Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dallas Stars 2011-12 Preview

How will the Dallas Stars cope with the loss of Brad Richards? Will Jamie Benn be able to break through?


With the departure of Brad Richards in the off-season, wheels of change have been turning in Dallas.  Veterans such as Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and newcomer Michael Ryder will compliment the burgeoning core of Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.  The Stars boast some talent up front, but their bottom two lines do not appear to be as versatile as the front runners in the Western Conference.




On defence, the Stars retooled with Alex Goligoski and took a chance on Sheldon Souray.  There is some depth and versatility here to ensure that Dallas will not be easy to score against.



In net, Kari Lehtonen began the year simply on fire, but struggled down the stretch as the Stars fell out of the playoff picture.



Losing on the last day of the season sealed their fate, so changes were definitely in order. 



Overall, the team lacks depth down the middle with the departure of Richards.  The Stars may compete for 8th spot in the Western Conference, but are in arguably the toughest division in hockey.  San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim are all likely to finish ahead of them this year.



Dallas  will most likely be 10-12th in the West.

  

Forwards

Dallas has a void to fill without Brad Richards, but plenty of capable fantasy options up front.



Jamie Benn

Benn was a fantasy beast last year and a great surprise.  His special teams play and tremendous year was cut short due to injury.  He’s an emerging threat and the top fantasy option for this team.



Mike Ribeiro

No longer playing behind Mike Modano or Brad Richards, Ribeiro’s time may be now.  He will an increased role this year, but also increased attention.  70 points would not be out of reach, but Ribeiro does tend to get injured at times.  60-65 would be a baseline, but he has the talent for more.



Brenden Morrow

The Dallas captain is a heart and soul guy.  He’s grown up with the Dallas Stars and is usually a lock for 25 goals and 50 points.  Sometimes he teases greater production, but is also injured more often than he’d like. 



Loui Eriksson

Eriksson is emerging as one of the league’s better goal scorers, but also one of the league’s better kept secrets.  His quick shot and excellent pace makes him a dangerous forward to defend against.  30 goals and 65 points are well within reach for this slick Swede.



Michael Ryder

Fresh of his Stanley Cup final victory against the Vancouver Canucks, Ryder left and went to Dallas.  He’ll have every opportunity to play on a scoring line. He can frustrate coaches with inconsistency, but should be good for 40-50 points.



Steve Ott

Ott’s name is often heard in the discussion of the NHL’s most annoying player to suit up against.  While that is true, he also has some offensive ability that is slowly evolving in Dallas. After 32 points last year, he could surpass 40 this season if he focuses on scoring and less on other distractions.  That being said, he has a role and he plays it to a tee.



Radek Dvorak

Dvorak is somewhat of a journeyman.  His role is often to use his speed to compliment talented players.  His best years are behind him and he’ll never repeat his 30 goal 60 point season.  Dvorak will be a useful player in various roles but offence may no longer be his forte.  30 points would be reasonable to expect.


Defence

Alex Goligoski

The Dallas newcomer had a coming out party last year.  His 14 goals and 46 points were eye-opening last year.  Some do not think he can repeat those totals, but being the number one offensive defender Dallas will afford him plenty of opportunity to try.  Expect 40 points and hope for more.



Sheldon Souray

Exiled from Edmonton, Souray will try to redeem himself this year in Dallas.  If he takes advantage of the opportunity afforded to him, he could do quite well and reward you for drafting him.  30 points would be appropriate for him, as injuries are often a concern.



Stephane Robidas

Robidas can provide surprising amounts of offence, but is best viewed as a steady all-around defender. 30 points may be a stretch with other offensive defenders in town.



Goaltending

Kari Lehtonen

The former Atlanta Thrasher had a great start but faltered late in the year, along with the rest of the team.  Few doubt Lehtonen’s talent, but he will need a decent team in front of him to ensure solid statistics.  He should continue to grow as a goaltender, since most bloom later than other positions.



Prediction -  34 Wins



Andrew Raycroft

Raycroft appears best suited to a back-up role after a few years as a starter.  Capable if Lehtonen falters, he’ll be there when needed.

Expect a modest 8-10 wins.



Prediction -  8 wins


TOP SLEEPER


Loui Eriksson


Perhaps due to the southern market, Eriksson seems to fly under the radar. 



Nonetheless, he is immensely talented and is capable of 40 goals some day.  Given his skill and his young age, grab him when other 60-70 point players are being selected and he may surprise you with more.


TOP ROOKIE
G - Jack Campbell

Campbell was excellent in the World Juniors for the USA.  One of the best goaltending prospects from the USA recently, he is still a long-term prospect like most goaltenders, but he’s the best that Dallas has.



There do not appear to be many forwards or defenders ready to crack the line-up in any meaningful way, and Jack Campbell may be the best asset the Stars have not yet in the NHL


Potential Breakout Player
Jamie Benn
Jamie Benn had a coming out party last year.  His short-handed goals, all around play, and offensive production served notice to the rest of the league that Dallas will soon be his team.



Benn has it all—size, speed, skill, heart and determination.



A future captain, Benn can easily surpass 70 points this year and should be a fantasy beast with his special teams capability and toughness.



Benn is a keeper in any fantasy league.  Draft him now before his stock is too high.








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