As we slow down a bit for the Holiday weekend ahead of us (not to worry, we'll still be here for every game, pre and post) we take time to reflect on the year gone by, and all of the things we have to be thankful for. As Stars fans, these things may not be particularly clear on the surface, nor terribly abundant in nature, but they are there.
I mused, for example, last night at the AAC that although Mike Modano seems to have his good days and his bad, watching his jersey flap behind him as he cruises through the neutral zone is a pleasure that will soon be gone. I am thankful for every game he suits up. We watched the emergence of Jamie Benn this year, and James Neal has continued to grow his game to the delight of us all, and the Texas Rangers might actually get sold, which can only be a good thing.
Let us not forget that 2009 saw the birth of Defending Big D.com. We''ve had a real blast covering this team and starting a community we feel will continue to blossom in 2010.
All of these warm feelings and reflections aside, let's face it: This is a time of year where people are making lists (and some are checking them twice.) And like the greedy little boys we once were, we have a list of our own.
So we present to you the Defending Big D.com Stars wishlist: A list of things each of us here would like to see the Hockey Gods stuff down the Stars metaphorical chimney...
After the jump, Brandon, Brandon, Art and Brad give their biggest Stars holiday wishes...
My Christmas wish for the Dallas Stars is simple and straight forward: I want David Steckel.
Eric Belanger, Vernon Fiddler or even Rich Peverly would also be be quite acceptable. The running theme with all these guys? They are solid depth players and can all be considered faceoff specialists and all are over 53 percent on faceoffs this season. And if the Stars were to get Fiddler they'd get the added bonus of having a faceoff specialist who plays wing.
Imagine third period, a minute left in the game and down by one but the faceoff is in the offensive zone... Stars can throw Brad Richards and Fiddler onto the ice so that even if Fiddler gets thrown out of the faceoff dot, Richards can come in and they'd still have decent chance to gain puck possession.
The Stars in case you haven't really noticed have struggled this season at the faceoff dot and could use the help. Too many times when the Stars need to win a critical faceoff win - especially when on special teams - they simply aren't doing it. The NHL is growing into a puck possession league and all the top teams have at least one if not more player they can turn to to win the really important faceoffs. The Stars have nothing of the sort.
The four players I listed are guys that with the right kind of deal could be brought to Dallas so it's not like I am asking for the moon here either. Who is part of that "right kind of deal" for Dallas? Why not Fabian Brunnstrum and a defensive prospect like Hubert Labrie or Dan Jancevski? For Fiddler or Peverly I'd even throw in a 2nd rounder into that mix. Clearly I am no expert GM based on my fantasy hockey performance this season, but I gotta think a deal could be done here...
Bottom line, I want to see more Stars faceoff wins in the new year and the only way that will happen is if they go out and get a faceoff specialist.
I could have taken the easy way out and said I wished Tom Hicks would increase his budget to meet the actual salary cap.
But that would be too easy, would lack specifics, and would also be the biggest pipe dream in sports right now. So would wishing for a number 1 defenseman to step in here, stabilize the defense, and also be capable of manning the point on the power play.
So realistically, my wish is for young players like Matt Niskanen, Jamie Benn, and James Neal continue to improve and prove themselves worthy enough to be regarded as the next nucleus of the Stars as we press forward. I have no doubts that Joe Nieuwendyk and Marc Crawford will seek to make changes next offseason when the internal cap is lifted.
That having been said, in a salary cap era, it's extremely important for teams to be able to fill holes on their from within as opposed to filling them in free agency. I hate to point to the Red Wings as an example. And to a lesser degree, the Penguins. Afterall, those two franchises have clearly been the best two franchises in the NHL over the last two years. And in the west, Detroit's the gold standard.
Because they've been able to develop their core, their nucleus from within. When you're able to do that, your ROI is much higher than when you're forced to go the free agent route.
Just ask the New York Rangers.
My wish is for the Stars to put together at least some sort of consistency from game-to-game, especially at home. The win against Detroit on Saturday was big for home town fans, and if we all want the Stars to raise their budget and spend more money, then we need better attendance for home games. We're not going to see those empty seats filled unless the fringe fans have something to cheer for, and so far this season has been frustrating. I love nothing more than to see a rocking AAC, filled with cheering Stars fans; not just on Saturdays but also on Mondays and Wednesdays as well.
The goaltending position is a lot like the quarterback position in football: Franchises flounder for years without one you can call a "franchise guy."
Stars fans have had luck with this position over the years, never having the need to see a new guy in the net every other season, but with Marty Turco's play uneven, and the seemingly never ending well of top-notch goal tending prospects finally drying up, this franchise could be in for some real turmoil should Marty Turco be cast out of Dallas without a suitable replacement.
My Christmas wish is not that Marty Turco be re-signed, or that he play better (I do wish this), but that he quite simply go one way or the other, so to speak, such that the goaltending situation is not one that festers into the mid 2010's. That is, I don't want to see the Stars wrap a noose around their neck with an extension for him if he's not going to be consistent, but I also don't want to see him leave Dallas high and dry over money without a backup plan.
I like Marty Turco. He is a very nice man, he's a fierce competitor and he can be a good leader of his defense. He handles the puck unlike any other netminder in the league, maybe ever. All that aside, he has the unfortunate habit lately of making the hard saves and flubbing some easy ones. I'd like him to stop that. I think it would be a real shame for Turco's time to end here without at least a Final appearance.
So please, Hockey Santa Claus, help Joe Nieuwendyk guide this franchise's goaltender position into the new decade.
We don't want to be the Philadelphia Flyers post Ron Hextall.
And if you can't swing that, then please ban those stupid little mustache's like Olli Jokinen and Daniel Carcillo have. Seriously, what is that?
What's your biggest Dallas Stars Holiday wish?