As we all know the Dallas Stars had an abysmal follow up season to their spectacular season in 2015-16. Winning the Central Division as well as winning a round in the playoffs solidified the depth the team possessed. But in the 16-17 season, goaltender woes as well as a lack of depth scoring down the stretch of the season hindered any development in terms of following up on their excellent season.
But the Dallas Stars have made a huge splash in the off-season. 4 big name veterans will be joining the Stars in the 2017-18 campaign that hugely improve their squad. This is an exciting time to be a Stars fan as forward depth along with defensive presence has been solidified in these past few weeks. GM Jim Nill has essentially built from the back up, reinforcing 2016-17 inadequacies, while also spending money on some great forwards.
Lets start with the massive goaltender in Ben Bishop. This was a huge signing in Dallas, as their back-stops in the previous season were frankly awful. The former Tampa Bay Lightning standout performed to the caliber of a Vezina finalist just a few seasons prior. The Stars signed Ben Bishop to a six-year, $29.5-million deal, and made the effort to buy out Anti Niemmi, who promptly signed to Pittsburgh on July 1st. Bishop spent parts of the past five seasons with the Lightning, reaching the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. He finished second in the Vezina voting in 2016 after getting selected for the All-Star Game. Bishop also has played for Ottawa and St. Louis. He brings size, playoff experience and youth (in proportion to the Dallas crease) to go along with that large long term contract. His cap hit sits around 4.9 million per season.
Marc Methot was an underrated acquisition for the Stars. After sending over a goaltending prospect AND A SECOND ROUND PICK to the Vegas Golden Knights, GM Jim Nill made serious moves to prevent pucks from going into the net. This was a steal for the Stars, as they are able to acquire a stay at home D man, that can allow young standout Klingberg to flourish offensively. In 2016-17, the Stars’ blue line was in a close running with their crease for most disorderly area of the team. The defense lacked the proper level of skill and could not make up for it as the season went along. Dallas ended the season 29th in goals against, which helped in contributing to their overall demise, and eventual restructuring of their back end.
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Martin Hanzal was the most sought after player at the Trade Deadline this season. The Minnesota Wild won the bid for the massive center-man, but eventually lost in the first round of the playoffs to St. Louis. By solidifying their depth at center and acquiring an excellent penalty killer . Hanzal will basically serve as a booster for all of the Dallas Stars’ weak areas this past year. He’s a massive forward at 6’6, 226 lb. and knows how to get physical and keep an offensive rush alive using his size and reach. He’ll be the biggest player in the Stars’ forward group by a long shot (second place being Adam Cracknell at 6’3, 220 lb.). Dallas owned the 20th best power play and the worst penalty kill in the league last year, hitting record-low numbers when compared to their performance over recent years. They couldn’t win the important face-offs, had no size on offense, and couldn’t piece together a dominant top six. Hanzal brings aid in all of those areas, and will likely result to be the best signing of Free Agent Frenzy.
Hanzel had a relative down year. Recording 20 goals and 19 Assists in 71 games split between the Coyotes and Wild. He logged about 18 minues per game this season. The season prior, he had 41 points in 64 games with the Coyotes. Keep in mind having players like Seguin, Benn and now Radulov to pass to, expect Hanzal to hit 50 points this season.
Alex Radulov this signing occurred today, and is a huge deal for the forwards in Dallas. Radulov should immediately slot into the top line right wing spot, riding shotgun with the dynamic duo of Benn and Tyler Seguin. He was the top forward free agent this summer. He scored 18 goals and 36 assists for 54 points in 76 games last season with the Montreal Canadiens.
After all these signings (and the acquisition of Methot) these 4 players will total over 20 million on the payroll. This places Dallas just about 4 million dollars below the salary cap. These signings also sends a clear message: Dallas expects to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. They’ve gone out and retooled their roster, and expect last year to be a blip after the were the top team in the Western Conference the year before.