Today’s post on the Stars is over the defensive side of the ice for the team. Last season, Dallas was a mediocre (maybe even a poor) team defensively. Missed assignments were abundant and any team with some speedy forwards gave Dallas a lot of trouble. Their defensive numbers would have been much worse if not for the stellar play of Kari Lehtonen and at times, Richard Bachman.
This year could be a crapshoot for the Stars blue liners. A big part of it last season, Sheldon Souray, went to the Anaheim Ducks in free agency for a rather ridiculous contract. The laughably bad Adam Pardy was somehow snuck into a trade over to Buffalo and Nicklas Grossman was shuttled to Philadelphia midway through the season last year.
Stepping into those starting shoes will be a bunch of kids and a hopefully competent Aaron Rome. The parts will be much of the same though.
It’s been a rather tough start to Goligoski’s Stars career. While he was pretty effective during the season that he was brought in, last season was very rough. Goose was brought in to be a dynamic playmaker from the blue line, on both even strength and the power play, but did very little last season aside from February. He disappeared during the last critical 18 games of the year (only four total points).
His struggles on the power play also killed the Stars (only nine total points on the PP). A significant hand injury that kept him out a month also did little to ease his troubles. He was alright on the defensive side of the ice. He blocked a ton of shots (93) and didn’t become a human pylon too often.
With all that said though, Goose should be better this season. The signings at forward should alleviate some of his concerns on the power play and he’s had plenty of time to get fully comfortable with the team’s system. He also never has to worry about being paired with Adam Pardy ever again so that’s a thousand pound gorilla off his back. I just want an above average season from him this year.
He’s really got to get his act together though on the ice or things could go sour on him quickly. He’s the highest paid defenseman on the team at $4.6 million per year and is here for four more seasons.
2013 Prediction: 4 goals, 17 assists, 21 points, +2 rating, 6 PIM
Daley might have been the Stars best defenseman last season, on both sides of the ice. I can’t remember many times last season where he got scorched by an opposing forward and he had a great year offensively. He set a career high in assists with 21 and led the team with 115 blocked shots.
Daley gets a lot of grief from Stars fans but he’s been a solid player the past few seasons and led the team in minutes last year. He plays big minutes on both special teams units and has always been a very durable player.
I’d love to see Daley get a little more physical but unfortunately that’s never been his style of play. He’ll need to be paired with Mark Fistric or a physical defender or opposing forwards are going to be all over Kari Lehtonen and screening the hell out of him.
2013 Prediction: 2 goals, 14 assists, 16 points, +1 rating, 28 PIM
Poor Stephane Robidas. One of the toughest players the Stars have ever had just can’t quite keep up anymore. He plays a ton of minutes (always top three on the team) and gets overexposed on the ice. There were countless times last season where he got burned and put Lehtonen in bad spots.
He didn’t do great during his time in Finland while waiting for the lockout to end (15 games, 5 points and a -11 rating). Hopefully he’s going to be as healthy as he’s ever been because he’s still going to be getting a lot of time on ice. He’s one of the few physical players left on the team and will get a ton of work on special teams (especially the PK).
If Robidas has a good season, the Stars will find success. If not, Stars fans will be clamoring for the team to use one of the two buyouts given by the league on him.
2013 Prediction: 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, -4 rating, 22 PIM
Fistric is an endangered species on this team at the moment. He’s one of the few physical players left on the team and a lot of the hitting and protection responsibilities will fall on his shoulders. Fans should expect at least one bone crunching hit from him per game.
Fistric will get more time on even strength and on the penalty kill now that Souray is gone. He needs to tighten up his defensive game as much as possible or this team is in trouble and could easily get pushed around on the ice. I’m hoping for good things from Fistric because I like the kid.
2013 Prediction: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -2 rating, 30 PIM
Philip Larsen will be a key cog for the Stars this year. The young Dane should get more time on the power play replacing Souray and his puck handling ability should be an excellent addition.
Larsen spent his lockout time over in Finland like Robidas but he fared much better. In 21 games with Rauman Lukko, he had 12 points (five goals, 7 assists) and a +9 rating for a very average team.
Larsen should get close to 20 minutes per game this season as he continues to be a bigger part of this team. He plays a little more physical than his stature would suggest and he does a solid job on the defensive side of the ice.
2013 Prediction: 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +6 rating, 6 PIM
Dillon is one of those young guys that should make a huge impression on the team this season. He was brought up at the end of the year last year and did a solid job in the one game that he played in. That one game was enough to convince most Stars fans that this kid was ready for an extended look in the NHL.
Dillon should get that and more this year as the team starts to groom some of their young guys for the future. Dillon should get time as a third pair defenseman and fill in whenever someone else is injured. He has some good skills on offense and has good vision.
2013 Prediction: 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +1 rating, 16 PIM
Rome was the one defensive signing that the Stars made this past offseason way back in June. He was essentially what the Stars signed to fill Pardy’s roster spot. He’ll be expected to be a hitter on this team and should get ample time on the ice as a 2nd/3rd pair defenseman depending on the opponent.
Rome was a part time guy with the Canucks and was an alright player. Don’t expect much from him on the offensive side of the ice.
2013 Prediction: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -2 rating, 36 PIM
The elder Benn brother should be one of the depth defensemen on the team and will get game time whenever he’s needed. He got into three games with the team last year and surprised a bit with two assists in those three games.
He’s been excellent with the Texas Stars so far this year and should be well suited for the role that he plays for Dallas this season.
2013 Prediction: 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2 rating, 12 PIM
Maxime Fortunus could see time if the Stars suffer a huge rash of injuries to the blue line but otherwise, the defensemen should be set for this team. Jamie Oleksiak is a very enticing choice to bring up but he needs to finish out this season in the AHL before being brought up next year. He’s been improving each month with the Texas Stars and should be a lock for the senior team next year.