Dallas Stars 2013-14 Season Grades: Vernon Fiddler

Jared Wickerham

Judge Vernon Fiddler's 2014 NHL season

Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.

Regular season statistics:

GP G A Pts PIMs +/- TOI Corsi Rel OZ starts
76 6 17 23 37 3 13:06 -12.0% 23.3%

Playoff statistics:

GP G A Pts PIMs +/- TOI Corsi Rel OZ starts
6 1 2 3 24 -1 14:18 -10.6% 23.5%

Key Stat23% offensive zone starts, 46% defensive zone starts - Vernon Fiddler was deployed primarily in a checking, defensive role and on the penalty kil. Happily, it's a role he excels at, and along with Shawn Horcoff, his two-way play played a big role in steadying the occasionally exposed young defense of the Stars. Or at least trying to.

The Good: Fiddler is a quick, tough two-way forward who, while not scoring a ton, still plays a useful role with the Stars. One of those roles is as a penalty killer, a position in which he averaged nearly 2 minutes of ice time during the regular season. Going hand in hand with that is his ability in the faceoff circe, where he won 52% of his draws in the regular season, and went an impressive 61-40 in the first round series against the Ducks.

Much of Fiddler's ice time this season was seen with the pitbulls, Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt, with whom his speed and toughness fit, and he was also able to provide a calming veteran presence to those two. At least, I can only assume that their antics would have been even more without him there. Intangibes, value, etc, etc...

While Fiddler does have the ability to elevate his play for stretches, and provide a valuable boost to the depth scoring of the Stars, his real value seems to lie more in the other things he brings to the table. The image of him standing up to Zdeno Chara springs to mind, yes, standing up to him, even if it doesn't look it since Chara still loomed head and shoulders over him. And the effort he gives when the game is on the line endears him to most.

And of course, who could forget that penalty shot goal against Boston?

The Bad: Early in the season there were rumblings that Vernon Fiddler wasn't happy with his role with the Stars, and was requesting a trade. Those rumors came to nothing, and Fiddler settled in to a productive, useful role with the Stars, but the question still remains what his future is with this young version of the team. His contract was a three-year deal that expired this season. Is there room for him, or can the Stars receive a similar amount of production from one of the young guys fighting to make the squad next season?

Bottom Line: One has to assume that the Stars have interest in keeping Fiddler around, if only as a safety net while waiting for the development of some of the forward prospects coming through the system. The issue though will be the term Dallas are prepared to offer. Would Fiddler sign a one or two year deal, which is likely what his offer will be from the Stars? Or will free agency bring a more lucrative contract for him with a team looking for a veteran checking line presence?

Vote now: Rate Fiddler on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.

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