The Dallas Stars surprised a lot of people last season winning the Central Division with 109 points. They made it to the second round of the playoffs losing in 7 to the Blues without superstar Tyler Seguin. Now, there’s hope that last season was just the beginning. While the forwards remain loaded, there are additional question marks on defense now and they still have the goaltending duo that led to their demise. Let’s take a look at what the Stars are working with:
The Stars signed Antti Niemi last offseason to form a tandem with Kari Lehtonen. Let’s just say that the team won despite their goaltending. Niemi finished with a career worst 2.67 GAA and .905 sv% while Lehtonen had a 2.76 GAA and .906 sv%. That’s quite simply not going to get it done in fantasy and if they both fail to improve, I expect the Stars to take a step back this year. They’re more than likely going to split again and should do very well in wins but you can’t count on them for quality numbers elsewhere. There has also been talk of the Stars trying to acquire a goalie elsewhere so I don’t want anything to do with these two in 12’ers. In a deep league, I could see taking a gamble to get the wins but with the open style the Stars play, these two are going to kill your GAA and save percentage.
After losing Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers this offseason, John Klingberg is the only guy that is worthy of being rostered in 12 man leagues. Klingberg was terrific last season scoring 10 goals, 48 assists, +22 and 22 PPP. He boosted his shot rate to over average and the penalty minutes were passable. With how thin the defense is now, I think Klingberg gets a nice increase from the 22:41 he averaged last season. Klingberg came in at 55th overall in my ranks and is a #1 fantasy defenseman. There’s still upside for Klingberg taking him in that spot.
Honestly, the rest of their defense is a mess in real life and even more so in fantasy. I don’t even know what defenseman is going to be on the point on the second power play unit; it’s that bad. Looking at it now, perhaps I should raise Klingberg a few spots in my rankings because they’re going to heavily depend on him. I don’t think I’d take a chance on any of these guys, even in deep leagues.
Nobody contributes to all categories better than Jamie Benn. 41/48/+7/64/35/247 is simply absurd. Yes, Benn is coming off offseason surgery but all indications are that he will be ready for opening night. He’s missed one game total over the past three seasons so I’m not that concerned about it. I have Benn as the #2 player because of his high floor and ceiling across the board.
Benn’s partner-in-crime, Tyler Seguin, is right behind at #4. He doesn’t get the penalty minutes Benn does but he makes up for it taking an extra shot per game. Seguin finished last season with 33 goals and 40 assists in 72 games with almost 4 shots per game. That’s three straight seasons with over a point per game and he’s still only 24 years old; we very well could see better from him in the near future.
Jason Spezza had a very nice second season in Dallas scoring 33 goals and 30 assists, including 24 points on the power play. The best thing Spezza has going is that in addition to being on the first power play unit, his quality of linemate is going to increase. He’s going to have two of Patrick Sharp, Jiri Hudler and Valeri Nichushkin on his line which is a nice step up from what he worked with last season. I have Spezza just outside of my top 50 expecting the goals to drop a little bit but that to be balanced out with an increase in assists.
Sharp’s first season in Dallas was fairly generic with 20 goals and 35 assists in 76 games. It’s a bit worrisome his shot rate keeps dropping but at this point, it’s still a plus at almost 3 per game. I ranked Sharp 92nd overall because while he lacks the upside of his time in Chicago due to age, Sharp is still an incredibly safe pick.
Over the last two seasons, Jiri Hudler is a top 10 player in the league in scoring at even strength. If he gets a chance to play on the first power play unit or even just the first line with Benn and Seguin, we could be looking at him repeating his 70 point season in Calgary two years ago. I don’t think that happens barring an injury but I still love the fit in Dallas for Hudler. He’s must-draft in all leagues again but towards the later part of drafts; his shot rate is quite abysmal.
Nichushkin hasn’t taken the step most expected him to take in the NHL. He finished last season with 9 goals and 20 assists which isn’t where the Stars were hoping he’d be. Nuke is still only 21 years old so the script is far from written but if he doesn’t step up early this year, it could cost him a spot in the top 6. There’s also talk that he gets traded as the main piece for a goalie which means he’d almost certainly go to a worst spot than he has in Dallas. For now, he’s only a streamer outside of deep leagues.
I’m going to lump Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky and Mattias Janmark together. These three should be the third line and all of them had stretches last season of being fantasy relevant. If there’s an injury to the top 6, whoever gets the bump up is an elite streamer that could turn into a hold. The problem is that the addition of Hudler slid these guys down, great for the Stars but bad for their fantasy value. I’d look to stream all of them early on since they’ll still get power play time on the second unit and had 13-16 goals last season.
The fourth line has some interesting guys as well but they’re even more blocked that the previous three. Antoine Roussel is a penalty minute king so if you need PIM while getting 10+10 or slightly better, he’s your guy. Patrick Eaves had chances with Benn and Seguin the last two seasons and did well in that time. I don’t expect that to happen anymore but if it does, grab him immediately. In dynasties, I’m still a big Radek Faksa fan. It’s almost certainly not going to happen this season with the logjam in front of him but eventually he should turn into a nice fantasy asset.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Julius Honka
2) Brett Ritchie
3) Riley Tufte
4) Cole Ully
5) Phillipe Desrosiers
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next part of my rankings, either through 125 or 150. Only the Pacific Division is left for team previews; the season starts one month from today! RCL’s will be up soon as will the first episode of the podcast so be on the lookout for both of those. As always, feel free to leave any questions or comments below. Take care!