Dallas Stars 2005-2006
TEAM PAYROLL: Around $36-38 million
GENERAL MANAGER: Doug Armstrong; 3rd year
HEAD COACH: Dave Tippett; 3rd year
FORGOTTEN MOVES: Summer of 2004: Jon Klemm was signed to a two-year deal. He gives the Stars a strong, veteran presence on the blueline. Can be a physical defensemen and when paired with a puck-mover, can really do damage. Jaroslav Svoboda was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fourth round draft pick in 2005. An inconsistent player with ‘Canes, Dallas hopes Svoboda can make his presence here felt by contributing as a grinder and chip in more than a few goals along the way. Dallas acquired defenseman Shawn Belle from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Jason Bacashihua. Both were prospects, and Dallas was short on puck-moving, offensive-minded defensemen. Already loaded with good goaltending prospects, Belle was brought in help out with the Stars’ aging blueline.
TEAM MODE: Play-off contenders. The Stars haven’t made or lost any significant pieces to the team since they placed fifth in their conference in 03-04. They placed second in the Pacific Division, and San Jose only had 2 more wins than Dallas had. The Stars have gotten a lot younger, and Pierre Turgeon was bought out, for better or for worse. He didn’t really have an impact on the team, especially with the amount of money he was making. With the new rules, players like Modano will have more offensive freedom. And Marty Turco is Marty Turco, so he should be able to hold up well, even with the restricted movement by goalies and reduced pad sizes.
TO TAKE CHARGE!: Mike Modano. Mike desperately needs to bounce back from a disappointing season in 03-04 in which he only scored 14 goals and was minus 21. He is the captain of this team still, and he needs to act like it. Getting in the face of his teammates to motivate them is what a captain should do. There was a lot of tension in the locker room the last season the Stars played, and Mike needs to show some leadership. He needs to take charge and lead the team in scoring for this team to go anywhere.
ON THE RUSH (OFFENSE): For offense, you have guys like Mike Modano, Billy Guerin, Brendan Morrow, Jason Arnott, and Jere Lehtinen. These five guys will and should lead the team in scoring, barring any injuries. Modano is the quickest and the best skater, and with the new rules, he should even chip in a few on the penalty kill. Modano had a very tough 03-04 season, but should be counted on to bounce back in a big way. Guerin and Morrow were great on the power play in 03-04, and should be counted on in either the first or second lines, along with Modano. Together, they scored 24 goals on the PP. Antti Miettinen also should make the team, and could be a scoring threat as well. Dallas is high Miettinen to become a scoring threat and could be involved in the top lines. In 35 games with the Bulldogs of the AHL, he had 8 goals and 20 assists. Stu Barnes, Steve Ott, and Jaroslav Svoboda round out the scoring threats, with Stu scoring 11 goals in 03-04 for Dallas. Ott is more of a pesky forward than a scoring threat. He was a former first round draft pick that can agitate you enough that you might make a dumb penalty. Svoboda is a defensive forward who won’t score you a lot of goals, but can earn his time with playing on the penalty kill. He hasn’t scored more than 3 goals in a season, but inconsistent play is the main reason as he also hasn’t played more than 48 games in a season. Other possibilities for the forward ranks are Garrett Burnett, who played in 39 games with Anaheim in 2003-04, and Junior Lessard, who notched 11 goals and 11 assists with Houston of the AHL last season. David Oliver provides the solid veteran presence and he scored 12 points in 03-04 with the Stars, mainly playing as a healthy scratch during the season.
COVERING THE D-ZONE: Sergei Zubov will once again anchor the Stars D-line. His partner is not yet set, but look for him to carry the defense and also chip in a few goals here in there. He is absolutely superb on the power play and penalty kill. Zubie scored 4 goals and chipped in 21 assists on the PP in 03-04, and the Stars will look to him to continue his offensive numbers. 42 total points by him were great. Zubov is a great puck-carrying D-man, and always has a mark on his man. He is the number 1 defenseman for the Stars. Philippe Boucher scored 8 goals for the Stars and contributed 16 assists in 03-04 and was always on the penalty kill and power play. He can be a very physical defenseman who hardly ever lets the defense down. He was plus 15, and the season before that, he was a plus 28. Trevor Daley is a young defenseman whom the Stars are high on to carry the second defensive pairing. Daley is another offensive-minded D-man who can contribute on the power play. He scored 1 PP goal and chipped in 3 assists. He needs to work on his defense more as he can sometimes be muscled off the puck and is prone to try and lead the offense more than lead the defense. Martin Skoula, once again, is mainly an offense minded defenseman. He really needs to step up his D in order to stay on the top 2 pairings. Not really a PP kind of player, he can get you the puck, but sometimes in place of much needed defense. Stephane Robidas and John Erskine round out the defense corps. They are not much in the way of top skaters or d-men, and probably won’t contribute to any scoring.
GUARDING THE NET: Marty Turco came off his record 02-03 season (breaking the modern-day record GAA average with a 1.72) with another stellar performance. He is a mobile, puck-moving goalie, but the new goalie rules should help to break that mold. Goalies won’t be able to touch the puck beyond a certain point behind the net. Also, the goalie pads were restricted in size, but this shouldn’t have a dramatic effect on Turco’s overall performance. He is very aggressive and can be counted on in the most critical of moments. His performance in the playoffs has been disappointing, but with experience under his belt, he should continue to do better. Johan Hedberg will be Turco’s back up, and is a very capable one. He was the starter for some very bad Pittsburgh teams, and Dallas will be counting on him to compliment Turco. He won’t be counted on to play a lot of games, because Turco is a workhorse.
TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION!: The Stars don’t have a can’t-miss prospect like Crosby or Malkin, but have some very capable youngsters that will make the team either soon or very soon. Trevor Daley is certain to make the team and will most likely garner a top-4 spot on the defense. He is a quick skater, and very mobile. He has great hands and great vision on the ice. He will have to work on back-checking and staying on his man. Goalie Dan Ellis will be looking to make the team sometime next year, either as a back-up or even as the fulltime starter, if Turco leaves via free agency after the 05-06 season. Ellis is a butterfly type goalie, who can handle the puck very well, like Turco. Center Jussi Jokinen was signed after the lockout ended, and despite being undersized, he has a great shot and a very nice hockey sense. He is a very versatile being that he can play all three forward positions. Could possible make the team out of camp, or be a late call-up in the late season.
Brendan Morrow- Jason Arnott- Billy Guerin
Jere Lehtinen – Mike Modano- Antti Miettinen
Steve Ott- Niko Kapanen – Stu Barnes
*The fourth lines could be pretty much anything. Also, a player could be moved out of the second and third lines depending on training camp play. Lehtinen and Modano should be paired together and the MAG line is a must. Possibilities for filling out the last two lines include Jaroslav Svoboda, David Oliver, Junior Lessard, Garrett Burnett, Mathias Tjarnqvist, and, if they make the team, Vojtek Polak or Jussi Jokinen or even Yared Hagos. The latter three were signed after the lockout and all three have a good chance of making the team, but only one if them will. All of the mentioned possibilities won’t all make the team, but Oliver, Svoboda, and Burnett are probables, with Oliver adding veteran experience, and Burnett adding muscle.
Sergei Zubov- Philippe Boucher
Jon Klemm- Trevor Daley
Martin Skoula- Stephane Robidas
*John Erskine will most likely be kept as the seventh defenseman.
Marty Turco- Johan Hedberg
EXPECTATIONS: The expectations for the Stars are playoff contenders. The have a solid veteran team. They are not overly loaded, but with a great goaltender in Turco, and some size and toughness on defense, the Stars should do okay. Mike Modano is going to obviously have to bounce back from his horrible season in 03-04. The MAG line will score plenty of goals and the bottom lines will be counted on to provide grit and determination. Dallas will have it tough with San Jose trying to claim the Pacific Division, but should be able to secure a playoff spot by coming in either first or second in the division.
PROJECTED: I believe Dallas will come in second in the Pacific Division, and possibly 6th or 7th in the Western conference. They have a strong team, and with the inevitable bounce-back by Modano, they should do okay.