2013 Season Review: The (Original) Top-Six Forwards

Jamie Benn

It was a bit of a weird year for everyone’s favorite future captain. Benn missed the first five games of the season due to his contract issues and arrived on the team without having played with Jaromir Jagr or Ray Whitney, guys he would center for much of the year.

Those chemistry issues were quickly put to rest, mostly due to Jagr’s ability to click with his linemates, and Benn started his season with a great run, registering 14 points in the first 16 games. Things were coming up aces for Benn offensively until the calendar flipped to April.

After registering double-digit points in January and February, Benn had only eight points in the critical stretch of games (two points in the final five games) and often disappeared from games.

Now, much of that could be attributed to a nagging wrist issue that bothered him for six weeks, per the great Mike Heika. That would certainly explain why he scored only six goals in the final two months of the season. The constant fluctuation of the players around him also did no favors for Benn.

While there can be some excuses for his offense, there can be none about his defense. It happened a bit inexplicably this season, but Benn often, way too often, found himself on the ice for an opposing goal.

I hate, really really hate, to use plus/minus as any indicator for anything in reference to a player’s skill, but there was definitely a reason why Benn was a career worst minus-12 this season.

There was a bad stretch in late-January/early-February when Benn was just lost on defense, always late to cover his man and always getting beaten to the puck around the net. Defensive-zone turnovers also became an issue. Things got a bit better at the end of the season, but that’s when his offense failed him.

In the end, Benn still led the team in points and shots on goal, but I still feel like this was a down year for Benn, especially since he got himself a new contract this year.

2013 Prediction: 45 GP, 14 goals, 29 assists, 43 points, +16 rating, 28 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 41 GP, 12 goals, 21 assists, 33 points, -12 rating, 40 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 71 hits (3rd among forwards), 46.1 FO%, 110 shots, 19:54 TOI/G (2nd most among forwards), 3:19 PP TOI/G (2nd among forwards), 10 PP points


Loui Eriksson

I mentioned before the season started that it was really good to be Loui Eriksson. Everyone’s favorite underrated player was entering this year surrounded by playmakers in Benn, Jagr, Whitney and Derek Roy. Everything was set up perfectly to be near a point-per-game player.

In that aspect, it was great to be Eriksson. He was a nightmare for the opposition as he found golden scoring opportunities in abundance this season.

The only problem here was that the nightmare applied to both sides. I’ve never seen Loui look so inept on the offensive end of the ice. His shooting percentage of 11.5 was the worst since his rookie year in 2006-07 and a full three points lower than his career average.

It wasn’t just the average; it was the nature of his chances as well. These were one-on-one opportunities, shots with the goalie out of position and golden chances in which he couldn’t even hit the net.

I would usually chalk up things like this to injury, but it seems Loui was perfectly healthy and will be playing for Sweden in the World Championships.

It’s quite literally a mystery as to what happened to Loui this year. I just hope it can all be attributed to the constant shifting of the players around him and a clear distress that he was getting so many PIMs this season, a whopping eight.

Loui still managed 12 goals (tied for second on the team) and was his usual healthy self to the tune of his second year of 20:00+ minutes of TOI/G.

2013 Prediction: 48 GP, 20 goals, 22 assists, 42 points, +19, 2 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 48 GP, 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points, -9, 8 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 20:07 TOI/G (1st among forwards), 104 shots, 155:51 PP TOI (1st among forwards), 10 PP points

Ray Whitney

Based on how he performed this season and what he meant to this team, the Wizard is the biggest “What if?” from this year’s Stars team. What if Ray Whitney didn’t miss 16 games (from February until early March) due to a broken bone in his foot, a time in which Dallas went 9-6-1?

How much would a possible couple of extra wins changed the outlook of this team at the trade deadline? Would Antoine Roussel ever gotten a chance here? They’re all moot points now, but the loss of Whitney for that extended stretch just flat-out sucked.

When he was on the ice, Whitney was, in all honesty, my vote for the MVP of the skaters on this team (Kari, of course, being the team MVP).

He was the main cog on the power play, lead playmaker on whatever line he was on and so often set up his teammates for great scoring opportunities. He was the team leader pretty much across the board in pretty much all the major corsi categories.  

I underestimated the impact that Whitney would have on this team and the 40-year-old could be the captain of this team next year.

He’s been fun to watch and it’s unfortunate that he missed an extended amount of time. He had double-digit points in the two full months that he played in and led the team with 13 points in April.

Whitney finished second on the team in points, third in assists and fourth in goals. He led the team in power-play points with 12. Remember, this is all despite missing 16 games this year.

2013 Prediction: 41 GP, 13 goals, 20 assists, 33 points, +12, 14 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 32 GP, 11 goals, 18 assists, 29 points, +1, 4 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 3:42 PP TOI/G (1st on team), 12 PP points, 19:24 TOI/G (highest in 10 years)


Jaromir Jagr

Is it weird that the two best skaters on the team were both on the north side of 40-years-old?

Jaromir Jagr was every bit as good as Whitney was this year for the Stars and somehow ended the year as the team leader in goals despite not playing the final 14 games in a Stars uniform.

He had a couple of game-winning goals, a game-winning shot in a shootout and wonderfully shushed the Oilers crowd after scoring an OT winner. He and Whitney pretty much carried the power play, and he was often the single source of hope for Dallas’ offense.

About the only bad things you could say is that he wasn’t effective defensively, but that’s not what he’s around for. The other guys on the team also seemed a bit over-deferential to him on the ice and over-relied on him.

It was unfortunate that the Stars eventually had to trade him away due to their faltering status in the standings.

His trade return of Lane MacDermid, Cody Payne and a conditional second-round pick is a little underwhelming, but a possible first-round upgrade of that pick would do wonders.

It was fun while Jagr was here, and he was clearly a big hit with the fans. He ended up leading the team in goals (14), power-play goals (6) and percentage of awesomeness exuded.

2013 Prediction: 40 GP, 12 goals, 31 assists, 43 points, +14, 12 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 34 GP, 14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points, -5, 20 PIM (with Dallas)

                             11 GP, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, +3, 2 PIM (with Boston)

Ancillary stats of note: 6 PP goals (1st on team), 9 PP points, 87 SOG, 18:18 TOI/G (2nd-lowest total in NHL in last 13 years)


Derek Roy

The short Dallas Stars career of Derek Roy provides just a small amount of analysis. He was brought in to be the No. 2 center on the team, and honestly, he did his job pretty well.

Roy started off slow but had good runs in February and late-March, just before he was traded away. He worked pretty hard on defense and seemed to connect well with his linemates.

He wasn’t very accurate on his shot, but he was a good playmaker tied for third on the team with 18 assists. He was also a pretty reliable guy in the face-off dot.

Dallas just couldn’t get an extension signed, so he really had to go just so the Stars wouldn’t let him go for no return.

The return Dallas got for him, Kevin Connauton and a conditional second-round pick, is quite good and Stars fans shouldn’t be disappointed about this one.

2013 Prediction: 42 GP, 11 goals, 26 assists, 37 points, +7, 24 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 30 GP, 4 goals, 18 assists, 22 points, +3, 4 PIM (with Dallas)

                             12 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +1, 2 PIM (with Vancouver)

Ancillary stats of note: 6.2 shooting percentage (lowest of career, six points below average), 6 PP points, 4 PIM in Dallas (6 PIM total, lowest of career)


Michael Ryder

Michael Ryder was one of the biggest surprises for Dallas a season ago. He entered this year locked in a second-line role and looked poised to score a bunch of goals again.

Unfortunately, his time in Dallas was short as he was traded just 19 games into the season and, curiously, while he was in the midst of a six-game point streak in which recorded nine points. Erik Cole made his way to Dallas in exchange of Ryder and a third-round pick.

Ryder went on to play some great hockey in Montreal, but that’s beside the point. I liked Ryder and would have loved to see him stay, but it’s clear that Dallas was letting him go in the offseason.

2013 Prediction: 46 GP, 26 goals, 14 assists, 40 points, +13, 18 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 19 GP, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, +4, 8 PIM (with Dallas)

                             27 GP, 10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points, -2, 8 PIM (with Montreal)