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2010-2011 DBD Dallas Stars Season Predictions

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When we tasked ourselves with providing "a paragraph" on the upcoming season and a conference rank position, we all found we were a bit too loquacious to be brief. We all love this team to death, you see, and as such we tend to run on a little bit.

Pre-season prognostications are a lot like ...well...opinions (yeah let's go with that). "Everybody's got one," as they say, so please give us yours in the comments section.

Please don't take any of this too seriously should you not agree. We really do love this franchise to an admittedly unhealthy extent and we believe there are good things coming down the road. We just all seem to be in agreement that the sale must be completed for most of those good things to come to fruition.

So without further adieu and blathering on my part I bring you an abbreviation of sorts, and then after the jump I hope you will take a minute to read our discussion in full.

Official 2010-2011 Defending Big D Season Predictions


Brandon Bibb: 11th in the West.

Try as I might to put a good face on this, I just can't see the Stars making the playoffs with this current outfit. I had held out hope that the sale of the club could be completed some time early in the season so as to allow for a possible trade to upgrade the blue line.... CONTD

Pat Iversen: 9th in the West

Honestly, after last season, the only way the team can go is up. Will they make the playoffs? No, probably not. But if the team can go into the season with this new "We've got something to prove" attitude, I don't think that there's any reason to think they can't be more competitive. 

Now, the defense will struggle again this year. But Lehtonen should be able to steal a couple more wins than Marty Turco did last season. And I doubt we'll see as many shootouts as we did a year ago. So factor those in, and you've got yourself a couple more wins... CONTD

Art Middleton: 8th in the West

Forget the sale issues for now... Lets resign ourselves to the fact that no financial relief is going to be headed the Stars way this year in the form of a new owner, but really does it matter?  I think we've seen that Joe Nieuwendyk can manage a team with all kinds of budget constraints during the summer when a GM is supposed to put his work in, so the budget issues during the season aren't as big a deal to me.  And lets not worry about the Brad Richards issue..  If Joe Nieuwendyk didn't want to trade Turco last spring because the Stars were still technically in a playoff race, there is no way he trades Richards if the Stars are in the same position.  If anything, making the playoffs will be so crucial to staying relevant in the DFW sports scene - not to mention showing that a Stars team that makes the playoffs is a very good investment for any future owner - that a trade to put the Stars over the top I'd say is more likely... CONTD

Brad Gardner: 12th in the West

I'm a big believer in  "if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got." 12th place in 08-09, 12th place in 09-10, and 12th place in 10-11. Ultimately we're going to look back and say "they needed to make a change." Was Kari Lehtonen enough of a change? It's too early to say, really, but I remain skeptical.

The biggest reason I say 12th is this: Can the Dallas Stars make the playoffs without Brad Richards for 20~ games? Most would say "of course not," and unlike Art, I believe he will be moved if the sale continues its current inactivity. March and April without Brad Richards means only one thing.... CONTD

Brandon Worley: 7th in the West

It's tough to look at the roster for the Stars heading into this season and say that this is ultimately a better roster than the one from the last season, a Dallas Stars team that was out of playoff contention just days after coming back from the Olympic Break. Only three new players are on this team: Kari Lehtonen, Andrew Raycroft and Adam Burish. The rest of the team is the exact same and with that lack of turnover or improvement it's nearly impossible to predict an improvement this season, right?

Full opinions after the jump...

Brandon Bibb:


Prediction: 11th

Try as I might to put a good face on this, I just can't see the Stars making the playoffs with this current outfit. I had held out hope that the sale of the club could be completed some time early in the season so as to allow for a possible trade to upgrade the blue line.

But with news coming down that a Liverpool sale to a group headed up by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry could close as early as Friday, Tom Hicks stands to lose about $115 million on his investment in the storied English football club.

And that, I fear, would cause him and Sal Galatioto to dig in their heels even deeper until their asking price for the Stars is met.

Until that happens, the blue line corps is what it is. And that's a relatively young blue line corps without a legit #1 defenseman.

There's still hope, as Ralph Strangis pointed out last week on XM Radio, that Kari Lehtonen could pull a Craig Anderson and carry the Stars to the playoffs all by himself the way Anderson carried the Avs into the playoffs. But that's still a dicey proposition given Lehtonen's injury history in Atlanta.

Not to mention, every team that finished ahead of the Stars last season is still better.

Pat Iversen:


Prediction: 9th

I'm admittedly a Dallas Stars optimist, and maybe this is just my wishful thinking, but I would not be surprised at all if the Stars were in the middle of a fight for the last playoff spot come March. 


Honestly, the stuff going on with the team financially scares me to death. Like B-Bibb pointed out, there's no chance anything with the sale gets done before the season ends. And a Brad Richards trade at the deadline is a possibility if the Stars are completely out of the race at that point.

But I don't really see any reason why they wouldn't be. Let's not forget that last year's team was in the middle of the playoff hunt for most of the season, even through the trade deadline. It wasn't until a couple of weeks before the end of the season that they were officially eliminated. And they bring back basically the same team as last year, with a Adam Burish upgrade and what seems to be a more confident mindset. 

Granted, we must take what we saw in the preseason with a grain of salt. But individually, I liked what I saw. Brenden Morrow is back to his old form. Kari Lehtonen looks like what we all thought he could be if healthy. Mike Ribeiro seems fired up. Overall, the group gave me the impression this season that something was different. 

Honestly, after last season, the only way the team can go is up. Will they make the playoffs? No, probably not. But if the team can go into the season with this new "We've got something to prove" attitude, I don't think that there's any reason to think they can't be more competitive. 

Now, the defense will struggle again this year. But Lehtonen should be able to steal a couple more wins than Marty Turco did last season. And I doubt we'll see as many shootouts as we did a year ago. So factor those in, and you've got yourself a couple more wins. 

Again, maybe I'm just blindly optimistic. But I just feel like there's something different this season that will give us hope throughout the inevitably depressing off season that awaits us.

Art Middleton:


Prediction: 4th in the Pacific, 8th in the West

Allow me to out-optimist Pat's optimism:  The Stars will make the playoffs.

Yes you read that right.  It might be on the last day of the regular season and it might be by the smallest of margins but the Dallas Stars in 2011 will be in the post season.

Forget the sale issues for now... Lets resign ourselves to the fact that no financial relief is going to be headed the Stars way this year in the form of a new owner, but really does it matter?  I think we've seen that Joe Nieuwendyk can manage a team with all kinds of budget constraints during the summer when a GM is supposed to put his work in, so the budget issues during the season aren't as big a deal to me.  And lets not worry about the Brad Richards issue..  If Joe Nieuwendyk didn't want to trade Turco last spring because the Stars were still technically in a playoff race, there is no way he trades Richards if the Stars are in the same position.  If anything, making the playoffs will be so crutial to staying relevant in the DFW sports scene - not to mention showing that a Stars team that makes the playoffs is a very good investment for any future owner - that a trade to put the Stars over the top I'd say is more likely.

This team was in the middle of the West playoff pack last season up until the Olympic break when things fell apart in a hurry.  This year, Morrow looks more focused, Neal's future is secure, Ribs by all accounts has a better attitude this season and is more prepared for Marc Crawford's system, Loui has proved he's no fluke, same with Ott...

The only question marks that really remain are the defense and goaltending.  Can Kari stay healthy?  If he can, the chances for the playoffs get even larger.  Can the defense toughen up in their own end?  Based on what we've seen in the preseason, I think there are more signs that the answer is "yes" rather than "no"  If either of these things falter, then sure it could be a very long, cold, non-playoff type season.

But I really do feel last year was 'rock bottom'  for the Stars and now the begin the climb upward...  And it begins this year with a playoff spot.

Brad Gardner:


I gotta go with 12th. Unfortunately.

All signs are pointing up. The penalty kill looks better. The goaltending looks better. The locker room changes seem for the better. New assistant coach Desjardins runs tight, detail oriented practices and is helping the team in ways you can't yet see. Mike Ribeiro looks newly motivated. Brad Richards is in a contract year and will be motivated. The real Brenden Morrow is re-emerging. Fistric and Grossman continue to make strides. Adam Burish is fitting in. The players have a year under Marc Crawford now and that means less thinking, more doing. Jamie Benn is an emerging talent.

Yes, there is lots to like with the Stars this year, but then there's that other thing.

The sale of the team has gone from "nothing like the protracted ordeal of the Rangers" to "Uh oh." The lenders, that for all intents and purposes own the team now, seem content to shuffle their feet, twiddle their thumbs, and WAIT. They'll wait and they'll wait. They want that price to go up and they're under no pressure to sell. They have money enough to run the team this year.

So while they wait, Brad Richards can't negotiate an extension. While they wait, Brad Richards (or any sane person) starts to wonder why they'd want to be around this dysfunctional situation any longer than they have to. This all leads to either trading him, or losing him for nothing.

The Stars didn't trade Marty Turco because the going rate for a goaltender at the trade deadline was a bag of pucks and a Zamboni engine. The going rate for Brad Richards will be picks. Picks used to pay nice cheap young players, and cheap is the way of things around Dallas now. If things don't change, I believe Brad Richards will be moved.

So I ask myself: Can the Stars make the playoffs if they don't have Brad Richards in March and April?

I hope so, but it's a hard, hard road. And this situation really stinks.

If the Stars were in the east, this is a different discussion. The West is stronger. Much stronger.

Brandon Worley:


Prediction: 3rd in the Pacific, 7th in the West

It's tough to look at the roster for the Stars heading into this season and say that this is ultimately a better roster than the one from the last season, a Dallas Stars team that was out of playoff contention just days after coming back from the Olympic Break. Only three new players are on this team: Kari Lehtonen, Andrew Raycroft and Adam Burish. The rest of the team is the exact same and with that lack of turnover or improvement it's nearly impossible to predict an improvement this season, right?

While the players may be the same, and while we'll likely see the exact same brand of hockey we witnessed last season, slight changes (and one major one) point to a definite improvement for the season.

Brenden Morrow is back to being the captain. He looks to be fully in charge once more, back to being the Brenden Morrow that led the Stars to the Conference Finals two years ago. He's active offensively, he's fired up on the ice and he's as physical as he ever was.

Adam Burish was signed not just to add some right-handed oomph from the wing, but to fill that void of attitude that was missing last season. We found out that Steve Ott can't do it all himself and while I'm not expecting Burish to go crazy on the ice, his ability to be physical and play with an attitude is exactly what the Stars need. It's already affecting the rest of the team.

Mike Ribeiro apparently is a brand new man. He's embraced his role as a veteran leader on the team, the players respect him and he's in the best shape of his career. I'm guessing all of the trade rumors over the summer really were a slap in the face and he's focused on being the player he's always had the potential to be.

That second line, the one above - that is what the Stars were missing last season. Not all of the pressure is on Richards, Neal and Eriksson and the Stars should -- once again -- have two legitimately scary lines for opponents to deal with. Add in the continued development of Jamie Benn and the Stars have what seems to be a fairly deep roster at forward.

I understand the concerns on defense. Hopefully Kari Lehtonen can play some inspired hockey, to make the crucial saves not made last season and the Stars can avoid the overtime and shootout losses that was the difference for this team in not making the playoffs.

There are concerns about ownership and Brad Richards, but if this team is deep in the playoff hunt I can't see them trading their #1 center -- no matter who is paying the bills. Start the season strong, win more than two games in a row and the rest should fall into place.