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Season Preview

Stars season preview: Pavelski adds versatility to offense

Could play center or wing for experienced group looking to build on playoff success

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The 2019-20 NHL season begins Oct. 2. With training camps open, NHL.com is taking a look at the five keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the projected lines for each of the 31 teams. Today, the Dallas Stars.

Coach: Jim Montgomery (second season)

Last season: 43-32-7; fourth place Central Division, lost to St. Louis Blues in Western Conference Second Round

 

5 KEYS

 

1. Pavelski's position

Joe Pavelski played center and wing during 13 NHL seasons with the San Jose Sharks. Where he lines up with the Stars could depend on the play of second-year forward Roope Hintz, who emerged as a solid candidate to be the center the second line last season. Hintz, who tied Alexander Radulov for the Stars lead with five goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, could play in the middle, which would push Pavelski to right wing and lighten his defensive responsibilities. They could opt to use Hintz on the wing on the top line to split Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, which would put Pavelski at center.

 

2. Perry's level of play

Corey Perry is expected to miss two weeks after breaking his left foot Sept. 11 but said he feels he'll be ready for the start of the season. Perry, who was out the first four months of last season with the Anaheim Ducks recovering from a knee injury, scored a personal NHL-low six goals in 31 games and had the final two seasons of his contract bought out June 19. The Stars signed him to a one-year contract July 1 with the hope he can add secondary scoring and experience that comes with winning a Stanley Cup. The foot injury makes finding where Perry best fits that much harder to determine.

Video: ANA@COL: Perry wrists one over Varlamov

 

3. Sekera's place on defense

Andrej Sekera has been limited by knee and Achilles injuries to 60 games the past two seasons, but the Stars are hoping the free agent signing is healthy and able to contribute to a group that will be led by defensemen John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell. If healthy, Sekera, who had the final two years of his contract bought out by the Edmonton Oilers on June 30, can add mobility, boost the second power play and skate against opponents' top players.

 

4. More from Seguin, Benn

Seguin led the Stars with 80 points last season, but his 33 goals were down from 40 in 2017-18. Benn had 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists), a 26-point drop from the season before. The forwards looked more like their high-skill selves during the playoffs, combining for 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 13 games. But for the Stars to do more than fight for a wild card, they'll need that production for 82 games in the regular season.

 

5. Bishop stays strong

Ben Bishop was a Vezina Trophy finalist after leading the NHL with a .934 save percentage and finishing in the top three with a 1.98 goals-against average and seven shutouts. The Stars need him to stay at that level this season. Having Anton Khudobin, who started 37 games to Bishop's 45 and had a .923 save percentage last season, should help keep Bishop fresh and productive.

Video: Ben Bishop lands at No. 3 on the list

 

ROSTER RUNDOWN

 

Making the cut

Ty Dellandrea got his first taste of professional hockey last season with Texas of the American Hockey League, and the 19-year-old center could be in line for a full-time spot with the Stars. Radek Faksa has been the third-line center, but that could be the perfect spot for Dellandrea, who is highly regarded for his hockey IQ and 200-foot game. Last season, Dellandrea, the No. 13 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, had 63 points (22 goals, 41 assists) in 60 games with Flint of the Ontario Hockey League and three points (two goals, one assist) in 11 American Hockey League games. 

Faksa had 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 81 games last season but never had more than the 17 goals he scored in 2017-18. Dellandrea has the upside to push Faksa for more playing time.

 

Most intriguing addition

Sekera could be in line for more ice time than previously thought. Stephen Johns' status is questionable because of concussion-related issues, and Julius Honka has requested a trade. Sekera averaged at least 21:00 per game from 2012-16, but he's averaged 16:00 per game the past two seasons, making it questionable if he can handle a larger workload.

 

Biggest potential surprise

Jason Robertson, selected by the Stars in the second round (No. 39) of the 2017 NHL Draft, will turn pro this season, and the 20-year-old forward could have a chance to bring his scoring touch to the Stars.

Last season, he led the OHL with 117 points (48 goals, 69 assists) in 62 games and had seven points (one goal, six assists) in seven games to help the United States finish second at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. If Robertson can keep up with the pace during preseason games, he could supply needed offense.

 

Ready to break through

Denis Gurianov, the No. 12 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, could be ready for a full NHL season after he scored 20 goals with Texas of the AHL and one goal in 21 games with the Stars, his most extensive NHL action. The 22-year-old forward opted to play in the AHL as an 18-year-old and in his fourth North American season could be ready to bring his combination of size (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), speed and soft hands to the NHL on a full-time basis.

 

Fantasy sleeper

Hintz (average draft position: 172.3) is likely to play with at least one elite forward -- Seguin, Benn, Radulov and/or Pavelski at even strength -- and build off his strong postseason (eight points in 13 games). -- Pete Jensen

 

PROJECTED LINEUP

Roope Hintz -- Tyler Seguin -- Alexander Radulov

Jamie Benn -- Joe Pavelski -- Denis Gurianov

Andrew Cogliano -- Radek Faksa -- Blake Comeau 

Jason Dickinson -- Ty Dellandrea -- Corey Perry

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen -- Andrej Sekera

Jamie Oleksiak -- Roman Polak

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

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