Personal preference and player use by the coaching staff has guaranteed this to be an 'Inexact Science', but with all the questions the Writing Staff's rankings have raised in me, I felt I should share my thoughts, and would love to see yours.
22- #28 Lane MacDermid- LW: Tough guy brings a dimension the team seriously needs, lack of other contributions lead to a low ranking but fairly solid spot with the team.
21- #16 Ryan Garbutt- F: Speed and determination got him this far. He needs to show some flash and finish to earn a new contract and a chance to contribute more up the line up. His grit and heart has him a place in fans' hearts and a place on my list.
20- #38 Vernon Fiddler- C: "Pesky" is a good word for him, and hopefully like the Stars' ex-catchphrase he'll be on his way out of town as well. A solid faceoff man and an eager penalty killer, Viddler will find himself a job somewhere else in the NHL next season, making way for some more gifted role players.
19- #6 Trevor Daley- D: A bit of an anomaly, Daley has made a name for himself in the league with his skating ability, along with his willingness to do what it takes to help his team win. Be that killing penalties and blocking shots while battling at the net-front with usually much larger players than himself, or by manning the point on a powerplay unit. Daley gets the job done but doesn't particularly standout at any facet of the game. He's locked in long-term and could be considered part of the solution here in Dallas, or as part of the issue. We will have to wait and see with him.
18- #27 Aaron Rome- D: I, like many Stars fans, winced at this signing at first, but when it comes to performing his role, and jumping in cold from long stays in the press box, very few can perform as admirably as Rome has. A bona fide #7 NHL defensemen is not a role that many strive to fulfill, but it's incredibly difficult to play well once you're there. Rome is physical, and plays with toughness and size, and kills penalties. That's all you can ask for from a bottom pairing defensemen. Minimal impact on the team but thriving at his role gets Rome to #18.
17- #21 Antoine Roussel- F: Rooster is fearless. There is no line he won't cross, no mountain he won't climb, or chasm he can't cross. And he'd do it just so he can get there and turn to you and say, "Told you so F*£$er!" He's a pretty good hockey player too, to boot. Faceoff proficiency, agitation, and a little dash of puck skills give you one interesting player. This season he'll be counted upon to kill penalties and provide the secondary scoring he stepped up with last season. A significant part of our bottom six, Roussel lands here.
16- #30 Dan Ellis- G: Another tough job, Dan Ellis is making a career or a solid backup goaltender. We don't want Kari playing every night for his sake, but for ours we wish he would. Here's to hoping Ellis will make those inbetweens more bearable.
15- #23 Kevin Connauton- D: Most feel that Nichushkin is our prized possession who will benefit most from the acquisition of Sergei Gonchar, but to me it's this man. Shooting defensemen are a different breed, and since the departure of Sheldon Souray, we have been missing that weapon from the back end. I expect KC to get the babysitter seat next to Robidas this season, but it's Gonchar's wisdom and experience as that style of offensive defensemen that will impact Connauton the most. The man can skate and shoot, the defense will come. Kevin's upside offensively, and potential to be a threat every night gets him this slot of my list.
14- #10 Shawn Horcoff- C: Just when I thought we had been so lucky to move on from Brendan Morrow, we decided we wanted Edmonton's version. Daggummit. Alas, team leadership is an area of need along with experience and depth down the middle. Any offense out of Horcoff is a bonus, but where we need him to step up and take the most minutes is the penalty kill. Should Horcoff and Erik Cole succeed in forming our top kill unit, this deal will be a win for the Stars. Lots of responsibility for a player who sounds like he has lots more to give, another wait and see guy.
13- #72 Erik Cole- LW: The first to get a shot with Benn and Seguin on the top line, Cole is in play to have a big offensive season. It's certainly a possibility, but not expected. Should one of the young Stars step up and lay claim to that spot, his versatility could set him on the third line next to Horcoff and another. Brash style, fleet skating and a wrist shot built for finish, he can contribute to this team in many ways. If everything falls into place this season in Dallas, he may form a formidable 3rd checking line with Horcoff and Peverley.
12- #20 Cody Eakin- C: Eakin is a skilled player, who's energy and determination has carved him a niche that fans appreciate, but his offense left something to be desired. He's still young with lots more to learn and has a shot in Dallas to slide nicely behind that top line against softer matchups. Should he produce at a clip expected of a 2C, while maintaining that never ceasing engine and attitude, we may have a diamond in the rough on our hands. He should get a chance in all situations this season with ample opportunity. Should he falter though, the Stars would be hard-pressed to fill that role, leading to his ranking at 12.
11- #3 Stephane Robidas- D: A warrior who's battle scars are stockpiling, his dependability is unquestioned and determination is second to none. His skills have never screamed out elite, but his heart has. With emerging youth and another old dog (Gonchar) around to share the load, his minutes should be lessened but his worth remains the same. Expect one of Connauton or Oleksiak to ride shotgun next to him once the year gets going, a chance again to impart his vast knowledge and show them the ropes. Killing penalties and an aptitude for net clearing, along with a sure hand to guide our young bucks has Robi here on my list.
10- #12 Alex Chiasson- RW: A big body with a nose for the net and some serious playmaking ability is a combination that scouts drool over. Chiasson doesn't have the footspeed of other notable big-bodied superstars like Rick Nash or Eric Staal, and that may be the only thing keeping him from being a dominant type of prospect. He has a lot to like about him and even a knack at faceoffs for a right handed shot is always a plus. He's not going to be a centre but he will still produce. Put all these skills along side other skilled offensive players and he is going to be a factor. Chiasson is 10.
9- #17 Rich Peverley- F: Peverley will be the ultimate swing man for the team this season. He has loads of versatility and an extremely well rounded game. He will provide depth scoring wherever he plays in the lineup, but where he plays isnt a certainty as of yet. He's an excellent faceoff man and a solid defender, but hopes to bring some added offensive punch. Should the kids step up and claim scoring roles, he slides perfectly next to Horcoff and Cole on a shut down unit. Should they need his offense, there's no telling what may happen should he end up next to Benn and Seguin. His versatility and potential to have a large impact get him this far up my list.
8- #55 Sergei Gonchar- D: A shooting defender with loads of experience should help take a load off of Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas. This will undoubtedly help spread the minutes, as finally the Stars now have 4 top-4 defensemen, even if none of them are #1s as we speak. That's going to ease the minutes on the rest of the corps. If the Stara get reliable defending with a punch added to the powerplay and even as 5v5 offense from the back end, Sergei will have done his bit. Now add to that what his veteran leadership and guidance will contribute to young Stars Valeri Nichushkin and Kevin Connauton, and even Jamie Oleksiak, and Gonchar's impact on our squad is tremendous.
7- #43 Valeri Nichushkin- F: The impact Valeri will have on this season lies somewhere between Calder Trophy winner and the Moscow Dynamo. That uncertainty will undoubted have a tremendous impact, be it good or bad, on this season. He has all the skill in the world and a body that can do some damage, but how it ends up playing out is anyone's guess. This kid is going to be a star, were just glad it's with us. Thank you, Mike Gillis.
6- #4 Brenden Dillon- D: It's hard to put a number on Dillon, because we just don't know how good he can be. He has an incredibly well rounded game for such a young player. A tower of strength, his calling card is a smooth skating defensive defender, but there have been signs that there's more to give on the offensive side. He is dependable, an emerging leader, and a shining light to lead this new era of Stars hockey. Playing well with both Robidas and Goligoski last season, Dillon may be best suited to ride alongside one of them once more, but then again all he's done is surprise us. Look to him to be the rock we build our D around for years to come.
5- #13 Ray Whitney- LW: There aren't many guys on this roster who's contributions this season will be more impactful. Wiz brings leadership and guidance like many of the other veterans, but where he contributes the most to our team will be on the scoreboard. We need an equal or better performance out of Whitney than last season, because those numbers will be near impossible to replicate with the rest of the supporting cast. Benn and Seguin will need a secondary punch to get away from ALL the worst matchups, and they can't be the only ones to score day in-day out. With almost assuredly inexperienced and unproven offensive linemates, Whitney's consistency is a key factor for the season.
4- #33 Alex Goligoski- D: This one may cause some questions, but this is the horse we've chosen to build our defense around. Should he turn out not be the PPQB we needed, we may need to shake things up again. He doesn't need to do everything, he's not a number 1, but if he can't lead our powerplay back to being a real threat again, he doesn't bring much value. If Goose doesn't step up and show that he's our guy, were virtually starting again from scratch on the back end. Alex Goligoski has a HUGE impact on how this team does this season.
3- #32 Kari Lehtonen- G: The backbone of our team, we go as he goes. We have the offense to cover some mistakes, but that's not a formula for success. He's one of the best in the business, even if it's only us who know it. A big season from the Big Finn and we'll be looking good come April.
2- #91 Tyler Seguin- C: The only player in our organization within spitting distance of the top as we stand today, Seguin is an offensive dynamo, and only his adjustment back to the middle and a dash of inconsistency that can easily be attributed to age, are what hold him back from #1.
1- #14 Jamie Benn- LW: Your best player should always have the biggest impact. His combination of size, speed.
, and puck skills, set aside what he means to the team, have him at the top of my list without a doubt.
I personally rank players and prospects the same way, with weight of importance based on a few factors:
1) Elite talent, be it offensive or defensive.
2) Distance from immediate impact on the NHL team.
3) Rising and/or falling stock.
4) Lastly, I take into account the amount the team would suffer should the player underperform, or succumb to injury.
So, in ranking the players, you will often see groupings of similar players, then clear divides to another group with distinct similarities. These divides are where you will notice the different categories of weight of importance making significant impact. For example, of our prospects, I rank Jokipakka and Klingberg higher than Button and Gaunce due to elite skill, but their distance from impact on the NHL team has them behind Nemeth, even if their elite skill level may be higher.
In my Impact Player Rankings, a player like Erik Cole may have equal offensive abilities to Alex Chiasson, but his stock is falling and Chiasson's is rising. While they could each fill the others void properly should injury strike, the organization would suffer more from the loss of Chiasson then that of Cole.
Tell me what you think, and please feel free to suppose your own rankings, or changes you'd make to mine.