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.
When Nicklas Grossman became a regular in the Dallas Stars lineup it was without much fanfare. Not surprisingly, he has continued in much the same way. He never dazzles on the scoresheet, although he does have a pretty heavy shot from the blueline that, when he actually uses it, could do some damage. He simply spends every game playing solid defense, against some of the top lines in the league, and does it consistently night in and night out.
There is never a question about what you will see from Grossman on any given night. You will see the same steady, stay at home defense night in and night out. It's a consistency that has not been present on the blueline very much outside of the Stephane Robidas - Nicklas Grossman pairing. So, what impact will Grossman have on this season with the "hard to play against" mentality that is the mantra for the team? Foremost, the Stars will expect the same consistent play from Grossman. He will be asked to play the same solid shutdown defense that we are used to seeing out of the big Swede.
With additions of defensemen like Alex Goligoski at the trade deadline last season and Sheldon Souray this offseason, combined with Robidas and Trevor Daley, the puck moving defensemen corner of the market is fairly crowded on the Stars blue line. Grossman will be expected to be the anchor for the stay at home defensemen on the team -- the Grossman, Mark Fistric, Adam Pardy set. His play will be the blueprint for these guys to help complement the puck movers.
The one aspect of Grossman's game that will be expected to be amped up this season will be his physicality. Now, this does not mean Stars fans should be looking to see Grossman come out swinging -- that is not what is meant by increased physicality. The big Swede needs to realize that he *is* big -- and that his size can be used to his advantage. More finished checks and more bruising hits on opposing teams would be well suited for Grossman's size and would help take his game to the other level that he has the potential for.