Welcome to the Stars Social Mailbag webpage. Throughout the year, we’ll be hosting several mailbags where we answer the questions that you, the fans, ask. We only have the opportunity to answer so many questions in our video segment, but with a large number of great questions from the audience, we still have plenty more to cover. That is what you will find on this page. This is where we answer some of the best ones that didn’t make the video.
Don’t forget that you can participate in our Social Mailbags by tweeting @DallasStars and @JoshBogorad and using the hashtag #StarsSocialMailbag, or by submitting them to the Stars through Facebook or Instagram. We look forward to answering yours soon.
Now, let’s get to your questions:
Joshua Hagen @Phl4wed (Twitter)
What defensive moves, if any, do you see prior to trade deadline? How much will our record factor?
If the Stars make any moves this season, there will be a lot of factors. The record is certainly one. But even bigger factors will likely be the health and performance of the guys they currently have. No one knows for sure the outcome of either of those variables. Based on what Jim Nill has said, if a spot opens up for any reason, his first move would be to look within the system. There are a number of different AHL players that will compete to make the NHL roster in training camp. Those that don’t will likely be the ones called upon if there is a need down the road. However, Nill also has said that he’s always looking to improve his roster. And you can bet if an opportunity outside of the organization presents itself, he’ll be all ears. With that in mind, the most commonly moved players around the deadline are soon-to-be, unrestricted free-agents playing for teams that will likely miss the playoffs. Here’s a list of NHL defensemen currently slated to become UFAs next summer.
There are sure to be some guys from that list on the move in March. However, whether or not the Stars think one of them is the right fit in Dallas will be determined by what happens between now and then.
Are there forward spots up for grabs for guys down in Cedar Park to earn?
The Stars currently have 13 forwards under NHL contract for the upcoming season. Teams only dress 12 forwards per game, so assuming everyone is healthy, that’s a good question. Of the 13 under contract, a handful of those guys are pretty much stapled into their roles. (I’m sure you can guess who they are.) As far as everyone else goes, Nill is on record saying that if an AHL player really impresses during camp or a call-up stint, the team will find a place for them. Dallas has a lot of prospects who they believe are NHL-ready right now, and that includes those at the forward position. While the numbers suggest there may not be spots, if two-way guys prove their ability and worth in the present, they will create them. The Stars are among the deepest teams at forward in the NHL. That’s a good problem to have, and Dallas is planning to ice their best team possible. The number of forwards who play each game will not change. But which 12 play certainly can. In short, yes, there are spots up for grabs. Even if they’re not vacant ones.
Dallas Sports Fan @DallasSportsFan (Twitter)
What are thechances this season that we see Benn & Seguin both have over 85 points, and Spezza with at least 70?
While it’s possible, I don’t think anyone should <i>expect</i> those numbers. To put it into perspective, keep in mind that last season only one NHL team had three players with over 70 points, period. It was San Jose, and none of them reached 80. The last time two teammates both had more than 85 points was 2010-2011 when Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos had 99 and 91, respectively. No one else on the team reached 55. No team has accomplished the numbers you proposed in the last four years. Think about the number of powerful offenses – and trios – that have existed in that time and allow that to sink in. Last year the Stars had the 10th ranked offense in the NHL. While I expect that to improve this season, two 85-point scorers and another at 70+ is rarified air in today’s NHL. Either way, the Stars have one of the best duos in the league and even on a different line, Spezza makes it quite a trio. It should be a ton of fun watching them try to prove me wrong all season.
Christi Onionstrings @SteampunkMuppet (Twitter)
Would you like to hear @tweetgrubes tell a joke about a moth?
I’d like to hear Grubes tell a joke about anything. I’ll leave the light on for him.
Kevin McKenna @Skinna66 (Twitter)
Realistically, where do you see the Stars finishing this year?
The Stars undeniably got better in the offseason. The problem for them is that most of the Western Conference did as well. I think you’re going to see a very similar trend to last year where the West beats up on the East and points immediately become precious from the start of the season. I see Dallas fighting through the pack to emerge with one of the three guaranteed Central Division playoff spots, but not enough to chase down a division title. I have them playing in the #2 vs. #3 opening-round playoff series.
Will I see these guys back in playoffs?
See above. If I’m right, you will.
N @JBennTSeguin (Twitter)
People feel like Colton Sceviour isn't getting the Top-6 opportunity he deserves. Will he this season?
Part of the reason people might feel that way is because there was no true second line last year. This year that won’t be the case. And there does appear to be at least one spot in that Top-6 up for grabs. It’s universally agreed that whatever the combinations wind up being, Jamie Benn, Tyle Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Ales Hemsky are all locked into the top two lines. Despite his game of Chutes and Ladders up and down the roster last year, most would toss Valeri Nichushkin into that group as well. But that sixth spot is highly up for grabs. It could go to a veteran like Erik Cole, or perhaps a youngster from Cedar Park. Or it might be open for Sceviour if he can seize the moment in training camp and the early going of this season, just as he did last year. If he continues his scoring touch from a year ago, there’s a very strong chance he could get some top-6 looks sooner or later this season.
Gibbs @SpaceLSD (Twitter)
Can you guys please bring home the cup this year?
Well…since you said please… I’ll let the guys know you’ve requested it.
Garrett Sambrook @garrettsambrook (Twitter)
Should we expect a high scoring year from Nichushkin?
After his first season in North America, his first season under Lindy Ruff, his first season of 82 games, and no subplot of the Olympics this time around, I do expect increased numbers in his sophomore campaign. I also believe that a full season of playing alongside either Seguin or Spezza won’t hurt either. (Remember it took a while before he was moved up to the top line last year, and wasn’t a constant there once he arrived.) He’s still young and he’s still improving and learning. I wouldn’t vault him among the team’s leading scorers just yet, but I think 20 goals and 50 points are attainable bars for Val.
Drew Ayars (Facebook)
No question. Just hurry up and start this dang season alreadyyyyy!!!!!!
You got it! Camp opens on Friday. See you there.
That does it for this edition of Stars Social Mailbag. Thanks again to everyone who participated. See you next time.
Josh Bogorad is the Pre-Game, Post-Game, and Intermission host for Stars television broadcasts. He can be seen 30 minutes before face-off on ‘Stars Live’ and immediately after games all season long on Fox Sports Southwest. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshBogorad.