The Season Preview will be a running column on questions and thoughts for the upcoming season. Individual teams will be highlighted in each post. CLICK HERE for the full list of Season Previews.
I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one. I like what the Dallas Stars did this offseason. I thought they moved several feet in the right direction; several feet closer to being a good team again.
I liked their offseason because they were one of the few teams with the courage to rebuild. Yeah, we like to tell ourselves as fans that what happened in LA or Calgary or wherever, can happen to you too. That a 7 seed or 8 seed can suddenly be a contender. But that’s a risky game to play, and it’s not something that is sustainable.
Philadelphia is a disaster, despite only being a few years removed from a surprise run to the finals. Calgary held on to an overrated core for far too long after their finals berth. That’s the downside of parity, it makes average teams believe that anything can happen, that the playoffs are some kind of 16 team lottery. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins helped prove the fallacy with that strategy. The good teams are starting to play like the good teams all year now, and that’s bad news for those 7 and 8 seeds.
When the Dallas Stars looked at their roster and their options this summer, they must have thought that under the right circumstances they could be that 7 or 8 squeaking into the playoffs. It sure seemed to be what they were aiming for last year when they signed Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. It didn’t work, and the Stars did what few teams seem willing to do these days, they sold off everything that wasn’t nailed down and got a lot of picks and young talent to build the team of the future with.
Michael Ryder is gone, so is Brenden Morrow and Derek Roy. Jagr was shipped off before the deadline too. They weren’t done there either, the boldest move was shipping off their best player, Loui Eriksson, for young and enigmatic (but he’s not Russian!) forward Tyler Seguin.
It must have been a tough pill to swallow for Stars fans. Those are some big names leaving town, and included in there is your team’s longtime captain and career Star Brenden Morrow. But make no mistake, this is better for the future. In fact, the Stars waited too long on Morrow. His value had tanked, and his tenure in Pittsburgh only reinforced that. It was no surprise to see him waiting for a contact well into the summer.
And Eriksson? As good as he is, he’s also 28 and not the kind of guy that you built a team around anymore. Seguin, on the other hand, is 21 and could be a top offensive player under the right circumstances. It may hurt in the short term, but the Stars should win this trade a few years down the line. But that’s the point, Boston has the kind of team that can win now and Dallas doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with understanding that and planning accordingly.
It isn’t just Seguin either. He’s joined by several other up and comers including Alex Chiasson, Cody Eakin, Jamie Oleksiak, and highly skilled 18-year old forward Valeri Nichushkin. This is a squad of youngsters that will get time to play and develop.
The only raised eyebrows of the offseason was keeping 41 year old forward Ray Whitney around during a rebuild, and signing Sergei Gonchar to the hefty price tag of 2 years and $10 million. However, when you consider that these young forwards need mentors, and that Alex Goligoski needs some kind of a spark (which could be in the form of support from his one-time mentor Gonchar) the moves make some sense. They aren’t overly invested in these two players, and they keep the young ones grounded in the mean time.
It shouldn’t surpise you that I don’t think that Dallas will be good this year, but I don’t think they are expecting any surprise runs to the finals either. I see them out of the playoff picture at the end of the year, but not for long. And that’s alright for now.
Optimism rating (out of 5): 3.0