We have reached perhaps the biggest question of the series, do the Dallas Stars have enough offense this season? Scoring goals has been a tough task for this defensive-oriented team dating back to 2018. Last season, the lack of scoring was among the top reasons they missed out on the playoffs. Heading into this season, general manager Jim Nill decided not to add any offensive pieces to the roster. Instead, he stacked his defense even further with the hopes that the returning key players would add enough offense. Will he regret that decision or did he put all the right pieces into place? We will find out.
Seguin, Radulov & Hintz Ready to Go
A large part of Nills’ decision not to add offensive players was the return of three key offensive players from previous injuries. Tyler Seguin played in only three games last season following knee and hip surgeries, Alexander Radulov played in only 11 games and was forced to undergo core surgery, and Roope Hintz battled a groin injury all season that required surgery this summer. With those three players at full health, it feels that the Stars are receiving rather large additions from within.
“To have those guys back healthy, ready to go, that’s a major plus for our team,” said Stars general manager Jim Nill. “At the time when Radulov got hurt, he was our leading scorer. He was playing some of the best hockey I’ve seen him play. And Tyler has been one of the elite scorers in the league.”– Stars’ general manager Jim Nill
Seguin is Feeling “Dangerous”
Seguin has been among the top scorers for Dallas since coming to the team in 2013. He has multiple seasons with more than 35 goals, including one 40-goal campaign in 2017-18. As his career has gone on, he has become more defensively responsible, which usually leads to a slight downtick in offensive numbers. However, as his plus/minus rating has increased, his point total has as well. Two of his best overall seasons came in 2017-18 and 2018-19 where he held a hefty plus/minus and scored over 78 points in each. This season will be his first at full health since early 2019, so he will be ready to prove he can still produce. In fact, when asked how he was feeling on Day 1 of camp, Seguin responded “dangerous.”
“I learned a lot about myself and understanding how grateful I am to do the things I love and have this lifestyle and that all came from not being able to live it, not being able to be here with the guys and play the game I love,” Seguin said of having two major surgeries in the offseason and then fighting to play three games. “So the biggest thing was just how passionate I was about the game.”– Stars’ forward Tyler Seguin
Radulov’s Energy is Infectious
Radulov may be one of the most underrated players in the NHL. Not only can he score goals, but his energy and attitude are infectious in the locker room.
“No one loves to score more than Rads,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said. “It’s fun to watch him. You miss his enthusiasm and his work ethic. It’s good to have him back. He’s in really good shape physically and we hope he can stay healthy.”– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
Radulov has quietly been one of the most productive players on the Stars’ roster over the past few seasons. Last season, he tallied 12 points in the 11 games he played before requiring surgery. Before that, he racked up 72 points in both 2017-18 and 2018-19 while teaming up with Seguin and Jamie Benn on the top line. On top of his great regular-season numbers, he also produces in the playoffs. Most notably, in the 2020 Playoffs, he scored eight goals and tallied 10 assists in the 27 games during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. If you want to see his skill, energy, and passion all in one clip, check out his overtime winner below.
Radulov has been dealing with a chronic core injury since 2015, one that is not uncommon to hockey players. After successful surgery, the 35-year-old forward finally feels that he is at 100 percent and ready to go.
“It’s my first surgery since I started playing hockey,” Radulov said. “At some point, you realize you’re not getting younger. It’s tough, but it’s a great feeling when you can go and compete as a normal hockey player instead of always thinking what if I do this, what if I do that. Going on the ice and giving 60 or 70 percent, it’s not enough. You’ve got to give it all.”– Stars’ forward Alexander Radulov
Hintz No Longer Playing on “One Leg”
Hintz is different from the other two in that he did play most of the Stars’ games last season. Battling through a groin injury, he suited up for 41 games, although his status was unknown until warm-ups each night. After the season, it was disclosed that his injury originally occurred during the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
The injury required surgery but Hintz opted to play through it until after the season. If you did not know about the injury, you would never be able to tell by watching him play. The 24-year-old forward flew up and down the ice at full speed, backing off defenders and scoring highlight-reel goals. In 41 games, he tallied 43 points as he anchored the top line with Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson. Without the excellent play of Hintz and his line, Dallas would have never come close to a playoff spot.
Hintz is on schedule to be ready for the season opener and is taking full part in training camp. Stars’ fans have to wonder what he is capable of when he is not playing on one leg.
“It’s clear he is such a great impact player for us when he is in the lineup,” Bowness said. “He is such a great player and great skater and when he is not in our lineup, you notice it.”– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
One thing is clear about this season, Nills’ decisions are under the spotlight. After making minimal moves over the past few seasons, he has seen those choices come back to haunt him. Specifically, when Dallas struggled with injuries last season, the lack of depth became obvious. This summer, Nill added defensive players Ryan Suter, Jani Hakanpaa, Luke Glendenning, Braden Holtby, and Michael Raffl. Will the added defensive depth allow star players to focus more on offense? Will the return of the key players above be enough to boost their goal scoring? Will they bring out the best in others like Jamie Benn, Jason Robertson, Denis Gurianov, and Joe Pavelski? On paper, it seems like the pieces are there. Now, they will need to put them all together.
Sam Nestler is a 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 NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!