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Get to know your Stars: Meet the 2021-22 opening night roster

From captain Jamie Benn to newcomers Jani Hakanpaa and Braden Holtby, here are the players that'll lead the Stars into the new season

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara / Digital Manager

In advance of Thursday's regular season opener against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, get to know the forwards, defensemen and goaltenders that make up Dallas' 2021-22 opening night roster.

 

Jamie Benn, LW

No. 14

Age: 32

Height/weight: 6-2, 210 pounds

Drafted: Fifth round (129th overall) in 2007

2020-21 stats: 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists), plus-13 rating in 52 games

Dallas' longtime captain flourished with a move to center last season, but with the depth the Stars have up front, Benn could see time on the wing. Regardless of where he slots, expect him to be among the team leaders in points this season.

 

Blake Comeau, LW*

No. 15

Age: 35

Height/weight: 6-1, 200 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2018

2020-21 stats: 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 51 games

Comeau ranked second among Stars forwards last season in shorthanded time on ice (only Radek Faksa had more), so expect to see him as a fixture on the PK in 2021-22. Unfortunately, Comeau was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury retroactive to Oct. 7.

 

Radek Faksa, C

No. 12

Age: 27

Height/weight: 6-3, 220 pounds

Drafted: First round (13th overall) in 2012

2020-21 stats: 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 55 games

A wrist injury that lingered all last season is a thing of the past for the Stars' best defensive forward. An ace in the faceoff dot, Faksa won 55.8% of draws last season. His career high in goals is 17 in 81 games during the 2017-18 campaign. Will he reach or surpass that total this season?

 

Luke Glendening, C

No. 11

Age: 32

Height/weight: 5-11, 190 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2021

2020-21 stats (with Detroit): 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and a plus-3 rating in 54 games

The 32-year-old admits he won't be an offensive force, but that's not why the Stars signed him to a two-year deal in the offseason. He ranked second in the NHL and led Detroit with a career-high 60.9% faceoff win percentage, going 523-for-859 last season. Look for him to take key defensive-zone draws and be a regular on the PK.

 

Denis Gurianov, RW

No. 34

Age: 24

Height/weight: 6-3, 195 pounds

Drafted: First round (12th overall) in 2015

2020-21 stats: 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 55 games

The polarizing winger co-led the Stars in goals (three) and points (six) during the preseason, but will that translate to games that count? Gurianov potted 20 goals during the 2019-20 regular season and added nine more in the playoffs that year, but he struggled with consistency last season. He's still just 24, so we'll see if he can be a difference maker on a nightly basis this season.

 

Jani Hakanpaa, D*

No. 2

Age: 29

Height/weight: 6-6, 220 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2021

2020-21 stats (with Anaheim and Carolina): Four points (two goals, two assists) and a plus-4 rating in 57 games

A broken pinky finger suffered during the preseason opener won't sideline the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Finn for long. At 29, consider him a late bloomer, having only made his NHL debut at the tail end of the 2019-20 season. He made his debut that year with the Ducks and was traded at the deadline last season to the Hurricanes. He'll clear the crease, eliminate opponents along the boards and do everything you'd expect a large defenseman to do.

 

Joel Hanley, D

No. 44

Age: 30

Height/weight: 5-11, 190 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2018

2020-21 stats: Eight points (all assists) and a plus-6 rating in 35 games

The veteran blueliner gives the Stars depth on D and can jump in and out of the lineup. He appeared in 35 games last season - a new career high.

 

Miro Heiskanen, D

No. 4

Age: 22

Height/weight: 6-1, 190 pounds

Drafted: First round (third overall) in 2017

2020-21 stats: 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 55 games

Armed with a fresh, new eight-year contract, the sky is really the limit for the 22-year-old defenseman. Heiskanen start the season alongside Esa Lindell, so don't be surprised to see him become more involved offensively. He's everything you want in a modern-day defenseman and is a treat to watch when he joins the rush.

 

Roope Hintz, C

No. 24

Age: 24

Height/weight: 6-3, 210 pounds

Drafted: Second round (49th overall) in 2015

2020-21 stats: 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) and a plus-13 rating in 41 games

A healthy Hintz is a dangerous Hintz. He posted career numbers last season despite being hampered by a naggin groin injury. Now, fully healthy, there's no doubt he can surpass his career-best 19-goal campaign from the 2019-20 season. Can he reach 25 or 30?

 

Braden Holtby, G

No. 70

Age: 32

Height/weight: 6-1, 215 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2021

2020-21 stats (with Vancouver): 7-11-3 record with a 3.67 goals-against average and .889 save percentage in 21 appearances

Holtby appears to have regained his form with a strong preseason showing. He doesn't need to reach Vezina level again. With a better team in front of him, especially on defense, the former Stanley Cup champion could solidify himself as the club's No. 1 netminder.

 

Tanner Kero, C

No. 64

Age: 29

Height/weight: 6-0, 185 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2019

2020-21 stats: 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 39 games

The 29-year-old center gives the Stars an option on the fourth line. As the team's extra forward, he'll likely rotate in and out of the lineup.

 

Anton Khudobin, G

No. 35

Age: 35

Height/weight: 5-11, 195 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2018

2020-21 stats: 12-11-7 record with a 2.54 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and three shutouts in 32 appearances

Though his record last season wasn't overly impressive, Khudobin was a big reason why the Stars went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Having him and Holtby could be a luxury for the Stars, who play eight of the first 11 games this season on the road.

 

Joel Kiviranta, LW

No. 25

Age: 25

Height/weight: 5-11, 180 pounds

Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in May 2019

2020-21 stats: 11 points (six goals, five assists) and a plus-3 rating in 26 games

Blessed with the greatest nickname on the team, Kiviranta might be a guy you see up and down the lineup. His previous career high in games played is only 26, so we'll see how he fares over a full 82-game season. Double digits in goals will be a nice plus for the Stars.

 

John Klingberg, D

No. 3

Age: 29

Height/weight: 6-3, 190 pounds

Drafted: Fifth round (131st overall) in 2010

2020-21 stats: 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists) in 53 games

The dynamic right-shot defenseman played exclusively with Ryan Suter throughout training camp and preseason. Klingberg's offensive abilities combined with Suter's defensive awareness could make for a terrific top pair. Having him, Suter, Heiskanen and Esa Lindell in the top-four is a tremendous luxury.

 

Esa Lindell, D

No. 23

Age: 27

Height/weight: 6-3, 220 pounds

Drafted: Third round (74th overall) in 2012

2020-21 stats: 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and a plus-11 rating in 56 games

Back in the day, being labeled as a "defensive defenseman" often meant a player was lacking in other categories, like skating, for example. Lindell doesn't have that deficiency. Instead, it's his safe, reliable presence that could allow Heiskanen to dominate. Think of him as a safety blanket when Heiskanen joins the attack. He'll chip in a handful of goals, but it's his defensive game that shines brightest.

 

Joe Pavelski, C

No. 16

Age: 37

Height/weight: 5-11, 195 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2019

2020-21 stats: 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists) and a plus-22 rating in 56 games

Even at 37, Pavelski isn't showing any signs of slowing down. His line with Hintz and Jason Robertson was the team's best last season, and once Robertson returns from injury, there's no doubt that trio will produce. One thing that doesn't show up on the scoresheet is leadership. Pavelski has tons of it.

 

Jacob Peterson, C

No: 40

Age: 22

Height/weight: 6-1, 180 pounds

Drafted: Fifth round (132nd overall) in 2017

2020-21 stats (with Färjestad BK in SHL): 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) and a plus-17 rating in 46 games

Unknown to many a Stars fan, Peterson had a terrific showing in development camp, the rookie tournament in Traverse City, main camp and preseason. He's here because he earned his spot. Not once did the 22-year-old look overwhelmed in preseason. Wouldn't it be something if he makes his debut in the season opener at Madison Square Garden?

 

Alexander Radulov, RW

No. 47

Age: 35

Height/weight: 6-1, 200 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2017

2020-21 stats: 12 points (four goals, eight assists) and a plus-9 rating in 11 games

There's no question the Stars are a better team with Radulov in the lineup. He adds a scoring touch in and around the net and rounds out the top-six nicely alongside linemate Tyler Seguin. His goal celebrations were sorely missed for most of last season.

 

Michael Raffl, LW

No. 18

Age: 32

Height/weight: 6-1, 205 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2021

2020-21 stats (with Philadelphia and Washington): 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 44 games

Raffl could be the Swiss Army Knife of the Stars this season. You might see him in the top-six or maybe in a fourth-line role. It could change on a nightly basis. Regardless, the 32-year-old forward brings experience, smarts and versatility.

 

Jason Robertson, LW

No. 21

Age: 22

Height/weight: 6-3, 200 pounds

Drafted: Second round (39th overall) in 2017

2020-21 stats: 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) and a plus-13 rating in 51 games

Robertson had a breakout rookie campaign last season, finishing as a runner-up for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. But he's not an unknown anymore, and he'll likely face tougher matchups throughout the season. He had a strong preseason but suffered an upper-body injury before it was done. His chemistry with Hintz and Pavelski is undeniable.

 
Tyler Seguin, C

No. 91

Age: 29

Height/weight: 6-1, 200 pounds

Acquired: Traded to Dallas from Boston in July 2013

2020-21 stats: Two points (both goals) in three games

Rejuvenated and motivated, it isn't unreasonable to think Seguin can reach 25 goals and 70 points if he can stay healthy. He's played in the league for what seems like forever, but he's still just 29. It was evident how much his presence was missed last season.

 

Andrej Sekera, D

No. 5

Age: 35

Height/weight: 6-0, 200 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2019

2020-21 stats: Five points (three goals, two assists) and a plus-12 rating in 46 games

A veteran presence on the blueline that can provide stability on the third pair at even strength and reliability on the penalty kill. Nothing fancy with guys like Sekera. Instead, it's the blocked shots, sticks in lanes and work along the boards and in the crease that make the difference.

 

Ryan Suter, D

Age: 36

Height/weight: 6-1, 200 pounds

Acquired: Signed as a free agent in July 2021

One of the reasons why Suter is still playing at an elite level at age 36 is his intelligence. No wasted movement or unnecessary plays. He won't go out of his way to eliminate a player. But when he gets the puck, he's not messing around with it. His vision allows him to make quick outlet passes that get the Stars out of the d-zone. He also doesn't miss many games, having appeared in 1,198 regular-season contests in his career. Suter still ironing out the wrinkles with Klingberg, but that's to be expected with a new pairing.

*Player on injured reserve

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Kyle Shohara is the Digital Manager for DallasStars.com and writes about the Stars/NHL. Follow him on Twitter @kyleshohara.

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