Hey guys, Sven here with the Dallas Stars edition of 31 in 31. Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material!  Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.

Forwards

Tyler Seguin – 82GP 40-38-78. Now four years since being traded from Boston, the Dallas Stars have made out like gangbusters in acquiring Seguin (that was apparent to most at the time of the trade, but now even more so). Seguin will likely centre a line of Benn and Radulov once again, so expect a rate of production similar to last year. For me, I think Seguin will be drafted somewhere between picks 8-13.

Jamie Benn – 82GP 36-43-79. Benn was able to rebound from a 20-point regression in 2016-17, nearly hitting the 80-point total for the third time in his career. Benn is a key component on this top-heavy Dallas forward group, and will continue to use his size to bury goals in tight. I expect Benn to be available in the fourth round of most drafts.

Alexander Radulov – 82GP 27-45-72. If there is anyone in Dallas’ Big Three that is going to regress, it’s the 32-year-old Radulov. After a very successful campaign on the Stars’ top line last year, Radulov would likely be the target if the team decides it wants to spread out its scoring. With Valeri Nichuskin returning from the KHL and Radek Faksa entering his third full-time season in the NHL, either of these much younger forwards could see top line time. ESPN considers Radulov a top-50 pick, however I would try to let him slide in your draft, as I feel he may not repeat his success from last year.

Radek Faksa – 79GP 17-16-33. As mentioned above, Faksa is entering his third full season with the Stars, and is my front-runner if anyone is to replace Radulov on the Benn-Seguin line. After two straight 30-point seasons and an increase in goals from 12 to 17 last season, Faksa could be ready for a breakout year. He showed the ability to collect points in bunches last season, creating a few streaming opportunities. There will likely be no evidence of a Faksa promotion until the puck actually drops, so I would keep your eye out and use an acquisition early in the season if he is on the first line. Regardless, he will receive a good chunk of ice-time even at #2LW, and will likely play #2PP.

Valeri Nichushkin – 50GP 16-11-27. After just two seasons in the NHL, the 2013 first-rounder jumped over to the KHL for two seasons and is slated to make his return to Dallas this year. Now at 23 years old, Nichuskin did not post overly impressive numbers overseas, and likely will take some time to adjust back to North American hockey. I can picture Dallas giving the 6’4” forward plenty of opportunity moving forward, and who knows? He could catch fire if he ends up playing with Benn and Seguin. I would not hold my breath for now, though.

Defence

John Klingberg – 82GP 8-59-67. After a breakout season in 2015-16 I thought Klingberg would be a one-and-done, however he proved this year that he is a gifted offensive defenceman. After tying for second in defensive scoring and finishing top ten in PP assists among defencemen last season, Klingberg appears primed to have another successful season as Dallas’ top d-man. ESPN’s pre-season rankings has him as the 11th best defenceman (59th overall), however I am sure he will be picked long before then.

Esa Lindell – 80GP 7-20-27. In his second season with the Stars, Lindell enjoyed a nine-point improvement from his rookie campaign, and a +11 improvement in +/-. Going into his third season, I think Lindell will continue to play top-pair with Klingberg, and could have a real breakout season. Though he has been on the receiving end of quite a bit of puck luck, these opportunities stem from his tremendous vision on the ice and ability to quickly put the puck on net once he gets it. Depending on how heavily Dallas relies on its top pair in terms of ice-time, Lindell can definitely be a sleeper pickup.

Goalie

Ben Bishop – 53GP 2.49GAA 916SV%. This analysis is plain and simple. The Dallas Stars will not be able to win every game 8-7, therefore they will need Ben Bishop to play well in order to return to the post-season. 26 wins last season put him in the middle of pack among other goalies, however in the tough Central Division the Stars will need him to be on his A-Game. Backup Anton Khudobin has proven he can still play, but Dallas signed Bishop long-term for a reason. He is a solid choice for the second goaltender on your team, but I would opt out of drafting him early. At 6’7″, everything really is bigger in Texas.

Rookies/Prospects

Miro Heiskanen – Liiga: 30GP 11-12-23. After going third overall in 2017, Heiskanen will now be the third Stars defenceman to be under the age of 24. Described as an “elite two-way defenceman in the making”, I have a hard time thinking that Dallas will shelter his minutes out of the gate. His skating ability and confidence should earn him a crack at top-four minutes, perhaps even a consistent role on Dallas’ second pairing with Julius Honka. Though he likely will not explode offensively in his rookie season, Heiskanen should be fun to watch. I do not see him as a draft option this season, however he may get comfortable right away and chip in offensively.

Roope Hintz – AHL: 70GP 20-15-35. At 6’3”, Hintz is an offensive catalyst on the wing and provides the energy for his teammates. After a respectable first season in North America, the 2015 second-rounder should be able to pick up where he left off and put together an impressive season in the AHL. Hintz is my current front-runner on the Stars’ forward depth chart to see NHL play-time, and I am looking forward to him having an exciting season playing for the Texas Stars.

Adam Mascherin – 67GP 40-46-86. After a bit of a slow start, Mascherin put together a very impressive major-junior career in Kitchener. He is only 5’10”, but plays a heavy game and brings the energy every shift. He will start the year in the AHL, but it is this type of sparkplug player that NHL teams love bringing up with them for stints. He has shown his potential to be a prolific scorer, but will it carry over to his pro career?

Jason Robertson – OHL: 68GP 41-46-87. The 2017 second-rounder is slated to report back to major-junior (Kingston) this coming season, however the future appears bright for Robertson. The 6’2” forward uses his size to dominate the front of the net, and has a tremendous shot. He also has enough skating ability and tenacity to control the play and find open space to let his cannon go. I will definitely be monitoring this prospect over the course of this season looking into next season.