Stars’ Scoring Depth a Key to Prolonged Success

The difference between a good and great team in the NHL depends on a handful of attributes. Of course, goaltending plays a significant role, but it is not the only quality necessary to describe a Stanley Cup contender. One may also highlight a commitment to defense and the capability to play a hard-nosed, physical style of hockey. However, another critical characteristic exists in the NHL’s recent champions. For an organization to experience prolonged success, it must possess scoring depth, receiving production from all four lines as well as the defensemen.

Unlike last season, the Dallas Stars deploy a roster equipped to provide scoring throughout the lineup. The sample size remains small 12 games into the 2022-23 campaign, but still, offensive contributions are coming from all over, allowing head coach Pete DeBoer the luxury of rolling out consistent lines and pairings.

Stars’ Top Notch Top Six

As with most successful teams, the bulk of the Stars’ offensive production comes from its top six. Of course, their top line is the most dangerous, with Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski rounding out the organization’s top three in point production.

After a phenomenal 2021-22 season scoring 41 goals and adding 38 assists, Robertson is off to another strong campaign. In just 12 games, the 23-year-old is up to eight goals and ten assists while cementing himself as the cornerstone of the Stars’ new core. Centering that line is another integral member of the future in Hintz. An upcoming restricted free agent, he provides the playmaking to compliment Robertson’s scoring prowess, registering 11 assists while providing five goals of his own.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom makes a save on Roope Hintz of the Dallas Stars (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom makes a save on Roope Hintz of the Dallas Stars (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

At 38 years old, Pavelski continues to prove that age is just a number, posting six goals and six assists thus far. Recording three of his goals in one contest, his scoring is slightly more streaky than meets the eye. Still, there is no denying his importance as a primary producer for the Stars this season.

Though not as stable as the top line, the Stars’ second line is led by a well-known commodity experiencing a resurgence and a new squad member entering his prime. Now healthy, Tyler Seguin is back to providing the production level to which the team has grown accustomed. Off to ten points in his first 12 games, he looks comfortable in his role as the second-line center, giving the team an elite one-two punch down the middle. On his wing, Mason Marchment is proving early on that his 47 points in 54 games with the Florida Panthers last season was not a fluke. Instead, it began his ascension as one of the league’s legitimate second-line wingers.

Related: Stars Have Options for Options for Handling Denis Gurianov

Unlike the second line’s center and left-wing position, the right wing has been a little bit of an experiment, with Ty Dellandrea and Denis Gurianov receiving an opportunity to earn that role. Based on his sheer skill set, Gurianov appears to be the preferred player in that position. After a slow start, he seems to be gaining confidence and providing the necessary production for a player inhabiting the top six. If Gurianov continues to produce and divert from his past inconsistencies, the Stars possess two lines that rival most other NHL contenders.

Reliable Third-Line Contributions

The Stars’ early contributions from its third line serve as the critical element for optimism surrounding the organization’s depth on offense. The line possesses a healthy dose of youth and veteran leadership, partnering young forwards Wyatt Johnston and Ty Dellandrea with Stars captain Jamie Benn.

Hands down the Stars’ most surprising storyline to begin the season, rookie center Johnston not only surpassed expectations by remaining with the team after his nine-game trial period, but he has also already cemented himself as one of its best secondary scoring options. With four goals in his first 12 games, he has provided the team with production when the more prolific scorers have hit a dry spell. Of course, this was something the team desperately missed last season. If the top players were not producing, the offense completely went flat. So far, Johnston is making sure that does not happen this time.

Although his high-end playing days appear behind him, Benn remains a valuable presence on the Stars’ roster. The 30-plus goals per season are likely a thing of the past, however, Dallas’s captain provides a veteran presence, assisting in a smooth transition to the younger core of the future. That said, his offense has experienced a resurgence as of late. After his hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday (Nov. 5), he has four goals and seven assists to start the season. His offensive consistency may not exist as it once did, however, they will welcome the moments when they get flashes of a younger version of the Stars icon.

Production From the Blue Line

The Stars may not possess as many high-end puck-moving defensemen as they would like. Still, the two they have will likely be consistent contributors to the team’s scoring efforts moving forward.

Arguably the Stars’ best player, Miro Heiskanen, provides his team with offensive firepower while remaining disciplined defensively. He is the lifeblood of the power play and gives his squad much-needed offensive versatility. He missed three games due to injury and has two goals and six assists in his first nine contests.

Miro Heiskanen Dallas Stars
Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although not as established as Heiskanen, newly-acquired Nils Lundkvist possesses similar qualities that will eventually make him a respectable offensive threat. With just four assists thus far, he has demonstrated signs of becoming a valuable offensively-gifted defenseman who should likely provide plenty of contributions as he continues his development.

Along with a few other vital attributes, quality scoring depth helps distinguish the good teams from the great. The ability to receive production throughout the lineup goes far in a team’s quest to hoist the Stanley Cup in June. Unlike last season, the Stars possess that depth. Now it is all about seeing how far it can take them.