The Dallas Stars have endured a season that much juxtaposes their previous one; however, bringing up fresh legs from the AHL may prove that they can revive themselves next season.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was the presence of numerous players with comparably little NHL experience. Some of these Dallas Stars played in Cedar Park last year; others, as recently as last week.
Although they were unable to hold off the Lightning on Sunday, the Stars dressed 13 players from the 2015-2016 Texas Stars’ roster. Late season call-up forward Gemel Smith scored two goals for Dallas, only one of which counted. Esa Lindell also had a goal waived off, so it seems the Stars were able to make more “almost” goals than actual goals Sunday night. Another of Dallas’ points came from Brett Ritchie. Smith, Lindell and Ritchie played together on the 2015-16 Texas Stars.
Naturally, players are moved between the leagues for any number of purposes but it is something to note when 13 players who were in the AHL last year are reunited in the NHL.
Dallas struggled to keep healthy players this season, that’s a fact. It was not necessarily a bad thing to call players up to the NHL but it also did not provide the Stars with any advantages. The younger players had to adapt quickly to the stronger level of compete. The pace and environments of both leagues are worlds apart.
Stars’ 2016-17 Struggles Could Pay Off in 2017-18
Besides the impending expansion draft for Las Vegas, there aren’t too many changes in the works for the Stars’ roster. Dallas can expect the recovery and return of injured NHL veterans like Antoine Roussel and Patrick Sharp, assuming Sharp intends to renew his contract with the Stars. With their presence on the ice, the Stars will have a surplus of forwards. That means the younger forwards will face intense competition in order to retain their position on the team.
The Stars’ rookies do not have any time to waste. If they want to keep their spots, they’ve got to perform their best from now until next regular season. Though 2016-17 has been a tremendous disappointment, given good health during the off-season, next season could potentially be very rewarding for Dallas.
Depending on the speed at which the call-ups mature, the Stars have a large field of choices for next year. They will be able to pick the strongest, fastest and brightest. The only bridge missing between the younger player’s talent and success in the NHL is time and experience; unfortunately for them, the Stars’ remaining time this season is not ample.
Fate of the Stars is in Hands of Younger Players
Bringing up a significant number of 2015-2016 Texas Stars provides evidence of Dallas’ level of desperation. Luckily for them, pressure to make the Stanley Cup playoffs is off the table for 2016-2017. The 13 players reunited on Sunday against Tampa Bay signified the reality of the Stars’ future: Youth and a shortage of NHL experience will either destroy the team next year or it won’t be a factor at all. Both are rather extreme, but the team’s fate truly depends on the younger players’ level of commitment.
The Stars have their hands full right now ending their season gracefully. Outcomes aside, they have displayed an increased amount of stamina and determination in later games. Perhaps the newer additions are already making a bigger impact than they realize.