The Stars return four of their top five scorers from a year ago and the forwards will continue to be led by the usual suspects. Mike Ribeiro led the team in scoring in his first season in Dallas with 59 points, Jussi Jokinen continues to develop into a special player after a 48-point campaign, Jere Lehtinen has been a cornerstone for the franchise for years and even after losing a quarter of last year to injury, Mike Modano still finished with 43 points in 59 games.
Big bodies like Todd Fedoruk and Brad Winchester were brought in to combat the Anaheim style of play that’s taken the Western Conference by storm, Stu Barnes is another trusted leader in the room, and Joel Lundqvist continues to prove that his twin brother Henrik, the goalie, isn’t the only hockey player in the family.
But there are a lot of aging stars up front in Dallas and sooner or later, there figures to be a shift toward a youth movement. Perhaps that opens the door for many prospects to challenge for roster places in training camp.
Jere Lehtinen won the Selke as the NHL’s top defensive forward three times, but in the last two years, he’s found an impressive scoring touch on the power play. Lehtinen led all Dallas forwards with 11 power-play goals last season, a year after potting 14 with the extra-man advantage. Modano, even playing a partial season, still scored nine on the power play, while Morrow, the captain, potted eight extra-man goals last year. Ribeiro, Jokinen and Antti Meittinen, who scored six on the power play, should also get extended time on the unit.
Up and Coming
Loui Eriksson -- A 22-year-old who can play either wing was taken by the Stars in the second round (No. 33 overall) in 2003. Projected to be a top-six forward, he averaged over 13 minutes in 59 games (19 points) with the Stars last year and should continue to develop into one of their prized young guys up front.
Perttu Lindgren -- A third-rounder in 2005, the 20-year-old has shown a steadiness in the defensive zone. Projects as a top-line center, but will likely need some time in the minors as he adjusts to the North American ice dimensions after playing exclusively in Finland.
James Neal -- Another versatile forward capabl e of playing on the wing or in the middle, he was drafted by the Stars in the second round in 2005. The 20-year-old scored 65 points in 45 games with Plymouth of the Ontario League last year and could be ready for the jump to pro hockey this fall.
Mike Modano -- Nobody will ever question Modano’s standing as a hockey icon in Dallas, but the star center was hampered by a knee injury that cost him 23 games last season. Modano is going into his 18th NHL season and his health will be more and more of a concern as he gets older. He goes into this season at 37and he’s not getting any younger, which should be a concern for the team he’s been the face of for the better part of the last two decades. He’s going to come out strong as he looks to set a new NHL career scoring record for an American player, and if Modano can stay hot, the Stars will be an even more fearsome foe on the schedule.