Benn gets a fresh start this year. Aside from the rebranding of the team, Benn’s back to his old position, was made the captain and has a brand new coach to work with. It took a while but this is now finally his team. The added responsibility only increases the pressure on him. From all indications this offseason, Benn is hungry and ready to take this season by the throat.
His partnership with Tyler Seguin will be the second biggest factor in how the Stars do this season (Kari Lehtonen always being No. 1). They’ve looked good so far in the preseason and seem well on their way to developing a solid chemistry.
The one worry will be how Benn does on defense. He and his line had immense difficulties last season and consistently found themselves on the ice when the other team scored. Lindy Ruff is a huge proponent of two-way hockey, so hopefully Benn takes in all of Ruff’s advice quickly.
It’s time that he officially made himself a superstar in this league.
2013-14 Prediction: 80 GP, 31 G, 39 A, 70 PTS, +11 rating, 62 PIM,
For a guy who’s been in the league for only three seasons, it seems like it’s been a really long road for Seguin. He had a solid playoff performance in his rookie season before looking like one of the best young players in the league in his second year.
His “down” season last year, which consisted of 32 points in 48 games, was put under more scrutiny after only eight points (one goal) in 22 playoff games, and the 21-year-old natural center playing out of position at wing was made expendable.
As much as I, and all Stars fans, loved Loui Eriksson, this trade couldn’t be passed up.
Seguin is back to center this year and finds himself centering Benn and most likely Erik Cole at the start of the year.
It’s been a while since Seguin centered anyone, and his faceoff prowess is still a question mark. He’s looked solid so far in preseason though in the dot and has looked explosive on the ice. Like Benn, the issue will be on the defensive side of the ice. Seguin isn’t known for being a good defender and going up against other top lines could prove troublesome.
As for his off-ice problems, Seguin has been a model citizen since deactivating his Twitter account early in the summer. He’s stayed quiet and been doing charity work in the area. The kid is maturing on and off the ice and the Stars are all the better for it.
It’s bounce-back time for young Tyler.
2013-14 Prediction: 82 GP, 26 G, 41 A, 67 PTS, +9 rating, 22 PIM
The much-maligned Cole had a rough half-year with the Stars in 2013. As the de-facto replacement on the ice for Brenden Morrow, Cole managed only seven points (six goals) in 28 games despite time on both of the top lines and on the power play.
He looked a bit tentative and unsure of himself on the ice, and there were only a few glimpses of the “good” Cole last year. The 34-year-old looks rejuvenated on the ice though and has looked solid in camp and in preseason so far. He’s getting top line minutes alongside Seguin and Benn, which is a dream scenario for him, and his role is as simple as it can get. Cole will be making a living right in front of the net this year and should have a bigger impact on the team. If Cole isn’t able to work out, the Stars have some solid young guys itching for more ice time.
2013-14 Prediction: 78 GP, 21 G, 14 A, 35 PTS, +5 rating, 18 PIM
Whitney was one of the few pleasant surprises last year. He was a key cog to the team and the Wizard was quite wizard-like during his time on the ice. It was evident how important he was, especially on the power play, when he missed a large chunk of time with his broken foot.
Despite missing 16 games, he still had 29 points (11 goals) and led the team in power-play points (12). Whitney should have an even more well-defined role this year. He’ll be the leader on the second line and run the power play once again.
There might be some slight worries about his health (being 41 and all), but he’s been surprisingly durable in the latter stages of his career. The 16 games missed last season was the most he’s missed since the 2007-2008 season (also 16 games). He missed only nine games from 2008-2012.
2013-14 Prediction: 79 GP: 18 G, 41 A, 59 PTS, +8 rating, 26 PIM
Like Whitney, Eakin was a wonderful surprise last year. Most people were expecting a kid who would scrap for some time on the third and fourth lines but Eakin stepped up and exceeded all expectations and filled in admirably when he was needed on the top two lines. His numbers would have looked even better if he had any luck with his shot.
With the influx of centers in the offseason, it looked like Eakin would be on the depth lines again, but he’s been making an extremely strong case during the preseason that he should centering the second line.
He’s earned his time there right now and has been rolling with Whitney on his left side and a combo of Chiasson and Nichushkin on the right in the preseason. He’s looked great, sometimes like the best player out there, and I’m all-in at this point for Eakin as the starter for the second line.
2013-14 Prediction: 82 GP, 19 G, 37 A, 56 PTS, +4 rating, 58 PIM
Chiasson only had a limited time last year with the team but man, what an impression he made. The kid had points in five straight games and goals in four of his first six games of this career.
Coincidence or not, Dallas won all five games in which he had points and only won one of the other nine games that month (seven of which he missed due to injury).
He returns this year ready to start with the team and has been getting second-line minutes alongside Eakin and Whitney. He had great chemistry with the Wizard last year and that’s shown itself again in preseason.
As of right now, I’d say he’s the starting RW for that second line.
2013-14 Prediction: 78 GP, 22 G, 17 A, 39 PTS, 0 rating, 14 PIM
Peverley has had a tough time so far this preseason. He was shut down for a while after doctors detected that he had an irregular heartbeat. He just recently got back onto the ice but hasn’t been cleared for contact just yet.
He hasn’t had much time to acclimate with the team and get into game flow, so I’m not sure yet where exactly he’ll line up. If he was healthy, I would have thought that he could have meshed well on the first line with Benn and Seguin as a compliment to their skills.
As of right now, he’s probably a third-line guy who will switch into the second-line center spot at times.
Peverley will be counted on mostly for his defensive skills this year while Benn and Eakin hold down the offense fort for the centers. Expect him to be among the team leaders in PK time and starts in the defensive zone.
2013-14 Prediction: 80 GP, 13 G, 19 A, 32 PTS, +3 rating, 36 PIM
Nichushkin is a fantastic story right now. He’s shown incredible flashes of skill during the prospect camps and the preseason. He looks like a lock to make the roster in some fashion, and it would be a shock if he doesn’t somehow figure into Calder conversation this season.
He’ll most likely start the year on the third line and should be a bulldozing menace on the ice. He’s still an extremely raw talent, but Dallas hasn’t had a rookie talent like him in a long while. I’m looking for a solid season from the kid.
2013-14 Prediction: 76 GP, 19 G, 14 A, 33 PTS, -2 rating, 44 PIM