I had planned on doing this post sometime in August.
But Mike Heika caused me to alter my plans by profiling Stephane Robidas over his blog today. One that kind of dovetails into one of the major issues I see with this team as it is currently constructed.First, Robidas seems to be a little bit of a lightning rod considering the fact he was thrust onto the top line last season with all the injuries. While he did an admirable job, I don't think he's the type of player you can depend upon as a number 1 defenseman. A point Heika seems to agree with here:
He is a strong, physical player who defends well. He is a good skater who makes a solid first pass. I see him as a Shawn Chambers type _ more than capable of taking over when needed, but probably better suited as a first alternate.
We'll see if the Stars agree this year. Their budget seems to indicate they will go with this group of defensemen. If that's the case, expect Robidas to be the most versatile and most used defenseman in the group. I still think they can win with him in that role, but they should definitely look to offer him more support.
And I don't think you need to look any further than his 5on5 ratings from the last two seasons at BehindTheNet to see why.
In the 2007-08 season, Robidas' minutes were mostly spent on the 2nd and 3rd pairings behind veterans like Mattias Norstrom, Sergei Zubov, and Phillipe Boucher. He was more likely to get paired up with the Stars' blueline rookies Matt Niskanen, Mark Fistric, and Niklas Grossman.
The results? A 0.00 Quality of Competition rating and a 2.6 Corsi rating.
Then came last year where Robi, himself, wasn't immune to the injury problems from last season missing a good chunk of the early part of the season. Still, he was able to stick in the lineup and thanks to the departures in some form or fashion of the aforementioned trip of Nostrom (retirement), Zubov (injury), and Boucher (trade), Robi was thrust onto the Stars top D pairing, his Quality of Competition rating went up to 0.05, but his Corsi rating dipped into negative territory at -0.3.
In the NBA, you'll often hear analysts suggest that a backup player's minutes be limited so as not to 'expose' him. The best example that comes to mind outside of the sport of hockey if you're a Dallas-Fort Worth sports fan would be J.J. Barea of the Mavericks. In spurts, he's effective.
But if you leave him in the lineup for too long, the increased quality of the opposition will find a weakness and exploit it. I think Robidas is comparable in that way.
In 2007-08, Robidas' TOI/60 was 15.30. Last year, it shot up to 17.13.
Now to be sure, I think the acquisition of the very solid veteran Karlis Skrastins will definitely help Robidas. He'll bring a dimension to the blue line that I think the Stars, and particuarly Robidas, were clearly lacking last season. As such, even if the Stars are forced to put Robidas on the top line, I think he'll fare better next season than he did last season.
But it'd be even better if Trevor Daley or Nicklas Grossman jumped up and grabbed the spot as the top defenseman on the club so Robidas could go back to being a solid #3 or #4 D-man.