Every year before the season starts, we take a look at the players expected to make the roster and come up with a ranking of who will impact the season the most (#1) to who will have the least impact (#25). With a short time to gear up for the season due to that pesky lockout business, we'll be consolidating these down into three parts. Yesterday, we covered players 25-16 on the impact rankings. Today we'll go through impact players 15-6, counting our way down to who will have the most impact on the team this season.
#15. Vernon Fiddler
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 8g, 13a, 21p, 60 PIMs, -13
Why he's here: Fiddler will be fighting for ice time as the third line center this season with some of the younger guys in the Stars system. He will most likely continue to be a big part of the penalty kill unit again this season, as he led Stars' forwards in shorthanded time on ice last season.
#14. Richard Bachman
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 8-5-1, 0.97 SV%, 2.77 GAA; Texas Stars (AHL): 7-6-1, 0.887 SV%, 3.13 GAA
Why he's here: Bachman showed last year the epitome of taking full advantage of an opportunity when you get it. He showed that he is a very good goaltender on the road; five of his eight wins came on the road -- and not in easy arenas either (@ LAK, @NYR, @NYI, @CHI, @VAN.) He played well enough to earn a one-way contract this season, and in a compacted season being able to come in and steal wins is going to be a big contributing factor to the Stars' success.
#13. Stephane Robidas
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 5g, 17a, 22p, 48 PIMs, -5
Why he's here: Robidas will most likely continue to be the stalwart on the penalty kill after leading the team last season in shorthanded time on ice. He is the veteran on the blueline and his guidance of the younger players will be just as important on the ice as will be off of it.
#12. Cody Eakin
2011-2012: Washington Capitals (NHL): 4g, 4a, 8p, 4 PIMs, +2; Hershey Bears (AHL): 13g, 14a, 27p, 10 PIMs, +4
Why he's here: Eakin is currently second on the Texas Stars in scoring this season. He will be called upon for some depth scoring and for his puck possession skills. He's shown enough defensive awareness at the lower levels that he could slot in on either a checking or puck possession type line while providing a scoring threat.
#11. Trevor Daley
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 4g, 21p, 25a, 42 PIMs, +3
Why he's here: Because of his fairly consistent sound positioning, expect Daley to have increased responsibility in the defensive zone this season. He will be looked upon to fill the big defensive minutes Sheldon Souray ate up last season, and will most likely take even more minutes on the penalty kill this season.
#10. Brenden Morrow
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 11g, 15a, 26p, 97 PIMs, +1
Why he's here: The captain of the Stars appears to be fully healthy and has expressed a sense of freshness and excitement that wasn't present last season. Battling through some tough neck and back injuries, Morrow had a bumpy season last year. He's had plenty of time to heal up and alter his training to fix the problems plaguing him, and a healthy Morrow can be quite effective in front of the crease for those "dirty" goals. He's expected to play on the third line to start the season, add scoring depth, and can play up as injuries necessitate.
#9. Philip Larsen
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 3g, 8a, 11p, 11 PIMs, +11; Texas Stars (AHL): 1g, 9a, 10p, 6 PIMs, Even
Why he's here: Larsen seems to have taken another step forward in his development by racking up 15 points in 27 games played with Lukko Rauma of SM-Liiga during the lockout. He saw big first pairing minutes over there and lead the club in scoring by defensemen. Will he be able to take that experience and apply it here for a breakout season?
#8. Michael Ryder
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 35g, 27a, 62p, 46 PIMs, +17
Why he's here: It is unrealistic to expect Ryder to be able to outdo his career best 35 goals from last season, but a 20+ goal season should be realistic for the winger. Consistent scoring would be key from Ryder, as he had stretches of five or more games in a row without points three different times last year -- and that last streak was at the end of the season, when the Stars were still in the thick of the playoff fight for the last seed.
#7. Alex Goligoski
2011-2012: Dallas Stars (NHL): 9g, 21a, 30p, 16 PIMs, Even
Why he's here: Goligoski is the puck moving defensemen the Stars traded James Neal for to help their transition game. With a full season in Dallas under his belt, Goligoski will be looked upon to take the next step in leading the blue line -- namely, on the power play. As a potential member of the first power play unit for Glen Gulutzan, Goligoski will need to chip in more than nine points with the man advantage if the team hopes to turn their lowly PP% numbers. Goligoski and Daley both will also be called on to provide mentoring and guidance to young defensemen Larsen, Jordie Benn and Brenden Dillon.
#6. Ray Whitney
2011-2012: Phoenix Coyotes (NHL): 24g, 53a, 77p, 28PIMs, +26
Why he's here: Whitney lead the Coyotes in points last season and power play time on ice. (He ranked 11th overall in the entire league in total PPTOI, with about one third of his total minutes spent on the man advantage.) Whitney brings consistency in scoring to the Stars top six forwards -- the last time he scored less than 50 points in a season was 2003-2004 -- something that only Loui Eriksson can probably claim over the past few seasons here. His ability to score at a high rate will be a big driver of Dallas' success on the ice this season. The other area Whitney will most impact will be in the locker room, as a role model of professionalism at the major league level for Jamie Benn and the youth that will be looked upon to become the next leaders of the Stars.
Would you change any of these rankings? Someone lower than they should be or higher than they should be? Tell us in the comments. Tomorrow, we'll count down the top five impact players. Who would you list as the most impactful player heading into this season?