There's been a lot of talk recently on the Dallas Stars and how they are rebuilding. This often comes with the appearance that this team that we've followed through the ups and downs is still far away from contending. It can feel like this team is far away from hoisting the Stanley Cup any time soon but they aren't far removed from being in regular playoff contention.
When people say rebuilding I often think that there's a misconception in what that means, especially for the Dallas Stars. The Stars have built a solid foundation and have started to construct the basis of what will be a very good team sooner than some might think.
Jim Nill bringing in Tyler Seguin last summer following the drafting of Valeri Nichushkin created the Stars' first line for the future. That line, once Nichushkin has grown fully into the North American game, with Jamie Benn back at the wing, is likely to be one of the more dominant forward lines in the league.
Elsewhere other pieces are beginning to come together. Brenden Dillon has become one of the corner stones of the Stars defense for the foreseeable future and rookie Kevin Connauton has stepped in and performed well. In Cedar Park, there are more defensemen on the very brink of earning time on the blueline at the American Airlines Center.
John Klingberg impressed many people and will soon be on his way to North America. Jyrki Jokipakka is performing well in his first season in the AHL on the smaller ice. Patrick Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak haven't played as well this year as last but still appear on the brink of earning a shot at NHL time.
Curtis McKenzie has impressed during his short time so far in the AHL. Brett Ritchie has begun to hit his stride and put up some good numbers. Devin Shore has continued to be a top forward in the competitive Hockey East in the NCAA and Branden Troock finally appears to be heading towards a relatively full season of hockey.
Jack Campbell, when he was healthy early this season, seemed right on course for developing into a good NHL goaltender and played in his first NHL game this season.
Alex Chiasson might not be at a point-per-game pace anymore but he continues to perform well at the NHL level. There is potentially still more to come from him but he has settled in to become a NHL regular.
Notice a pattern here? The list of names that could be considered decent prospects for the Stars is more than we've seen in....well, it's been a while.
The future is beginning to look very promising as these young pieces begin to come together. The core Dallas is building around is beginning to form and part of it is playing together in the NHL already. Other parts are not far away from breaking into the top level of hockey.
And that's because of the work that has been done developing and drafting players during the ownerless years. They've laid the foundation for the proper rebuild of an organization both on and off the ice.
As they say, it's always darkest before the light. There is going to be a time very soon where this team has the personnel on the ice to make this franchise a contender for years. We aren't in an everlasting cycle of rebuilding. In fact the Stars are very close to being rebuilt.
What Dallas Stars fans need now is patience. Yes, the playoffs would be nice this year but there isn't a single player who could be brought in and solve the problems that this team faces now. It's not just about the now its about the future. The Stars appear to have learned the lesson that picks and prospects are the new way to build a contender.
If there is a deal that can land you that young player with top potential, like Seguin, then by all means move the assets to get it done. But the Stars won't be mortgaging the future to get a short term boost.
Things are beginning to come together. Just wait and see.