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Winter Olympic Break: Grade The Dallas Stars Defensemen

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ESPN Dallas is running a series that talks about several aspects of the Dallas Stars overall team this season, and whether they are trending up, down or about the average of what we expected for this season. He asked me to give my thoughts, and today we talked about the Dallas Stars forwards. You can read that here.

This got me to thinking about the expectations we've had for each player since the start of the season, and how those expectations have either been met or we've been left disappointed. We'll be grading each player for the complete season this summer, but with the Olympic break upon us I thought now would be a good time to talk about what our respective expectations might have been for each player. Today, we'll talk defensemen.

First, think about how you feel the defensemen have performed as a group over the season so far. Vote for the overall grade of blueliners and then stop by in the comments and let us know how you feel about each defensemen. Who has been the most improved? Who has disappointed the most? What needs to be done for this team group to take the next step?

After the jump, a quick rundown of each defensemen.

Remember: These grades are based upon expectations specific to that player.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Trevor Daley 56 3 9 12 -1 15 1 0 1 0 75 4.0

This was supposed to be Daley's breakout season, yet he has just 12 points and has scored nearly as many goals on Marty Turco as he has all season long. What's frustrating is we've seen Daley flash this great potential over and over again yet has never put it all together from game to game. Daley has certainly improved over the past month, and point production is not the only area where defensemen are graded; despite some major issues early on the past few weeks have seen a confident Trevor Daley truly step it up in his own zone.

Grade so far: C


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Mark Fistric 48 1 7 8 15 43 0 0 0 0 31 3.2

Mark Fistric spent  a good portion of last season in the AHL, and he has returned to the NHL a changed hockey player. This is the big, strong, physical and nasty defensemen this team needs to counter it's offensive expectations and he's added some impressive defensive stability to go along with his hitting. Stars fans are excited about Fistric and his prospects moving forward, and it's been impressive to see how he's improved throughout the season.

Grade so far: A


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Maxime Fortunus 8 0 0 0 -6 4 0 0 0 0 5 0.0

I'm including Fortunus here because it's looking like he may have a future in the NHL with this team, especially after the Ivan Vishnevskiy trade. He's become the go-to guy for when the Stars need a defensive call up on defense and while his numbers are far from impressive, he's certainly passed the eyeball test. He's a strong, intelligent defensemen who has been a good anchor when the Stars him.

Grade so far: B


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Nicklas Grossman 54 0 4 4 0 24 0 0 0 0 47 0.0

There was time in the opening months of the season that Grossman led the entire NHL in plus/minus. Now, he's certainly come down to earth a bit as the season has progressed but Grossman has excelled playing next to Robidas all season long. I said last season that if Grossman can find a way to actually use his size to his advantage, then he'd be able to really turn the corner to becoming a top defenseman. Of the three young players on the blue line, he's come the farthest.

Grade so far: B


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Matt Niskanen 57 2 10 12 -7 16 0 0 2 0 89 2.2

We all know his struggles, and it's tough to watch because it's obvious these are mental mistakes and nothing to really do with overall ability. He's earnest, has a big shot and great passing ability but he's suffering from a serious lack of confidence. He's improved lately, although he's still plagued by serious gaffes at the wrong time. Perhaps some time away from the power play, where he's struggled, could help his overall game.

Grade so far: D


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Stephane Robidas 61 10 23 33 -6 37 7 0 1 0 142 7.0

He's Robidas. He takes a lick and he keeps going. He's slowed down significantly in offensive production the past few months, but he's holding up much better this season than last as the team's de facto number one guy.

Grade so far: A


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Karlis Skrastins 59 2 9 11 -3 16 0 0 1 0 41 4.9

Skrastins has shown exactly what we expected he would be; a safe, intelligent defenseman who will block a ton of shots. He has influenced the team around him as well, as the Stars are blocking more shots overall than in previous seasons. He has just 16 penalty minutes, is rarely out of position and is just solid overall. He even has two goals!

Grade so far: B


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Jeff Woywitka 25 0 3 3 -1 4 0 0 0 0 33 0.0

I've been impressed overall with Woywitka's play, as he's appeared in spot duty throughout the season. Because of injuries, he's played much more often lately than the first few months of the season and he's playing much stronger with better consistency in his efforts. Yet we still haven't seen the offense that was promised from his AHL days.

Grade so far: C

Poll

Dallas Stars defensemen so far based on your expectations?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (2 votes)
  • 16%
    B
    (30 votes)
  • 61%
    C
    (109 votes)
  • 18%
    D
    (33 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (3 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now