NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Dallas Stars.
The Dallas Stars took a step forward last season, winning the Central Division, earning the top seed in the Western Conference, and advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008 by defeating the Minnesota Wild in six games in the Western Conference First Round.
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"It's huge [to win a series]," said center Tyler Seguin, who had 33 goals, tied for 10th in the NHL, and 73 points, second on the Stars behind left wing Jamie Benn's 41 goals and 89 points. "You can talk about playoffs all you want, but until you win a game, until you lose a game, until you win a series, until you lose a series, you don't really know what it's like."
The season ended May 11 with a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the second round at American Airlines Center.
Dallas was without Seguin for all but Game 2 of the first round because of an Achilles/calf injury. He is expected to be ready to play for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 starting Sept. 17 before the Stars' season opener against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 13.
"[I'm] doing well," Seguin said. "[It's been a] bit of a different summer as far as training-wise just coming off an injury, but [I'm] feeling great and looking forward to the World Cup in the next month or so."
Benn, who was second in points and third in goals in the NHL last season, signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension (average annual value $9.5 million) on July 15, one day after surgery to repair a core-muscle injury sustained during offseason workouts. The Dallas captain won't play for Team Canada in the World Cup but is expected to be ready for Stars training camp and the start of the regular season.
The Stars had a quiet offseason compared to the first three after Jim Nill was hired as general manager in April 2013. The signing of veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis to a two-year contract reportedly worth $7.5 million (AAV $3.75 million) on July 1 was Dallas' most high-profile move. In 2013, the Stars acquired Seguin from the Boston Bruins in a seven-player trade. In 2014, they acquired veteran center Jason Spezza, who scored 33 goals last season, in a trade with the Ottawa Senators. In 2015, they acquired veteran forward Patrick Sharp, who had 20 goals last season, in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks and signed former Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya as a free agent.
Video: Analyzing Dan Hamhuis signing with the Dallas Stars
Adding Hamhuis to bolster the defense was a top priority because three of Dallas' top four defensemen in terms of ice time last season have left.
Kris Russell, whose average of 24:01 per game led the Stars after he was acquired from the Calgary Flames prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, remains an unrestricted free agent; Alex Goligoski (23:50) was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June for a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft; and Jason Demers (20:52) signed with the Florida Panthers. John Klingberg, who averaged 22:41 in his rookie season, returns.
The Stars hoped to re-sign one of the three defensemen, but with getting younger on defense and the $73 million NHL salary cap coming into play, they opted to add Hamhuis, 33, to bolster a young core.
"[Hamhuis] brings everything we're looking for," Nill said. "He's been a winner at every level, he's an experienced player, he's got great leadership skills, he can play any situation you want, he's a great shutdown guy, he can play big minutes. He's the total package."
Dallas lost veteran center Vernon Fiddler, who signed with the New Jersey Devils, and his gritty presence and ability to win faceoffs will be missed. The Stars also lost center Colton Sceviour, who signed with Florida, and depth forward Travis Moen remains an unrestricted free agent.
The Stars signed veteran forward Jiri Hudler, who played for the Detroit Red Wings when Nill was their assistant GM, to a one-year contract. The 32-year-old scored 16 goals in 72 games for the Flames and Panthers last season after getting an NHL career-high 31 for Calgary in 2014-15.
Dallas also signed forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year contract.
Despite the struggles of goaltenders Kari Lehtonen (.899 save percentage) and Antti Niemi (.865 save percentage) in the 2016 playoffs, it appears the Stars are sticking with the veteran tandem.