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Team Reset

Stars hope Dan Hamhuis plays big role on defense

Former Canucks D-man could play alongside John Klingberg after loss of Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski

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

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Dallas Stars:

The Dallas Stars had the best record in the Western Conference last season but were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They played the entire series without top-line center Tyler Seguin, who missed all but one game after March 17 because of a partially severed Achilles tendon and a calf injury.

Although the playoff loss was a disappointment, the Stars will return most of the same players from last season. General manager Jim Nill was busy each of the past three offseasons, trading for Seguin (2013), center Jason Spezza (2014), forward Patrick Sharp (2015) and goaltender Antti Niemi (2015) and signing free agent defenseman Johnny Oduya last offseason.

This summer, the big addition was defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who signed a two-year contract to add veteran leadership to a young defense group. 

"He's a good person to start with," Nill told the Stars website. "He's a good hockey player. I think he is going to be a big addition and really help our team."

Here is what the Stars look like today:

KEY ARRIVALS: Dan Hamhuis, D: The left-shot defenseman likely will replace Alex Goligoski and play on the top pair with John Klingberg. Hamhuis is 33 but motivated to make up for the past two seasons, when injuries limited him to 117 games with the Vancouver Canucks. … Adam Cracknell, RW: An experienced forward who can provide depth and play up and down the lineup. He signed a one-year contract after he had 10 points in 52 games last season with the Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. … Andrew Bodnarchuk, D: The 28-year-old defenseman signed a two-year contract to provide depth with NHL experience. He had four points in 37 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche last season.

Video: VAN@CGY: Hansen feeds Cracknell for a score

KEY DEPARTURES: Jason Demers, D: The 28-year-old had seven goals in 62 games, the most he has scored in his seven NHL seasons, and also played a big role in the Stars' 10th-ranked penalty-killing unit. He signed a five-year contract with the Florida Panthers in free agency. … Vernon Fiddler, LW: The fourth-line wing led Stars forwards in average shorthanded ice time per game (2:10) last season. He signed as a free agent with the New Jersey Devils. … Alex Goligoski, D: The Stars traded the pending unrestricted free agent to the Arizona Coyotes for a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft on June 16. Goligoski signed a five-year contract with the Coyotes six days later. … Colton Sceviour, C: He played up and down the lineup last season and had an NHL career-high 11 goals in 71 games. He signed with the Panthers as a free agent. … Kris Russell, D: The Stars acquired the shot-blocking defenseman in a trade with the Calgary Flames on Feb. 29. He had four assists in 11 regular-season games and four assists in 12 playoff games. In 23 combined regular-season and playoff games, he averaged 2.6 blocked shots per game. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Travis Moen, LW: The 34-year-old forward had two assists in 23 regular-season games and played in six of the Stars' 13 playoff games. He is an unrestricted free agent.

ON THE CUSP: Denis Gurianov, RW: The 12th pick of the 2015 draft signed with the Stars in May. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward had four goals in 47 games with Ladia Togliatti in the Kontinental Hockey League. At 19, he might need some development time in the American Hockey League, but he projects to be a top-six forward. … Julius Honka, D: The 14th pick of the 2014 draft was sixth among AHL defensemen with 44 points last season. After two solid AHL seasons, he should be ready to compete for an NHL job in training camp. … Jason Dickinson, C: The 21-year-old scored a goal in his first NHL game last season. He was fifth among AHL rookies with 22 goals in 73 games. A natural center, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, he's big enough to play on the wing if needed.

WHAT THEY STILL NEED: Better defensive depth. After their top three defensemen last season (Goligoski, Klingberg and Oduya), there was a dropoff. Stephen Johns made a nice impact late in the season and during the playoffs after he was called up from the AHL. There's also hope 22-year-old Esa Lindell grabs a roster spot; his 14 goals were third among AHL defensemen last season. A top four this season of Hamhuis, Klingberg, Oduya and Johns should be an improvement on last season, with a combination of Lindell, Patrik Nemeth and Jordie Benn filling the bottom pair. That also should help their goaltenders, who combined for a .916 save percentage at 5-on-5, 27th in the League. … The Stars also need to get more consistent offensive contributions from their bottom nine forwards. Jamie Benn and Seguin had a hand in 61.1 percent of the Stars' 265 goals last season, eighth-highest in the League.

Video: Ja. Benn nets rebound, ties game

PETE JENSEN'S FANTASY FOCUS: Three players (Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Benn) have a higher points-per-game average than Seguin (1.05) during the past two seasons combined. But as much as that production rate has carried fantasy owners, Seguin's late-season injuries have left him out of the picture for the most important weeks of the fantasy season in head-to-head formats; last season, it was the Achilles injury, and in 2014-15 he missed a month because of a late-season knee injury. Seguin is worth a top-10 pick because he plays on a line with Benn, a top-five asset. But Seguin's recovery from an Achilles injury is worth monitoring this offseason.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin

Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Spezza - Patrick Sharp

Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Ales Hemsky

Curtis McKenzie - Mattias Janmark - Brett Ritchie

Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns

Esa Lindell - Patrik Nemeth

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

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