Apr 25, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) faces the Columbus Blue Jackets attack during the third period at the American Airlines Center. The Blue Jackets defeated the Stars 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Yesterday, we took a look at Dallas’ organizational strengths–a fresh start with new management and coaching staff, and a prospect pool brimming with talent. Today, we take a look at factors that may be holding them back from being true Stanley Cup contenders.
One of the biggest questions right now is whether Tyler Seguin will make a smooth transition to the Lone Star State and the Western Conference. Can he grow up and focus on playing the best season of his career? Dallas gave up a bundle to acquire him, and there’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders from people expecting him to produce. Is he up to the challenge?
Another factor that is both a blessing and a curse is that the roster is so young. Stud forward prospects Radek Faksa and Valeri Nichushkin stand a serious shot of cracking the team’s lineup, and Jamie Oleksiak is likely a lock for the bottom pairing. There is a lot of youth infused into the lineup, but is there enough veteran leadership to help them along?
Dallas was also a team that couldn’t seem to play a full 60 minutes of hockey–granted, this is coming from a guy covering the Minnesota Wild. Last year, the Stars were an abysmal 2-15-0 when trailing after two periods. That has to be changed in order for them to succeed. Will a change in coaching staff and style turn it around?
Finally, will Kari Lehtonen be able to handle a heavy work load by himself? His backups last season were Richard Bachman and Cristopher Nilstorp, and they didn’t provide much relief for the second pick of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. There’s no question he’s the franchise starter in Dallas, but he could be in trouble without a legitimate backup and there’s no guarantee Dan Ellis will fit the bill. It wouldn’t surprise me if Stars GM Jim Nill makes a move to shore up the position at some point during the season.
There are some serious issues facing the Stars this season. Only time will tell how those issues are addressed.