From 2015-to-2018, the Dallas Stars ranked fifth in goals for per game (2.97) and 27th in goals against per game (2.95) but completely flipped the script in 2019.
The Stars played a more structured defensive game under new head coach Jim Montgomery and made it back to the postseason despite scoring the third fewest goals in the NHL (2.55 GF/gm). Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin thrived in the new system, ranking second in GA/gm (2.44) and SV% (.923).
This offseason the Stars refined the edges of their roster by adding quality veterans via free agency. They signed long-time San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski to a three-year contract worth $7.0M AAV and long-time Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $1.5M contract to help up front. They also signed 33-year-old Andrej Sekera to a one-year deal worth $1.5M to bolster their third-pair.
The moves the Stars made this offseason was an attempt to insulate their top-line of Jamie Benn—Tyler Seguin—Alexander Radulov, who ranks as the No.10 first-line according to Corsica Player Ratings. Pavelski is expected to 2019 breakout centre Rope Hintz on the second-line with either 2015 first-round pick Denis Gurianov or Perry.
Neither veteran is the same goal-scorers they used to be but will play more of a support role with their new squad. The Stars had the third-lowest shooting percentage in the NHL last season, so there’s a lot of room for this group to improve in 2020.
Tyler Seguin (C)
- — Seguin has not missed a game in three seasons and ranks 16th in the NHL in goals (99) and 18th in points (230) over that stretch. Seguin has elite shot volume (second to Alex Ovechkin since 2017) but his SH% has taken a dip in recent years. If that creeps back up above 11 percent, Seguin will score 35-plus goals with 45-plus assists. His ceiling seems to be somewhat limited, but his durability and consistency make him a solid second-round fantasy selection.
Alexander Radulov (RW)
- — Radulov was O.K. in his NHL return with the Canadiens but has thrived in Dallas. The Russian winger has posted back-to-back 72-point season but missed 12 games last season—he was on an 84-point pace. Radulov played 78.5 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Seguin and the duo outscored their opponents 52-to-28 last season. Dallas has been among the best power-play teams since Radulov joined the team and he is in the top-35 in PPP. He is a safe fourth-round pick with point-per-game upside.
Jamie Benn (LW)
- — Benn is coming off of the worst season of his career, recording 53 points (27G / 26A) in 78 games. Montgomery didn’t use Benn as much as the coaches before him, playing just 18:14 TOI/gm. As a result, his shot volume plummeted. At age-30, Benn is on the downswing of his career but he carries some sleeper value heading into 2020. He’ll drop further than he ever has in fantasy drafts and is a good bounce-back candidate. Unless his shot volume returns, Benn won’t score 30 goals but he had just three power-play assists last year, so expect that to correct itself.
Joe Pavelski (C/RW)
- — Pavelski exploded for 38 goals last season despite his shot volume dropping from 2.85 SOG/gm to 2.51. The 35-year-old definitely won’t shoot 20.2 percent again, so expect his goal total to fall closer to 25 than 35. His goals went up but assists dropped because of a lack of power-play success. Pavelski should play less at 5v5 in Dallas but should play with Seguin, Benn, Radulov and John Klingberg on the first power-play unit. There’s a lot of regression coming Pavelski’s way. Negative regression in goals and positive regression in assists.
Corey Perry (RW)
- — Perry was bought out by the Ducks after a dismal 2019 season. Perry underwent knee surgery in late-September and missed the first 51 games of the season. Upon his return, the 34-year-old had just 10 points (6G / 4A) in 31 games. The biggest issue for Perry is that his shooting percentage has dropped from 13.6 percent (first 10 years) to 9.5 percent (last three years). The six-time 30-goal scorer now hasn’t topped 20 in three straight seasons. He’ll likely be limited to a third-line role in Dallas, which gives him a 20-goal, 30-assist ceiling.
Roope Hintz (C/LW)
- — The 2015 second-round pick (No.49 overall) was called-up after posting 22 points (9G / 13A) in 21 AHL games. Upon arriving in Dallas, the 22-year-old had nine goals and 13 assists in 58 games and eight points (5G / 3A) in 13 playoff games. In his first full season, Hintz should be locked into a second-line role with Pavelski and has breakout potential. His new linemates should help boost his 6.2 on-ice SH% and his assist total should climb. He might be another year away from a true breakout, but he is a definite 15-goal, 25-assist candidate.
Dallas has one of the best, young D-cores in the league with Klingberg (27-years-old), Esa Lindell (25) and Miro Heiskanen (20) leading the way. They’ve mixed that youth with hardened veterans Sekera (33), Roman Polak (33) and Jamie Oleksiak (27). Julius Honka is also still in the mix but hasn’t panned out. He has not played more than 42 games in a single season and has just 13 points (2G / 11A) in 87 career games since being the No.14 overall pick in 2014.
John Klingberg (D)
- — Klingberg has been one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL since breaking into the league in 2015. He has played in 89.5 percent of a possible 410 games during that time but has averaged 12 goals and 46 assists (58 points) per 82 games. Simply put, he is one of the most reliable blueliners and a great No.1 fantasy defenseman option.
Miro Heiskanen (D)
- — Heiskanen was the No.3 overall pick in 2017 and had a fantastic rookie season in 2019. The 20-year-old was somewhat limited on the PP because of his fellow countryman took up all of the PP1 time. Heiskanen’s shot volume is elite (2.22 SOG/gm), so he should be among the goal leaders at the position for the foreseeable future. His on-ice SH% should climb and the second PP unit should be better in 2020, both boosting his assist total in year-2.
Esa Lindell (D)
- — Lindell is one of the best defensemen that you never hear about. The 25-year-old’s ice-time skyrocketed in 2019 and he was up to the task. He became fantasy relevant, scoring 11 goals and 21 assists but regression is coming for him. He doesn’t shoot enough to maintain double-digit goals and won’t shoot 8.3 percent again. With limited power-play exposure, Lindell should start the year on the waiver wire but would become instantly relevant if Klingberg or Heiskanen get hurt.
The Stars have two veteran netminders who have both been reliable throughout their entire careers. After year’s of questionable goaltending, Dallas has finally found a duo that they don’t have to worry about. Under Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock, the Stars ranked 25th in GA/gm (2.90) with a combination of Kari Lehtonen (269 GP), Antti Niemi (85), Bishop (53) and more.
Ben Bishop (G)
- — Bishop posted a 2.49 GAA and .916 SV% in 51 games under Hitchcock in 2018 but led the NHL in SV% (.934) and was second in GAA (1.98) in Montgomery’s first year. The only concern for prospective Bishop owners is durability. He is tied for 21st in games started over the last three seasons, but he’s excellent when he’s healthy. He has turned those 133 starts into the 17th most wins (71) while leading the league in GAA (2.33) and tying He has top-5 fantasy upside but you should also consider handcuffing him with Khudobin in the final round.
Anton Khudobin (G)
- — Khudobin started a career-high 37 games in 2019 and ranked eighth in SV% (.923) and 15th in GAA (2.57). He is one of the top backup options in the league and will be an excellent spot-start option throughout the season. If Bishop gets hurt, he elevates to a No.2 fantasy option.
Projected Scoring Leaders
|T. Seguin (35)||J. Klingberg (48)||T. Seguin (81)||T. Seguin (11)||T. Seguin (28)|
|J. Benn (29)||T. Seguin (46)||A. Radulov (72)||J. Benn (9)||A. Radulov (23)|
|A. Radulov (28)||A. Radulov (44)||J. Benn (67)||J. Pavelski (8)||J. Klingberg (22)|
Stars in the DFO Top 300
- 18 — Tyler Seguin (C)
- 47 — Ben Bishop (G)
- 50 — Alexander Radulov (RW)
- 51 — Jamie Benn (LW)
- 61 — John Klingberg (D)
- 92 — Joe Pavelski (C/RW)
- 140 — Miro Heiskanen (D)
- 232 — Corey Perry (RW)
- 271 — Roope Hintz (C/LW)
- 276 — Anton Khudobin (G)
|2||DALLAS STARS||44-28-10||98 PTS|
|4||COLORADO AVALANCHE||43-28-11||97 PTS|
|6||CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS||40-32-10||90 PTS|
Montgomery has the Stars playing good hockey and they improved this offseason. Adding Pavelski will allow the top-line to stay together instead of constantly splitting them up and putting them back together. Hintz and Heiskanen should both continue to take steps forward and that makes the Stars even more dangerous. They will challenge the Predators, Blues, and Avalanche for the Division lead in 2020. This is their best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup in a long time, but the window is small.