|Jason Spezza – C||Alex Chiasson – RW|
|Ales Hemsky – RW||Ray Whitney – LW|
|Anders Lindback – G||Chris Mueller – C|
|Patrick Eaves – RW||Tim Thomas – G|
|Aaron Rome – D|
The Dallas Stars squeaked into the playoffs, edging out the Arizona Coyotes by two points for the final Wild Card spot. In the playoffs, they were bounced in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in six games by the heavier, deeper Anaheim Ducks. Their lack of depth was exposed by the Ducks, but the Stars made one of the biggest moves of the offseason, acquiring Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators.
The Stars sent Alex Chiasson, a second-round pick and two prospects to the Senators for Spezza and a prospect. Spezza goes from being the go-to-guy in Ottawa, to the second line centre in Dallas. The reduced pressure should help Spezza and makes the Stars a much more dangerous offensive team. Dallas also brought Ales Hemsky to town via free agency. After being traded last season, Hemsky, 30, posted four goals and 13 assists (17 points) in 20 games on a line with Spezza.
The two former Sens join an already potent offence–the Stars finished 10th in the NHL with 2.82 goals per game. They are led by their captain Jamie Benn and his linemate Tyler Seguin. In his first season with the Stars, the 22-year-old Seguin finished fourth in the league in points (84), fifth in goals (37), seventh in game-winning goals (8) tied for eighth in power-play goals (11) and 11th in assists (47)… Not a bad first season eh? Benn was equally as good posting 34 goals and 45 assists–his 79 points were tied with Alex Ovechkin and Joe Pavelski for eighth in the NHL. Coming into 2014-15 both Seguin and Benn are considered offseason top-20 fantasy players.
The second tier of talent in Texas sees a number of young, up-and-coming players. 19-year-old Valeri Nichushkin had an up-and-down rookie season, but the kid is an absolute beast with loads of potential. Cody Eakin, who played as their second line centre, will slide to the third line with the addition of Spezza, but he set career highs in goals (16), assists (19) and subsequently points (35). If Lindy Ruff elects to load-up the top power-play unit, expect Eakin to anchor the second unit. Lastly, Antoine Roussel is an intriguing fantasy option because of the high-volume of penalty minutes he mixes in with decent scoring numbers.
Defensively, the Stars top-option is Alex Goligoski. After an underwhelming first year and a half in Dallas, Goligoski has found the game he showed in his four years in Pittsburgh. He was 21st among NHL defensemen with 42 points last season. Trevor Daley is a feasible fantasy option as well. He had one of his best NHL season in 2013-14, despite missing 15 games with a high-ankle sprain. And at 40-years-old, Sergei Gonchar saw his production slip dramatically last year, but he should remain a staple on the Stars power-play this season.
Between the pipes, Kari Lehtonen will be the starter and he will have Anders Lindback as his back-up this season. Over the last four seasons, Lehtonen has started 81.2 per cent of the Stars regular season games, posting a 2.47 GAA and .918 SV% over that span. With the Stars expected to be a much better team this season, Lehtonen will be drafted as a top-15 fantasy netminder, with the potential to crack the top-10 by the end of the season.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Stars’ Fantasy Players)
- Tyler Seguin – C
- Jamie Benn – LW
- Jason Spezza – C
- Kari Lehtonen – G
- Alex Goligoski – D
- Ales Hemsky – RW
- Valeri Nichushkin – RW
- Antoine Roussel – LW
- Cody Eakin – C
- Trevor Daley – D
Click HERE for the Stars’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: The Stars finish third in the Central Division and make the playoffs for the second straight season with Lindy Ruff behind the bench.