Dillon was the single biggest and best surprise from last season. Entering the year fans were hoping that he would be a solid contributor. Dillon ended up being best defenseman on the team and was getting top-pair minutes by the latter stages of the season.
He was largely (and criminally) ignored in the Calder conversation though, so he’s still largely an unknown in the league. Stars fans know how good he is though and will be expecting even more out of him this season.
With the addition of Sergei Gonchar this offseason, Dillon will start the year out most likely as the second pair d-man with Stephane Robidas. He’ll still be the defensive stalwart though on this team, and his physical play will be counted on to help protect Lehtonen.
Expectations are high for Dillon this season. Expect him to deliver and lead the team in hits and be top three in ice time.
2013-2014 Prediction: 82 GP, 6 G, 8 A, 14 Pts, +4 rating, 148 PIM
All things considered, last season was probably Goose’s best year in a Stars jersey. He was just three points away (27) from matching his offensive output in 2011-2012 despite playing 24 fewer games. He looked more comfortable at the blue line and quarterbacked the power play with more efficiency (11 PPA).
It’s still not what the Stars were hoping to get out of him though, and he’s really going to need to step it up this season. He gets a new partner in Gonchar, someone he is familiar with during their time in Pittsburgh and someone he has looked comfortable with during the preseason.
With the influx in offensive skill to the team this year, Goose will be expected to put up points in bunches as he’ll most likely be leading the team in minutes and time on the power play.
He had a good year during a critical season in his career last year, and it’s time for him to keep stepping up his game.
2013-2014 Prediction: 78 GP, 12 G, 47 A, 59 Pts, +8 rating, 34 PIM
The 39-year-old Gonchar enters the year as the No. 1 defenseman on the depth chart. He played that role for the Ottawa Senators last season when Erik Karlsson went down with an injury and had a pretty good year. His offensive stats were equal to Goligoski’s (three goals and 24 assists).
He brings more offensive punch to the Dallas blueline and will partner with Goose for the foreseeable future. He’s still capable of big minutes despite his age and will provide a stable presence for Goligoski to fall back on. Heck, he might even be able to teach Valeri Nichushkin a few things.
I’m expecting good things form the veteran defenseman. He should be a solid boost for the new-look puck possession Stars.
2013-2014 Prediction: 72 GP, 7 G, 39 A, 46 Pts, +5 rating, 48 PIM
Dallas fans should know by now what to expect out of Daley. He’s good for a 20-28 pt year with some major up-and-downs during the season while having some confusing own goals. I would expect more of the same out of him again this season, even though he’ll be working as a third pair defenseman mostly.
One thing to keep an eye on though is his neck issue. He had a rather scary sounding fusion surgery during the offseason for a lingering neck problem and had a bit of trouble with it during the preseason. He seems okay for the start of the season but it’s something to keep an eye on. The Stars have plenty of guys ready to step in from the minors (Oleksiak in particular), but Daley has been a big part of the team for the past decade.
2013-2014 Prediction: 78 GP, 6 G, 17 A, 23 Pts, +2 rating, 33 PIM
If you’ve put some bets on Robidas still being on this team despite his struggles the past three years, you’ve probably made yourself a fair amount of cash by now. I wouldn’t have expected Robidas to last this long on this team during the past two trade deadlines, and there will probably be more questions about this again this season.
He’ll probably be a top-four D-man as he’s the only right-handed defenseman on the roster and will be paired with Dillon, someone he paired up with a bunch last season. I really don’t know what to expect out of Robidas. He’s another year older and slower but he’s still as durable as ever. He won’t need to play big minutes this season with Gonchar on board and Dillon ready to take more responsibility. I’m hooping Robi puts up a good defensive season but I’m once again looking at the trade deadline as a time to move him on.
2013-2014 Prediction: 82 GP, 3 G, 15 A, 18 pts, -2 rating, 74 PIM
He took a lot of flak last season but the elder Benn is back once again on the team with a three-year contract under his belt. Jordie will be a third-pair and depth defenseman and will probably see time in the AHL during the year.
It looks like he’s improved his defense, so hopefully it won’t be as tough to watch him out on the ice this year.
2013-2014 Prediction: 52 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts -3 rating, 36 PIM
Connauton finds himself on the big-league roster after a good camp and preseason. He’ll likely start the opener if Daley is unable to play and should stick around for a while as the third-pair D-man while Dallas tries to figure out what he brings to the team.
He’s still largely an unknown commodity as he’s only been here for half a year but he’s shown promising offensive skill and impressed with his preseason play. He could easily be sent back to the AHL if things prove to be out of his level early during the year.
He still looks like a solid piece for the future though.
2013-2014 Prediction: 38 GP, 3 G, 6 A. 9 Pts, 0 rating, 18 PIM
Rome is still around but he’s dealing with a bothersome hip. It doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for the first week of play, and he’s not expected to be more than an extra defenseman this year anyway. He had some major difficulties last season, so that’s probably for the best.
2013-2014 Prediction: 43 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts, -3 rating, 36 PIM
Kari will be the usual Kari. He’ll make some superhuman stops in every game and will have to continuously save this team’s bacon. I don’t think he’ll face to same volume of shots this season with the new Stars system and their plan to be a puck possession team, but he’ll still be in the top third in the league in that stat.
He gets a veteran backup presence this season in Dan Elllis and should get spelled a bunch in order to keep him healthy. The one thing Lehtonen will have to do is be great down the stretch of the season. He’s had some big troubles during the past few seasons as he’s broken down during the year.
2013-2014 Prediction: 64 GP, 36 W, 21 L, 7 OTL, 2.42 GAA, .917 SV%, 2 SO
After Andrew Raycroft, Chris Nilstorp and Richard Bachman the past couple of years, Dan Ellis should be a nice improvement as the backup for Lehtonen. Bachman had a nice run last year but he ended up in Edmonton during the offseason.
Ellis should be a solid backup and will get a good amount of time as Dallas tries to keep Kari healthy. The defense here should be better than what he had last year in Carolina, so he shouldn’t have as many #DanEllisProblems this year.
2013-2014 Prediction: 18 GP, 8 W, 9 L, 1 OTL, 2.86 GAA, .904 SV%, 0 SO