We here at Defending Big D will unleash our season predictions upon you as we get closer to the actual start of the season but that doesn't mean that others are waiting. As magazine publications and season previews start to come out, we get a taste for where the media masses think the Stars will end up.
Going by their predictions, it's going to be a long season.
The Hockey News has the Stars finishing 12th in the Western Conference:
Why: It was an official changing of the guard in Dallas this summer, with mainstays Mike Modano and Marty Turco leaving via free agency for Detroit and Chicago and Jere Lehtinen still unsigned. Offense isn’t the problem in ‘Big D’ as Brad Richards seems to have found his former assist-happy self and the next wave of scorers – Loui Eriksson, James Neal, Jamie Benn – are improving and settling into a groove. The major obstacle here is the defense, where Trevor Daley and Matt Niskanen have to step up, and goaltending, where Kari Lehtonen needs to figure out a way to get through a season healthy.
A couple more after the jump.
Per Mark Stepneski,The Sports Forecasters has the Stars finishing up 13th:
In their second season on the job, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk and coach Marc Crawford face increasingly tough tasks. Veterans have been let for monetary reasons, and the system isn’t littered with high-end prospects ready to step in. The Stars’ AHL affiliate in Austin reached the Calder Cup Finals last spring, but most players on the roster were non-prospects. So, things have to get worse before they start getting better in Texas. The Stars still boast a decent core of talent, led by centers Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro, and they’re quite difficult to play against. However, questions in goal (Kari Lehtonen) and on defense linger.
It's not all bad, as Scott Burnside has some good things to say about the potential of the team.
Still, the Stars have a nice collection of emerging young forwards like Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and James Neal, which should keep them in the hunt. Adam Burish comes over from Chicago to add some grit, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of Fabian Brunnstrom -- the much-heralded Swedish free agent of a couple years back who has never quite hit his stride at the NHL level. Although the blue line remains a work in progress, the Stars have enough pieces to challenge for a playoff spot, at least they better if coach Marc Crawford wants to hang on to his job.
We all know that the Dallas Stars aren't going to be contending for the Stanley Cup this year and that making the playoffs will be seen as monumental success. Yet I also can't help but feel that the Stars are just a few pieces away, and you never know how the defense will improve. The younger players are getting more experienced and this will be their 2nd season in the new system.
It certainly seems that Kari Lehtonen is a better fit for the system that Turco was and the Stars played more confidently in front of him -- especially the defense.
The good news is that there is only one way to go. Up. The Stars are in a low spot right now and they show the signs of being able to improve and grow from last season. Will that happen? We shall see.