We are 20 days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Dallas Stars.
|Dan Hamhuis – D – (from VAN)||Alex Goligoski – D – (to ARI)|
|Jiri Hudler – RW – (from FLA)||Jason Demers – D – (to FLA)|
|Adam Cracknell – RW – (from EDM)||Valeri Nichushkin – RW – (to KHL)|
|Nick Ebert – D – (from LA)||Colton Sceviour – C – (to FLA)|
|Andrew Bodnarchuk – D – (from LA)||Vernon Fiddler – C – (to NJD)|
By: Michael Bondy (@)
In 2016 the Dallas Stars became the first team in the past two years to average more than 3.00 goals per game (3.18) as they went on to establish themselves as the league’s best source of offence. Minimal offseason departures as well as the addition of free agent and new No.2 defenseman, Dan Hamhuis, have the Stars ready to repeat as top team in the Western Conference. A shaky blue line and sub-par goaltending will prove to be the true factors in seeing the Stars take the step forward as a truly elite, well rounded team.
Coach Lindy Ruff enters his third season behind the Stars’ bench looking to add on to a 50-win season a year ago which saw the Stars rank one spot behind the President Trophy winning Washington Capitals. Ruff has improved the Stars record in each of his three years since taking over behind the team’s bench (40 wins, 41 wins, 50 wins). With all the offensive tools in place, the Stars are a preseason favourite to finish at the top of the Western Conference in the upcoming season.
Dallas will of course be driven once again by their powerful offence, led by two of the league’s top scorers and fantasy contributors—Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. As far as forward duos go, these two are about as good as it gets. Benn finished the 2015-16 season second only to Patrick Kane for the overall points lead (89) with Seguin not far behind in an injury shortened season (72 pts). The two play alongside veteran goal scorer Patrick Sharp who reached the 20-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career in his first season with Dallas. The late offseason addition of Jiri Hudler (121 pts in the past two seasons) to pair alongside veteran Centre Jason Spezza (24 G, 39 A, 63 Pts, 3rd in team scoring) shows the Stars will be much more than just a one line attack. The powerful top six was supposed to be rounded out by the highly touted fourth year forward Valeri Nichushkin (21-years-old) before his sudden unexpected departure back to the KHL this past week. The move back to Russia came as a surprise but the Stars are still more than stacked on the offensive front as Nichushkin’s departure will mean added ice time for veteran forwards Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves, while also opening the door for a potential top-6 jump for young sleepers in Matthias Janmark, Brett Ritchie and Radek Faksa.
Dallas tends to struggle when it comes to their blueline as they had a tough time keeping the puck out of their own net in 2015-16. A breakout season last year by John Klingberg ranks him as a top fantasy option going into this season as he will once again be in charge of manning the extremely lethal Stars’ power play (22.1 PP%, 4th in NHL). He will likely be paired with Hamhuis, who has spent the last six seasons shutting down other team’s top lines in Vancouver. After the initial pair the Stars really start to thin out, veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya should be paired with inexperienced heavy hitter, Stephen Johns (14 career GP). Jordie Benn and Patrik Nemeth expect to round of the D-corp. The Stars’ defensive unit is one injury away from a scary situation as they hope their offence will once again allow them to succeed with a very mediocre defence.
The Stars will yet again split starts evenly between their two Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. Both managed to register 25 wins while posting save percentages below a medial .906%. A slight improvement from their goalies could go a long way in making this team a true title contender. Expect the pair to put up similar numbers in the form of high wins, but also a high goals against average.
Dallas will once again be one of the few true Stanley Cup and President Trophy favourites as they come into this season looking better than they have in recent years. Their high powered offence will be expected to lead the charge as it has done so well, with their goaltending looking to bounce back and contribute in more ways than they have previously. When it comes to fantasy, targeting a Dallas Star in the upcoming draft should be a very safe bet as they have plenty of players who are capable of cracking the top 25 in league scoring.
Stars in the DFO Top 275:
- 3. Jamie Benn – LW
- 6. Tyler Seguin – C
- 60. John Klingberg – D
- 71. Jason Spezza – C
- 103. Patrick Sharp – RW
- 163. Antti Niemi – G
- 169. Jiri Hudler – RW
- 178. Kari Lehtonen – G
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Stars are certain to find themselves near the top of NHL scoring, but their goaltending remains a concern. They should make the playoffs for the second straight season despite playing in a tough Central Division.