop loved a considerably wholesome season by his customary, avoiding any disastrous long-term absences, and it additionally occurred to be his greatest season. He led the NHL in save share and objectives saved above common. He completed second in high-danger SP and third in general 5-on-5 SP. He’ll all the time be an injury-prone netminder given he’s the largest goalie in NHL historical past at 6-foot-7 and due to this fact powerful for net-crashing forwards to keep away from. However Dallas is the right match for him. The Stars have lengthy endured one of many worst journey schedules within the league due to their southern location within the central time zone. Due to that, GM Jim Nill makes some extent of conserving a busy backup available to play way over the typical No. 2. Over the previous 4 seasons, his groups’ No. 2 stoppers have began 39, 30, 30 and 37 video games. An setting conserving Bishop recent paid off in 2018-19, and there’s no cause to mess with the components subsequent season. Khudobin sparkled in backup responsibility his yr with a .923 SP and has a yr left on his contract.
2. Jamie Benn can’t be this dangerous once more
Within the 5 seasons previous this one, Benn scored extra objectives than each participant aside from Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin. Solely Crosby and Patrick Kane had extra factors than Benn. So it was surprising to see the Stars captain plummet to 53 factors and his lowest per-game scoring common since his rookie season. Benn turns 30 this summer time, and bruising energy forwards can age sooner than finesse scorers, however the decline was too excessive to be believed. His capturing share was really barely above his profession norm, so we will’t blame luck, however it’s doable he performed by means of nagging accidents. He has a historical past of doing so. It received’t be a shock if we be taught within the coming weeks that he requires some kind of low season surgical process.
We’ve probably seen Benn’s greatest, sure, however he’s nonetheless younger sufficient to supply like a front-line participant for an additional season or two, particularly if he has an improved supporting solid. Talking of which…
three. The Stars ought to have cap area to spend this summer time
Jason Spezza is a UFA, which means his $7.5-million AAV evaporates, eradicating fairly the burden. Defenseman Esa Lindell is an RFA and has probably performed his approach right into a long-term extension, with John Klingberg’s seven-year, $29.75-million contract from 2015 an inexpensive baseline. However Lindell is the one big-money RFA Nill should re-sign. Jason Dickinson established himself as an NHLer this season however stays in bridge-deal territory.
Which means the Stars ought to have cash out there to pursue UFAs after being considerably conservative final summer time. Factoring in a projected cap enhance to $83 million, Dallas may have greater than $20 million to play with. The timing works out properly for a crew that (a) desperately wants ahead depth and (b) occurs to want ahead depth simply as probably the greatest UFA ahead lessons in NHL historical past arrives. There’s one thing for everybody: Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Jeff Skinner, Micheal Ferland, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle…take your decide. Mats Zuccarello is a UFA, too, and he was a improbable slot in Dallas as a trade-deadline rental from the New York Rangers, however re-signing him would set off a situation of the commerce that modifications a 2020 third-round decide right into a 2020 first-rounder going to New York. Is it value re-signing Zuccarello for cash plus a first-rounder when the opposite UFAs merely price cash?
four. Miro Heiskanen is simply getting began
We knew the child blueliner can be a beast, and he was a beast. His common ice time of 23:07 was the very best of any NHL rookie previously six seasons. He had a optimistic affect on possession, and his 12 objectives have been the second most by a 19-year-old blueliner previously 35 years. Heiskanen is particular – Norris Trophy risk particular – and is simply starting his ascension. It’s solely a matter of time earlier than he routinely dominates video games as one of many NHL’s elite defensemen.5. Roope Hintz
Heiskanen was all the time projected to be a phenom and thus didn’t sneak up on anybody. One other Stars prospect did, although. No participant from Dallas’ youth class opened extra eyes within the playoffs than Hintz. His mix of pace, talent and dimension confirmed up on so many highlights that it’s a surprise somebody with instruments like these didn’t do harm within the NHL sooner. He doubled his productiveness within the AHL yr over yr earlier than getting recalled for the final time in late January. He flashed authentic top-six skill throughout the post-season and will construct on his sturdy end. Between Scott Glennie, Valeri Nichushkin, Denis Gurianov, Riley Tufte, Jason Dickinson and Hintz, the Stars have struggled badly to draft breakout forwards within the early rounds over the previous decade. It seems Hintz and, to a lesser however nonetheless noteworthy diploma, Dickinson are able to buck that development.
Tags: dallas stars, lists, information, nhl, stanley cup playoffsConnect: In regards to the AuthorMatt LarkinMatt Larkin is a senior author at The Hockey Information and has been a part of the crew since 2011. He is your one-stop store for deep-dive participant interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy participant rankings, participant security and hair suggestions. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey Information Dwell and The Hockey Information Podcast.