Despite falling to the Calgary Flames in seven games in round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Dallas Stars have a lot to be proud of. They overcame scoring issues, found their starting goaltender after cycling through three others, developed a superstar top line with their first 40-goal scorer in years, and nearly defeated one of the better teams in the playoffs. With that, they also have high hopes for the future.
Stars Have Proper Mix of Young & Old
One of the most noticeable things about the Stars roster is the balance between experience and youth. Their older corps features Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Suter, Luke Glendening, Joel Hanley, and Michael Raffl. Just below them is an elite group of younger players such as Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov, Joel Kiviranta, Vladislav Namestnikov, John Klingberg, and Jani Hakanpaa.
Then comes a group of highly-touted youngsters and prospects in Miro Heiskanen, Jason Robertson, Jake Oettinger, Thomas Harley, Jacob Peterson, Ty Dellandrea, Marian Studenic, Wyatt Johnston, Mavrik Bourque, Riley Tufte, Riley Damiani, Antonio Stranges, and the list goes on.
“We’re excited about what’s coming, we’re excited about what’s in place,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “I think the franchise is in a good situation as far as younger guys coming in and the older core that we have to support them.”
The importance of this cannot be ignored. Over the past two seasons, the passing of the torch from the older group to the younger corps has been noticeable. The superstar spotlight has faded from Benn, Seguin, and Radulov and landed on Robertson, Heiskanen, Hintz, and Oettinger.
Essentially, if the Stars play their cards right, they will head into the next few seasons with an older, more experienced group that can still produce, a young corps that can lead the way and develop even further into superstars, and a handful of young talented prospects that can make the jump to full-time NHL players. If you were to ask, that is a hand that any coach in the NHL would be happy to take on.
“I think it’s a great mix,” said Ryan Suter. “We were actually sitting in Calgary, some of the older guys, we were looking at teams that have won and how many guys above 30 they have, and we’re right there. We have a good mixture of old guys and young guys. Everyone cares, everyone’s on the same page and good things are to come.”
Now, take into account the fact that Seguin has not been fully healthy in years, Benn still has more to give, Heiskanen and Gurianov had a down year, Hintz took some time to get going, Robertson is just 22, Pavelski put up the best season in his career, and Oettinger is just barely scratching the surface of what he can become, and there is plenty of reason to be hopeful for both the near and far futures of this franchise.
“I think we’ve got a special thing going here,” Nill said. “We’ve been able to transition from one core group to another core group and we’ve got another group of kids coming in. I’m excited about the future.”
A New Coaching Staff Should Bring Good Change
The Stars have been a good team on paper for a few seasons. However, injuries, lack of scoring, and inconsistency has plagued them and frustrated their fan base outside of their 2020 bubble run. Now, with the news of Rick Bowness stepping down as head coach and all assistant coaches not returning, Dallas has a chance to really put their foot on the gas pedal and reach their potential. If the Stars can find the right mix of coaches that can get the most from the players listed above, this team has the chance to go from good on paper to legitimate contenders in the blink of an eye.
For this to happen, there are a lot of questions that do need to be answered. We will dive more into the top questions facing this team as the summer goes on but it is safe to say, the club is in a good spot with the potential to be great.
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!