Two seasons ago, the Dallas Stars had the highest-scoring offense in the NHL (3.23 goals per game). There's a strong chance they'll return to that elite form after signing right wing Alexander Radulov in free agency.
Radulov signed a five-year, $31.25 million contract with the Stars on Monday, marking Dallas' latest offseason improvement after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. The Stars traded for goaltender Ben Bishop on May 9 and signed him to six-year, $29.5 million contract three days later. They also acquired top-four defenseman Marc Methot from the Vegas Golden Knights on June 26.
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Radulov, who turns 31 on July 5, is poised to play on the first line with left wing Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin or the second line with center Jason Spezza. Radulov moved up to 47th in NHL.com's updated top 250 fantasy rankings after signing with the Stars.
Former Dallas forward Patrick Sharp was limited to 48 games because of injuries last season and signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1. Radulov is younger than Sharp and a huge upgrade on the wing for the Stars' top-six forward group and first power-play unit. The Russia native is a lock to play with Benn, Seguin, Spezza and defenseman John Klingberg on the power play this season.
As a direct result of the Radulov signing, Benn has risen to fifth overall in NHL.com's fantasy rankings, and Seguin (16th), Bishop (68th), Klingberg (84th) and Spezza (102nd) are all trending up as well.
Radulov had 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) and an NHL career-high 16 power-play points for the Montreal Canadiens last season, finishing 73rd in Yahoo based on standard-category fantasy production. He had played the prior four seasons for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. He played parts of three NHL seasons earlier in his career with the Nashville Predators; he had 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists) in 81 games in 2007-08.
Video: DAL@MTL: Radulov pots backhand goal on breakaway
The magnitude of this signing means Radulov deserves much higher consideration in fantasy drafts this fall; he paid huge dividends as a sleeper pick last season after being drafted on average at 119th in Yahoo. Because of the far greater offensive talent around him in Dallas compared to Montreal, he is absolutely worthy a top 50 pick in a standard-league draft.
During the past three seasons combined, Benn, Seguin and Spezza each rank among the League leaders in scoring. Benn ranks third in points in that span with 245, Seguin is tied for fifth with 222, and Spezza is 35th with 175. In power-play points, Seguin is tied for fifth with 82, Benn is tied for ninth with 79, and Spezza is tied for 19th with 69. Among defensemen, Klingberg ranks eighth in points (147) and is tied for 16th in PPP (51).
Radulov, who finished tied for 60th among forwards in even-strength points (38) last season, will have a more talented center regardless of whether he plays on the first or second line for Dallas. His most frequent linemates last season were center Phillip Danault and left wing Max Pacioretty.
In addition to the Stars offense taking a step back (2.71 goals per game, 16th in NHL) last season because of injuries, they allowed the second-most goals per game in the NHL (3.17) behind the Colorado Avalanche (3.37). That said, Dallas' revamped back end and the addition of Radulov have set the stage for Bishop to have a bounce-back fantasy season.
If the Stars offense and Bishop are anywhere near as good as they were separately two seasons ago (Bishop finished first among fantasy goalies with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015-16), that could be a scary combination that puts Dallas back in the postseason. Radulov should score 60 points for the first time in his NHL career and has a real shot of exceeding 70 points with 20-25 PPP if he ends up on a line with Benn and/or Seguin.
A feasible, high-reward fantasy draft strategy would be to select Benn in the first round or Seguin in the second, then Radulov in the fourth or fifth round and/or Spezza outside the top 100. Bishop and Klingberg, if available outside the top 75 overall, would be glaring draft bargains.