We continue our player profile series here at Defending Big D, in which we look ahead at each player's expectations for the upcoming season. It's up to you, the reader, to give us the numbers you expect each player to produce next season. We'll start at the bottom of the roster and work our way to the top, taking a look today at Toby Petersen.
Playing just eight regular season games for the Stars before last season, Toby Petersen emerged as a very important role player in 2008-09. Starting off as the fourth line center, Petersen moved up to anchor the third line on occasion later in the season after injuries to Brenden Morrow, Brad Richards and Jere Lehtinen. With a good combination of speed, tenacity and defensive acumen Petersen proved to be a valuable asset for the Stars on the third and fourth lines.
We look at Petersen's role on the Stars, both past and future, after the jump.
While his numbers were not exactly earth shattering, Petersen did have some very solid peripheral statistics. He was in the top 5 in GAON/60 (goals allowed while on ice per 60 minutes) and in the top 10 on the team in overall +/-. There is a caveat to these numbers: Petersen did not consistently play against the top players on the opposition (last on the Stars in Quality of Competion faced). Under Dave Tippett, the third and fourth lines were just as important to the team during even strength action as the top two and Petersen helped provide a energetic spark on whichever line he played on.
Petersen is a consistent, hard working player who has the potential to be one of the key leaders in the locker room. He was the captain for the Iowa Stars and before his season ending injury last season, had yet to play in less than 70 games in a season. Called up to the Stars just before the playoffs in 2008, Petersen was called upon to play important minutes for the team, and scored some big goals for the Stars in series against Detroit. In fact, Petersen is one of the best players on the Stars with the ability to counter the skill level of the Red Wings and has been one of the factors that has helped Dallas overcome their troubles with Detroit.
Petersen has the tools to be a top six forward (he's consistently put up big numbers in the AHL) but currently plays on a team that is strong at the top. With Mike Ribeiro, Richards and Mike Modano holding down the top three center spots, its unlikely that Petersen finds a way to move on the depth chart at center. Like Brian Sutherby, Petersen does have the ability to be a versatile forward who can play at either wing position. His strengths lie at center however, and he is skilled at faceoffs (one of the top percentage winners on the team last season). With Marc Crawford now running the team, and historically only using three rotating lines with a fourth line used sparingly, Petersen has the chance to prove he deserves to have a bigger role on the team or see his minutes reduced. Like every other player on the team, he will be starting anew with the coaching staff.
Mike Heika compares Petersen to Stu Barnes, and it's a easy comparison to make. Petersen has had a very important role for the Stars hand has excelled as one of the key players for Dallas in the defensive zone. Despite his time on the third and fourth lines, Petersen has always made big plays and the right time, much like Barnes did during his career. The question becomes just how much time on the ice Petersen sees under new coach Marc Crawford.
You tell us: what are your expectations for Toby Petersen this season? Goals? Points? Will he see more time on the top three lines?