As we continue to analyze this team and this roster heading throughout the summer, I find myself taking a deeper look into just what makes a hockey team successful. Last week we took a good look at some of the best role players throughout the Stars history and how they were instrumental in the success of those teams.
For this current version of the Stars, the role players are just as if not more important. Without a true superstar on the team -- Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson are close -- this is a hockey club that is going to need each and every player to contribute up to and past their expected potential. This is a team where the fourth line will be just as important as the first line and I expect to see the minutes on this team start to even out a bit more than we've seen the past few seasons.
When you start to look at the role players for the Stars you start to realize just how much each player contributes and how important they can be to the success of the team. What stands out even more is how we as fans can sometimes take for granted the contributions of those a bit farther down the roster -- or even at the top. Even more egregious is when those players are overlooked by the media and fans across the NHL as well.
Now, Loui Eriksson was recently voted by his peers as the most underrated player in the NHL. Yet I firmly believe that we here in Dallas know exactly how good Eriksson is and can be and he's an extremely popular player as well. While he may be underrated everywhere else, I doubt any Stars fan will ever take for granted what he can do on the ice.
So who is the most underrated player for this team? How do we define such a thing?
Perhaps it is Toby Petersen, a versatile center who can provide a scoring punch from the third and fourth lines while also performing as one of the better defensive forwards on the team.
It could be Mark Fistric, who has had his troubles at times yet always seems to bring the physicality and energy this hockey team desperately needs. We could also say the same of Nicklas Grossman, one of the steadiest defensemen in the NHL who was by far the best guy on the blue line for the Stars last season and provides the anchor for this team on the back end. Just witness what happened when he was injured.
There's also a good chance this will fall upon one of the new additions as well. We've focused on Michael Ryder and Sheldon Souray (I still can't believe they're on this team) but the real gem from free agency has to be Vernon Fiddler, a faceoff machine who is versatile enough to play from the top line down to the fourth and be effective in either spot, all while providing solid leadership on the penalty kill.
What say you, Stars fans? Who do you believe doesn't get the credit he so rightly deserves?