Over the next month, Defending Big D will be counting down the most important "impact" players for the upcoming season for the Dallas Stars. Starting from the player we believe will have the smallest influence on this season to the player with the most, we'll countdown from #23 all the way to the top as we get ready for what we hope will be a very promising season.
Of all the additions the Dallas Stars have made this summer, Radek Dvorak is perhaps the most underrated. Dvorak was signed just before the end-of-day craziness that brought about the news of Michael Ryder and Sheldon Souray and while every Dallas Stars fan was attempting to determine if they should be pleased to have Studly Wonderbomb on the team, Dvorak fell a bit by the wayside.
His is just a one year contract, coming off his second stint with the Florida Panthers and a mid-season trade to the Atlanta Thrashers. He's entering his 17th NHL season at the age of 34 and over the course of his career Dvorak has been a relatively healthy hockey player -- especially considering he can be a bit physical and gritty if needed. His best season overall was way back in 2000-01 when he notched 31 goals and 67 points in a full 82 games and since then has been a fairly consistent forward who can score around 10 goals and 20 points per season.
Even at the age of 34 his best asset is his speed and he still has the ability to push the puck up the ice and put pressure on defenses. For the Dallas Stars, however, his most valuable contributions are going to be on the penalty kill.
Dvorak is an intelligent, gritty and versatile forward who has consistently been one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL. He'll never win any awards but he's exactly the player the Dallas Stars are needing as they look to move a few players up into a more offensive role and fill some holes made by some vacated players. The Stars have been abysmal on the penalty kill for a few seasons now and most of that has to do with a lack of confidence and intelligence with the puck in defensive zone. Dvorak is going to be a calming influence on this unit and there's a good chance that he'll become the de facto leader when the team goes a man down.
More importantly, Dvorak is going to help provide some much needed depth on a team that has struggled with consistent play across four lines for a few years now. Whether that was a result of Marc Crawford relying heavily on three lines and basically ignoring the fourth or the level of talent on those fourth lines or a combination of both is beside the point; his ability to be effective in basically any role asked of him is going to be the difference maker.