If you’ve been paying attention to Gone Puck Wild lately, and shame on you if you haven’t, then you know school has begun as Wild fans brush up on their knowledge of the new teams within Minnesota’s division. This week, that new team just so happens to be ”the old team”–that’s right–the Dallas Stars. Going through Sunday, we’ll break down Dallas’ major additions and subtractions, strengths and weaknesses, prospect pool, 2013 draft class and team outlook.
I’d like to preface this with a warning that we’ve been having technical issues lately that seem to cut the tail end of the article. So, if this ends abruptly–well–now you know. Today, we’re going to take a good look at the overall team strengths within the Stars’ organization.
Perhaps the biggest strength within the organization is a fresh start with a new owner. What’s more, this new owner, Tom Gaglardi, has proven he is very serious in his commitment to ice a quality product in Dallas. He started by replacing former GM Joe Nieuwendyk with long-time Red Wings front office fixture Jim Nill, who played a key role on a team that would win four Stanley Cups during his time in Detroit. This was no doubt a move to provide a stabilizing presence for a team that has struggled in recent seasons.
Another stabilizing presence was added with the hiring of former Buffalo Sabres bench boss Lindy Ruff as Dallas’ new head coach. In addition, Ruff has brought James Patrick, his assistant in Buffalo, along to ease the transition to a different organization. Ruff and Patrick were responsible for successfully developing several youngsters into quality NHL players during their time in western New York. There’s no question they’ll look to do the same with promising prospects like Jamie Oleksiak, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin and Jack Campbell.
Speaking of promising prospects, the future is now for Dallas’ young stars. Stud forward prospects Faksa and Nichushkin have a considerable shot at cracking the team’s lineup this year, and Oleksiak is almost a lock for the bottom defensive pairing. In addition, 2009 second rounder Alex Chiasson could also be in consideration for a middle-6 (second or third line) role. With Dan Ellis likely backing up franchise starter Kari Lehtonen, Campbell will be sharing the net with Cristopher Nilstorp in Cedar Park. But more on the young guns later in the week.
With a rebuilt middle, the acquisition of Tyler Seguin allows the face of the franchise, Jamie Benn, to move to his natural position at wing. Ray Whitney, Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole provide good veteran leadership in the forward corps, and Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas provide a solid veteran defensive corps to ease the transition of Brenden Dillon and Oleksiak.
Dallas has all the pieces in place to become a very serious threat in the NHL for a long time to come. However, are their strengths enough to get back into the playoff hunt as early as this season? Come back tomorrow as we dissect and discuss the road blocks standing in the way of the Stars and Stanley Cup contention.