NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three important questions facing the Dallas Stars.
[Stars 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]
1. Can they score more goals?
Dallas made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season largely on the performance of goalie Ben Bishop, who was a Vezina Trophy finalist, and its defense, which allowed the second-fewest goals (200) in the NHL behind the New York Islanders (191).
But if there is one area the Stars need improvement, it's scoring goals. They were tied with the Arizona Coyotes for third-fewest in the NHL with 209, and only had three players who scored more than 15 (Tyler Seguin, 33; Alexander Radulov, 29; Jamie Benn, 27).
"We struggled to score and that's a big area of improvement we want to make," coach Jim Montgomery said. "But I think we're going to be better just because I think if you look at how we scored in the playoffs and in our last 20 games, it was at a higher rate than our previous 60."
The Stars are hoping that trend continues with the signing of forwards Joe Pavelski, who led the San Jose Sharks with 38 goals last season, and Corey Perry, who has scored at least 30 goals six times in the NHL.
"We'll try to increase that number a little bit, and hopefully it will all work out," Pavelski said. "[The] power play is something where I've always been able to produce, but again, we're going into a new situation. There's ice time that'll need to be earned and chemistry that'll need to be worked out."
Video: 31 in 31: Dallas Stars 2019-20 preview
2. Will Roope Hintz take the next step?
A second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Hintz had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 58 games as a rookie last season. But the 22-year-old forward came on late for Dallas, getting 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his final 14 games playing on the second line. He continued that production in the playoffs with five goals in 13 games, tying Radulov for most on the Stars.
With the departure of forwards Mats Zuccarello (Minnesota Wild) and Jason Spezza (Toronto Maple Leafs) in free agency, Hintz will get the opportunity to play a bigger role this season.
"He has to relish being [an elite player] and that goes into his summer training right now and it's going to carry over into how he approaches training camp," Montgomery said. "The worst thing in life is to get comfortable. He's a terrific young man, so we don't expect it. But you can never say it until someone proves it to you that they want to be special."
Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Benn dishes to Hintz on rush for goal
3. What will the lines look like?
Dallas needs more depth scoring, so it's possible Montgomery breaks up his top line of Benn-Seguin-Radulov like he did at times last season.
However, does that mean Pavelski will play on the first line? And is Perry a top-six forward?
"We know that Benn, Seguin and Radulov have this chemistry together, but maybe we find that we have better chemistry with Pavelski, Benn and Radulov and Seguin has great chemistry with Hintz and Perry," Montgomery said. "That's just an example, but anybody that followed our team last year knows that I like to mix lines up depending who's on that night, who's not, so everybody's probably going to get the opportunity to play with someone at some point."