With training camp and preseason now complete, the Dallas Stars’ starting roster for the fast-approaching season opener is almost completely finalized.
The Stars have a deep system, with many impressive youngsters and seasoned pros alike being sent back to juniors or down to the AHL because they didn’t make the final cut.
That being said, the bigger picture of the Stars’ roster looks promising, with depth and talent at all positions, a nice combination of veterans and youth, and the ability to both score and defend. Mark Stepneski over at Stars Inside Edge had a great preview of what the Stars’ roster will most likely look like come opening night.
However, going beyond the obvious information of who made the roster and where they might find themselves playing in the lineup, there are a number of other, quirkier, statistical-related story lines that will be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses. Here now is a quick rundown of some of those stories:
That’s the number of players on the Stars’ starting roster that have yet to play 82 games, or the length of a normal NHL season, in their careers.
Those players, and their career NHL games, look like this:
- Cody Eakin – 78 games
- Ryan Garbutt – 56 games
- Brenden Dillon – 49 games
- Antoine Roussel – 39 games
- Chris Mueller – 37 games
- Jordie Benn – 29 games
- Lane MacDermid – 14 games
- Alex Chiasson – 7 games
- Valeri Nichushkin – 0 games
- Kevin Connauton – 0 games
The Stars are a team right in the middle of a rebuild, so an infusion of youth is to be expected, but 10 players is almost half of the roster. That’s a lot of players that haven’t played a full NHL regular season yet. The youngsters are an assorted mix, but they all show a lot of potential in their own ways, so how well they perform will be a huge deciding factor in how much success Dallas has this season.
That’s the number of points (one goal and six assists) that Tyler Seguin scored during the preseason.
Seguin, acquired from the Boston Bruins during the offseason, is going to be facing the most pressure of his NHL career thus far. Not only is he trying to gel with a new team, but he is also being trusted with the role of the team’s #1 center.
However, Seguin’s production during the preseason suggests that his acclimation period might not be as bad as expected. His seven points were best on the team, and tied him for 6th out of all players. Seguin seems to be forming very strong chemistry with talented left wing Jamie Benn, so his impressive preseason scoring could very well continue on into the regular season.
3) 7 (again)
That’s the number of players on the team that can comfortably play center. The list is Seguin, Benn, Eakin, Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley, Vernon Fiddler and Chris Mueller.
One of the team’s biggest weaknesses in recent years, center depth is now one of the team’s strongest attributes. Full credit goes to new general manager Jim Nill for reloading his team up the middle thanks to the acquisitions of Seguin, Horcoff, Peverley and Mueller this summer.
Speaking of centers, that was Peverley’s faceoff percentage last season with the Bruins.
In contrast, Fiddler’s 51.5% was the best among Dallas centers last season, so the addition of Peverley will do wonders for Dallas’ ability to win draws. The fact that Peverley is a strong two-way player and can play on the powerplay and the penalty kill, making his faceoff prowess applicable in all situations, doesn’t hurt.
5) 6’1″, 203
That’s the average height and weight of the team’s current 8-man defense group.
Comparing those numbers to the rest of the NHL, the Stars are very much below average in terms of size, with 22 year-old Brenden Dillon the biggest player in the group at 6’3″ and 225 pounds.
Dallas’ blueline has the speed and agility to quickly move the puck up the ice, but their smaller size might cause a lot of issues when it comes to winning battles in the corners and in front of the net.
6’7″ Jamie Oleksiak will start the season in the AHL, but is almost NHL-ready and could easily play a significant amount of time in Dallas this year.
That’s the number of years separating the team’s youngest player, 18 year-old Nichushkin, and their oldest player, 41 year-old Ray Whitney.
To put that into perspective, in 1995, the same year that Nichushkin was born, Whitney was already playing in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 25 points in 39 regular season games that year and then eight more in 11 playoff games.
That’s the number of points scored by forward Colton Sceviour during the regular season, in only five games. Four of those points were goals, ranking him tops among all Stars during the preseason in that category.
The 24 year-old was one of the most surprising final roster cuts. Although he is starting the season in the AHL, Sceviour’s strong preseason makes him the most likely forward to get called up if the situation calls for it.
That was Dallas’ record during the preseason.
In terms of points, Dallas earned 12 out of a possible 14 with that record. Only Boston at 6-1 was better during the preseason.
Now, preseason performances aren’t a true indication of what’s going to happen during the regular season, since most of the rosters during the preseason are in a state of flux, with many players that played ultimately destined to spend the entire year outside the NHL.
However, for a Stars team that has a new GM, a new coach, and a large number of new faces on the ice, their preseason success has to be taken as a positive sign. The current iteration of the Stars will still require a lot of time before the bigger picture fully comes into focus, but they are already off to a great start.