The Dallas Stars certainly have some questions to answer this summer. Who will be their coach? Who will re-sign and who will walk? Will they add any pieces or trust their depth? Who will be their backup goaltender? Let’s answer a few of those here as we project the 2022-23 Stars roster a few months ahead of training camp.
- Free Agent-Seguin-Gurianov/Peterson
- Kiviranta, Peterson, Studenic, Stranges, Stankoven, Bourque, Damiani, Karsltrom, Tufte
The Stars top line is not going anywhere. They may have had some struggles in the playoffs with all of the weight on their shoulders, but after a dominant season in which Jason Robertson scored 40 goals, Joe Pavelski hit a career-high in points, and Roope Hintz nearly hit the 40-goal mark, this trio will remain together to begin next season. Behind them, things get tricky.
Tyler Seguin continued to improve from his injury throughout the season and before he fractured his foot in the playoffs, showed plenty of glimpse of his former self. I expect him to have a big season and slot into the second-line center spot. Alongside him, Denis Gurianov should get a good chance to return to his 20-goal form in the top six, at least to begin the season. If not, Jacob Peterson showed what he can provide at times during his first season and should be ready for a bigger role this season. Since Dallas did not do much to add scoring last summer, I believe they address that this year and bring in a winger to flank Seguin on the second line. If not, they may believe that their prospects can come in and make a big difference.
The third line will remain a heavy checking line after they had some great success last season doing so. However, with Michael Raffl debating his future and some youngsters ready to make the jump, I expect Ty Dellandrea, Radek Faksa, and Vladislav Namestnikov to hold down that line. Namestnikov and Dellandrea bring the hard work along with some added offense and speed while Faksa is a shutdown forward that has shown offensive flair in the past. Dellandrea also played an excellent Game 7 in Calgary after being in the American Hockey League nearly the entire season. All three will benefit from some scoring depth throughout the lineup and should not have to play heavy minutes as this line did last season.
The fourth line is a solid one. Jamie Benn has likely seen the end of his high offensive numbers, so look for him to embrace a different role this season while others do the scoring. This may actually be the best thing for the captain, who is looking to solidify where he stands. Alongside him is Luke Glendening, who was exactly what the Stars ordered when they signed him in free agency last summer. He provides lockdown defense, excellent faceoffs, and elite penalty killing, plus he had plenty of scoring chances last season. On the right side will be a 19-year-old making his NHL debut in Wyatt Johnston.
While the Stars have a bunch of prospects capable of cracking the NHL roster, Johnston has to be the most likely of the bunch. In 68 games in the Ontario Hockey League, the Windsor Spitfires forward recorded a ridiculous 124 points, a league-best. In the playoffs, he has 33 points in 19 games, leading his team to the OHL Final against the Hamilton Bulldogs. It will be a big jump to the NHL, but he has certainly proven that he is ready to take on the challenge.
Other players that will be battling for a roster spot include Jacob Peterson, who will likely fall in somewhere within the lineup in his second season, Marian Studenic, Joel Kiviranta, Antonio Stranges, Logan Stankoven, Mavrik Bourque, Riley Damiani, Fredrik Karlstrom, Riley Tufte, and more. In fact, Dallas is in a great place with their prospects and players pushing the line of being NHL-ready.
- Gleason, Petrovic, Shea, Free Agent
On defense, the biggest difference will be the absence of John Klingberg. While there has not been anything definitive either way, all signs point towards the 29-year-old blueliner testing free agency, and if Dallas is willing to allow that, it does not seem likely that a deal will be made to bring him back.
With his departure, comes the increase of an already big issue. The Stars lack right-handed defensemen. Klingberg and Jani Hakanpaa were the only two last season and now Dallas will be down to just one. While they could go out and add to solve this issue, it does not seem likely as money will already be tight barring any massive unforeseen moves. Instead, the Stars may have a couple of left-handed players skating on their offside.
Miro Heiskanen has done this plenty and is still an elite player, but he struggled offensively last season and could benefit from being on his strong side. For most others, this will be a new test and the results could go either way. As far as pairings go, it is a toss-up to decide which of the top three (Klingberg, Heiskanen, and Esa Lindell) will go together and which will be with Hakanpaa or even Thomas Harley.
Joel Hanley is a solid option for the final pairing but as said above, the Stars could choose to add a right-handed shot to mix things up. They also have some prospects like Ben Gleason that could push to make the jump to the big league.
This category is both easy and difficult. 23-year-old Jake Oettinger grabbed the starter’s crease after his successful season and elite playoff performance. The situation with Oettinger is nearly perfect. He was forced into action early in his career, went through a condensed season in odd circumstances, and had his ups and downs this season. At times, he was forced to play 10 or more games in a row without a rest, he played back-to-back, and he got his feet wet in an intense playoff series.
The youngster answered the bell, learned from his tests and adversity, and matured even more in front of our eyes. The Minnesota native is barely scratching the surface of what he can accomplish, which is pretty scary because he is already a very good goalie.
Oettinger will start in net but who will be his backup? Dallas went through five goalies last year and still has some uncertainty with this position heading into the summer. Currently, Anton Khudobin is the only other netminder under contract for one more season and is rehabbing after surgery, Braden Holtby is still recovering after his season was stopped due to a lower-body injury, Ben Bishop has retired from playing, and Scott Wedgewood finished the season behind Oettinger, providing some much-needed stability.
For me, the answer should be Wedgewood. The 29-year-old was dying for a chance to prove his worth at the NHL level and remain in one city long enough to unpack his suitcase. He did exactly that in the second half of the season in Dallas, beginning with a 47-save heroic performance in Carolina and finishing with a .913 save percentage overall. Wedgewood would be a fairly safe and cheap option to bring back next season, while Khudobin could either be a fallback or get bought out by the team.
The Stars roster can take many different forms when we finally hit training camp in September. They need some scoring, they need a backup goalie, and they need to figure out their defense with or without Klingberg. While this is a way too early projection, I believe it addresses the Stars’ biggest needs and should reflect the way they approach this summer.
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!