Attempting to determine the outcome of this season was much tougher than in years past, with so many unknowns and variables affecting potential outcomes in an already extremely-shortened season. The Dallas Stars will be playing exclusively against a very tough Western Conference and against a historically-tough Pacific Division, with the Stars in years past able to pad the points in the standings by excelling against Eastern Conference foes.
Which is why, despite the headline moves by the Stars last summer (trade for Derek Roy, trade for Cody Eakin, sign Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr) a good portion of the DBD staff are not picking the Dallas Stars to make the playoffs for what would be the fifth season in a row. Some, however, have some very high hopes for this roster.
Agree, disagree? Let us know your predictions in the comments and be sure to vote in the poll.
Huw Wales: 12th
Though the Dallas Stars have upgraded with talent like Jagr and Roy any prolonged losing streak or inconsistency can doom a team. Considering the Stars regular seasons the last couple of years I think its almost inevitable that they are going to hit another bump in the road. In a full length season I think they only just miss the playoffs because the team has enough talent to nearly correct their inconsistency worries but in a short season it will put them right down in the Western Conference. With a condensed schedule a fast start is important and starting the season without Benn will hurt. The Stars don't have the experienced depth at D to cope with any injuries and any injuries will make the Stars more likely to lose games than win them. The Stars need some good luck to get into the playoffs this season and the Stars haven't been having good luck recently. It doesn't help that the Stars are in the Pacific, one of the toughest divisions in the league. I might just be feeling pessimistic but I hope they prove me wrong.
Taylor Baird: 7th
Kari Lehtonen will be stellar this season and the Stars will edge into the playoffs. I think there's too much parity amongst the Central teams (outside of maybe Columbus who I'm convinced will still most likely be 5th in that division) and they're going to spend the shortened season yanking points away from one another. Vancouver will dominate the Northwest again, and maybe one other team from their division makes the playoffs. I think three pacific division teams make the playoffs, and I think the Stars will be third in their division and grab one of the last playoff spots. I might be the eternal optimist on the staff this year again...
Cole Jones: 6th Place
The Dallas Stars will overcome a questionable defensive corps with stellar goaltending and a dynamic top six, and finally return to the post season in 2013. This summer, Dallas made quite a few moves that were seen as short term stop-gaps while the kids in Austin continue to develop, but that's no reason to ignore how much this team, who missed the last two post-seasons by the slimmest of margins, has improved. Assuming Jamie Benn plays the vast majority of the season, the partnership of Benn and Jaromir Jagr should further propel Jamie into the NHL's upper echelon of forwards, much like Claude Giroux last year in Philadelphia. Look for Kari Lehtonen to once again be this team's MVP, while a now more properly aligned bottom six add balance to a perpetually top-heavy lineup. The development of Brendan Dillon will be an important storyline that can make or break the season. If the rookie defender can step in and play important minutes on a blueline that is desperate for a stud, the Stars could go further than anyone expects this year.
Brandon Bibb: 8th place
The additions of Whitney, Jagr, and a compressed schedule work to the Stars advantage as the goal scoring the Stars have desperately missed in seasons' past gives them enough oomph to break the four year playoff drought. It'll still take time for everyone to gel. But I don't see a late season pseudo collapse like we've seen in season's past. All this is dependent, of course, on Jamie Benn not missing any significant time thanks to his holdout.
Ismael Hammoudi: 8th place
Kari Lehtonen will once again be the backbone of this team. The D won't be stellar but it'll be solid enough for the forwards to pot enough goals most nights. The top six is going to be extremely good, Benn will continue to develop and Derek Roy will be a great 2nd line center. The bottom six will be solid and will be able to chip in goals a fair amount of the time but won't really surprise anyone with their offense. They will take care of a lot of top competition and allow the top six to have some minute against weaker lines every night. While they could be a really good team, the Stars will make the playoffs as the 7th seed because of an extremely tough western conference.
Trevor Sudbury: 5th place
In my mind, this team is a real wild card. They improved the offense during the summer, but the defense is a complete unknown with 2-3 rookies on it this year. If they stay relatively healthy, I think they can go far.
I think every other team in the Pacific (except the Kings) got weaker during the off-season. Other teams like Chicago and Nashville are on the downward trend as well. Because of that, and the shortened season, I think the Stars can finish anywhere between 12th and 5th. Being ever the optimist, I choose the latter.
Josh Lile: 10th place
The defensive game is going to be even shakier this year than last. It will take a Herculean offensive effort to push them into the top eight.
Erin Bolen: 8th place.
Kari Lehtonen is usually lights out for the first three quarters of the season before succumbing to fatigue down the stretch, so a shortened season may play right into his wheelhouse. The power play should improve, but the defense is young and untested. Of course, some of the playoff teams from last year face huge question marks, such as the loss of Ryan Suter in Nashville and goaltending as a whole in Chicago. The difference between 6-10 may be tiny, and Lehtonen might just steal enough games in a short season to have the Stars on the right end of that.
Brad Gardner: 10th place.
Kings, Blues, Canucks, Sharks, Red Wings, Wild, Predators, Blackhawks, Coyotes. Those are the teams, based on past performances and rosters, that we logically assume are starting in a more advantageous position heading into the season than Dallas. To say nothing of the Avs, the Flames and the Ducks, who compete for a spot every year, the Stars must be better than at least two of those teams.
Injuries will play a big role this season in deciding who gets in, as well as losing after regulation, which the Stars did not do last year. Predicting who's going to falter is tough, because it could just as easily be Dallas. With huge question marks on defense and the health and chemistry of the new veterans, I'll predict that while this will be a fun and important developmental year, it will not end in post-season hockey. 10th in the West.
Brandon Worley: 9th place
I'm going to keep this brief. I think the Predators and Coyotes will struggle this season but I question whether the Stars have the ability to leapfrog them in the West, especially when you consider the Wild should be pushing for the postseason as well. The deciding factor this season will be the defense and while Lehtonen has shown the ability to carry this team when needed, I think potentially have two or three rookies getting significant playing time this season on the blue line is going to be great for the future, but not so great for this season.