NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Dallas Stars.
The Dallas Stars have been one of the most active teams this offseason after a disappointing 2016-17 season.
After finishing 34-37-11 (79 points) and failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons, the Stars announced April 9 they were not retaining coach Lindy Ruff, who had an expiring contract. Four days later, they hired Ken Hitchcock, who coached Dallas from 1995-2002 and won the Stanley Cup in 1999, to replace Ruff.
Hitchcock is a defense-oriented coach, and the Stars went about revamping the team in that manner.
First, they acquired pending unrestricted free agent goalie Ben Bishop in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings on May 9 and signed the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist to a six-year, $29.5 million contract three days later.
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"Ben Bishop really got everything rolling for us," general manager Jim Nill said. "He had his no-trade clause and wanted to come to Dallas. He was confident in what we were doing, and that really sent a message that other players we went after picked up on."
The Stars traded a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and goalie prospect Dylan Ferguson to the Vegas Golden Knights on June 26 for defenseman Marc Methot, who played the past five seasons for the Ottawa Senators but was left exposed in the NHL Expansion Draft.
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Dallas then signed unrestricted free agent forwards Martin Hanzal and Alexander Radulov. Hanzal, who had 39 points (20 goals, 19 assists) in 71 games for the Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild last season, signed a three-year, $14.25 million contract July 1, and Radulov signed a five-year, $31.25 million contract July 3 after he had 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in 76 games for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Stars also signed unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Pitlick to a three-year, $3 million contract July 1. The 25-year-old tore the ACL in his left knee Dec. 19 while playing for the Edmonton Oilers and missed rest of the season.
Dallas lost some key players. Forwards Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks) and Ales Hemsky (Canadiens) left in free agency, and forward Cody Eakin was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. The Stars bought out the final season of Antti Niemi's three-year contract, leaving a likely goalie tandem of Bishop and Kari Lehtonen.
Methot has a history of playing with offense-minded defensemen after being mostly paired with Erik Karlsson in his five seasons in Ottawa, and he could fit well with John Klingberg on the top pair for Dallas. The Stars also are hoping for improved play from defensemen Esa Lindell and Stephen Johns, and rookie defenseman Julius Honka has caused excitement within the organization.
Video: Jim Nill on the offseason changes in Dallas
"I think it's a good group," Methot said. "We've got a good mix of the veterans and the young guys. I think the young guys can learn something from the older ones, and us older guys will prove we can still keep up and skate with them."
Offensively, the Stars are hoping to return to their form in 2015-16, when their 265 goals led the NHL.
Left wing Jamie Benn is expected to enter training camp healthy for the first time since 2014-15, when he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL leading scorer, and center Tyler Seguin reportedly has had a strong recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
Hitchcock has made it clear he wants Seguin to be the No. 1 center after he spent most of last season on the wing, and adding Radulov gives Dallas potential for one of the most dangerous top lines in the Western Conference.
Depth scoring could be a strength. Though the Stars struggled last season, younger forwards like Radek Faksa, 23, Devin Shore, 23, and Brett Ritchie, 24, each had an opportunity to step into a larger role. Dallas also may have forward Mattias Janmark back after he missed last season with a genetic knee disorder.
The offseason has created high expectations, and the Stars are hoping to celebrate their 25th anniversary season in Dallas with a return to the playoffs.