The Dallas Stars saw a mostly disappointing season — 23 wins and 19 losses and missing a playoff spot by the end of their 2020-21 NHL season. Two of their top forwards were out with major injuries, and their top goalie didn’t play a single game. Having each of these players staying healthy throughout the upcoming season would be Dallas’ best bet to having a bounce-back campaign. Here are the three players looking to up their games played this season and whether or not they will bounce back or fall flat on the ice.
Last season was not a particularly noteworthy one for Seguin in terms of ice time. After undergoing hip arthroscopy, labral repair surgery and a right knee scope over a month later, he was in no place to power through the 2020-21 season. Dallas finished 18th in goals for — that number could have been higher if they had their No. 1 center, but he missed all but three games.
Now, the surgeries have set him back quite a bit, and he’s heading into the 2021-22 season with something to prove. His knee surgery caused him to almost entirely lose his quad muscle, and he spent this past offseason slowly rehabbing it back to full strength. He’s starting essentially at ground zero going into this new season, so everyone will be looking to see how he’s going to shape up. He needs to bounce back in order to fill his first-line position alongside Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov (who is also coming back from an injury).
Will Seguin Bounce Back in 2021-22?
Seguin has always been a strong center on the Stars’ first line, but given the state of his rehab, he may not be entirely ready physically to keep up with his team. However, he has never really had any major injuries, so the chances of him bouncing back are likely higher than if he had prior history. He has the mental ability and initiative to push through and the grit to give it his all, but we will see if it actually holds out. He’s skated in practices, so hopefully he finds his skating legs before the preseason begins. Whether or not he will bounce back remains a toss-up, but his dangerous offensive skill is definitely missing from the lineup.
Along with Seguin’s linemate, Radulov was also off the docket for some of the past season, albeit not all of it. The right winger played his last game of the 2020-21 season on March 18 after sustaining an injury to his core, finishing the year with 12 points in 11 games.
Radulov had surgery and expects to be ready for the upcoming season. Whether or not he does remains to be seen, but the Stars desperately need his big body skating out there if they want to see any chance of a Stanley Cup run this season.
Will Radulov Bounce Back in 2021-22?
Radulov will be just fine for the upcoming season. He is still expected to make a full recovery and seamlessly slide back into Dallas’ top two lines. He’s a strong body with threatening, energetic plays and a strong work ethic, so if he does make it back into the Stars’ lineup before the season begins, I expect we will see the same top offensive player that left the season too early with a botched-up core.
Bishop was the Stars’ starting goalie for three straight seasons before last year, but since he didn’t touch the ice for the entire season, his impact remains uncertain. The goaltender added to his long list of injuries with a torn meniscus on his right knee before 2020-21 even began. He, similar to Seguin, had knee surgery on Oct. 21 to repair it and was only expected to be gone for five months… which turned into the entire season. The expectation is he now returns in October, right after Anton Khudobin had a decent season filling his place, and after Braden Holtby has been added to the roster.
Will Bishop Bounce Back in 2021-22?
Bishop was no doubt thriving in his most recent season with the Stars, with a .920 save percentage in 2019-20. But after missing an entire season — one that was flooded with new contracts and a playoff drive coming out of the 2019-20 NHL Bubble (where the Stars made it to the Stanley Cup Final) — the 6-foot-7 netminder is likely going to need a few games to adjust, not only to the work done on his right knee, but also to a team eager to make an impact this season after a disappointing 2020-21 run.
He’ll have some competition for the top goaltender spot with Khudobin coming off a decent season, Holtby coming off a terrible season and ready to prove himself, and new blood in Jake Oettinger coming into the mix as a backup. He’s due to bounce back, though, and given the opportunity, he might be able to prove he belongs in the top spot between the pipes.
It is only a matter of time before the season begins and the players can no longer imagine how the season will go but rather show up and prove they’re destined for a season better than the last. The Stars are hungry for the Cup, and these three have to decide how they’re going to be a part of it.
Raylene Lung is a journalist based in Ottawa and has a Masters of Journalism from Carleton University. She has previously written for The Victory Press, The Hockey News, Canadian Geographic and most recently worked at CBC Edmonton. She still reads magazines religiously and loves women’s hockey. When she isn’t writing, she is riding her horse. She currently covers the Dallas Stars for The Hockey Writers.