NHL: Around the League in 30 Days: Day 11: Dallas Stars

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NHL: Around the League in 30 Days: Day 11: Dallas Stars
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How will the Stars fare without these three familiar faces this season. From left to right; Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano, and Marty Turco.

Day 11: Dallas Stars 

2010 Record: 37-31-14 (88 Points). Finished fifth in the Pacific Division.

Roster Changes

2010-2011 Notable arrivals: Adam Burish (CHI), Andrew Raycroft (VAN).

2010-2011 Notable departures: Jere Lehtinen (UFA), Mike Modano (DET), Marty Turco (CHI).

Stars Report Card

Forwards: The Stars boast a very good top two lines. The two lines are centered by Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro. Richards, the Murray Harbour PEI native, enjoyed his best season in years last season, scoring 91 points, his best output since he put up 91 points with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2005-2006.

The Stars lost a lot of their veteran presence in the locker room, losing their franchise legend, center Mike Modano. With Modano gone, the leadership falls on the shoulders of Captain Brenden Morrow.  Morrow had a respectable year last year, scoring 46 points in 76 games.

The Stars this season will be led by their young stars, wingers Loui Eriksson, James Neal (when he gets re-signed by the Stars), Jamie Benn and Steve Ott. These guys will make up the core of the team going forward. Where the Stars will struggle, however, is with their bottom six forwards. The bottom six is made up of a mix and match group of forwards that include Fabian Brunnstrom, Adam Burish and Toby Petersen, none of whom strikes fear into the opponents eyes.

Top Fantasy Forwards in 2010-11: C Brad Richards (27G/59A/86Pts/-7), RW Loui Eriksson (34G/45A/79Pts/-2), C Mike Ribeiro (20G/46A/66P/-10) LW James Neal (25G/30A/55Pts/-3) LW Brenden Morrow (20G/24A/44Pts/-1)

Overall Grade: B

Defense: Dallas’ defence can be described in one word: MEDIOCRE. Other than an aging Stephane Robidas, the Stars boast a lot of depth on defense but not a lot of top tier talents. The best of the rest appears to be Trevor Daley, who had a down year last year.

Matt Niskanen may be the Stars' best kept secret, but he still hasn’t signed on yet with the Stars for the season. Veterans Brad Lukowich, Karlis Skratins and Niklas Grossman add depth to the Stars' defense. Young up-and-comer Mark Fistric last year led the Stars in plus-minus, so he appears to be a lock as well to make the team.

Top Fantasy Defenders in 2010-11: Stephane Robidas (9G/37A/46Pts/-8), Trevor Daley (7G/16A/23Pts/-1), Matt Niskanen (6G/25A/31Pts/-5)

Overall Grade: C-

Goaltending:  With Marty Turco now in Chicago, the brunt of the goaltending workload will fall onto the shoulders of Kari Lehtonen. The biggest question mark regarding Lehtonen is his health, as he’s been injured pretty well his most career, only really playing a full 55+ game season once in his NHL career. Backup Andrew Raycroft provides adequate support if he gets injured, but Raycroft is far from the Calder Trophy winning goaltender he once was when he was with the Boston Bruins.

Top Fantasy Goaltender in 2010-11: Kari Lehtonen (26 W/25L/6OTL 2.79 GAA, .912 SV%)

Overall Grade: C-

Top 5 Prospect Watch (via hockeysfuture.com)

1. G Jack Campbell

Age: 18

Drafted: 1st Round (11th overall) by the Dallas Stars in 2010 NHL Entry Draft

Current Team: US NTDP (USHL)

Key Attributes: Very good technique and exceptionally confident. Campbell is a big-game goalie. No. 1 goaltender in the NHL potential.

2. C/RW Scott Glennie

Age: 19

Drafted: 1st Round (8th Overall) by the Dallas Stars in 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Current Team:  Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Key Attributes: A confident, pure goal scorer, Glennie anticipates well and creates havoc for opponents with his speed. He knows his responsibilities on the ice and is a diligent, hard-working junior. Partnered with Brayden Schenn and Matt Calvert (CBJ) during his rookie season to combine as the highest scoring trio in the WHL. Glennie is a right-handed forward who can shoot well off of either foot. He can be effective from the off wing

3. D Philip Larsen

Age:  21

Drafted: 5th round (149th overall), by the Dallas Stars in 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Current Team: Vastra Frolunda (SEL)

Key Attributes: Larsen has average size, but other than that, he shows a rather all-round arsenal of skills. He is blessed with good speed, technical skills and very good hockey sense. Really a smart player, that sees openings that many other players are unable to. He plays mature and appears to be relaxed and confident on the ice. Perhaps more noticeable offensively than defensively, but rather solid in his own end, despite having to work with the physical aspect of the game

4. RW Alex Chiasson

Age: 20

Drafted:  2nd round (38th overall) by Dallas Stars in 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Previous Team: Boston University (NCAA)

Key Attributes: Has a good blend of size and skill. Decent speed on his feet, but needs to work on skating, especially stride. Obviously needs to fill out his 6’3 frame. Can stickhandle through traffic with so much poise. Goes to the net, but will have to learn to get a bit grittier in close. Needs to be a little more patient in his own end. Likes to take off before team has secured possession.  There are some concerns about his effort level.

5. C/LW Ondrej Roman

Age: 21

Drafted: 5th Round (136th overall) by the Dallas Stars in 2007 NHL Entry Draft

Current Team: Vitkovice HC (Czech)

Key Attributes: Roman is extremely mobile and knows how to play a physical game. His size limits his success in high-traffic areas, but he is always willing to test his luck. Along with above average vision, he has decent playmaking and overall skill with the puck. A natural center, he displays good faceoff skills and plays a strong two-way game.

Is an excellent playmaker that can make players better around him.  Also, he has an impressive shot that he keeps hidden with his outstanding passing ability and high pass tendency.  Needs to use his shot more when he gets prime real estate.

Fantasy Outlook

Analysts’ Fantasy Stud: C Brad Richards

Richards, if healthy, will be another fantasy stud this season and should garner top three round considerations. A definite downside to Richards is that he is a career -73, making him a great power play player, but if you’re scoring 90 points a year, potential Richards' owners will take those totals over the negatives that surround Richards.

Analysts’ Player to Avoid: LW Brenden Morrow

Morrow had a career year three years ago where he scored 32 goals, accounted for over 75 points and added 100 PIMs. Ever since then though, it’s been an injury-riddled last couple of seasons and the signs of change are starting to take over in Dallas with youngsters Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and James Neal getting more exposure than Morrow.

Analysts’ Sleeper Special: LW James Neal

Neal hasn’t been taken earlier in drafts because he’s still unsigned, however this analysts believes this restricted free agent is primed for a breakout year. If Neal starts the year with the Stars I fully expect a 30-goal season out of Neal this season with a possibility of over 70 PIMs and 100-150 hits. Neal will be a great addition to any fantasy team you draft him for.

Expectations and Predictions

The Stars have a great set of top six forwards, but after that there are many question marks surrounding the club. How will the bottom six fare? Will the defence be better this year? The health of Kari Lehtonen. Will he remain relatively uninjured all year? Lastly, the biggest question remaining is whether the Stars can resign Neal and Niskanen. If they resign both and manage to drop their goals against by quite a bit, they could very well push for a playoff spot. However, right now, I think there are too many questions surrounding the defense, goaltending and lack of depth forwards on the Stars team

Prediction: 12th in the West.

Overall Team Grade: C

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