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Dallas Stars New Top Six Forwards Offer Promise

The Stars have new players. We answer the question "what do they do?".

Tyler Seguin and his snappy tie wait to be drafted.
Tyler Seguin and his snappy tie wait to be drafted.
Jim McIsaac

The Dallas Stars got to work building the 2014 roster before the opening bell rang on the free agent period. In two separate deals the Stars acquired Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from the Boston Bruins, and Shawn Horcoff from the Edmonton Oilers. They immediately filled all of their short term needs at center, and the especially large gaping hole on the first line.

Tyler Seguin is the marquee acquisition. He is the type of player the Stars have been missing since the departure of Brad Richards, but he is quite a bit different from Richards. Richards is more of a playmaker, whereas Seguin eclipsed Richards' career high goal total in 2012 as a 20 year old. He is going to be much more of a goal scorer. In his last year in the OHL Seguin scored 48 goals in 63 games. In Switzerland this year during the lockout he put 25 pucks in the next in 29 games.

In what is going to become a running theme in this post, the Bruins didn't put much effort into sheltering Seguin. He faced a fair level of competition. The Bruins did take some effort to push Seguin away from the defensive end, and that could be a little foreshadowing for what the Stars new top line can expect. Seguin, Jamie Benn, and whoever is on the line with them can likely expect a similar level of responsibility.

The Bruins did, however, rely on Rich Peverley to tough defensive assignments. The Stars see Peverley as a top six option, and his experience playing those difficult minutes would mesh well with the experiences of Ray Whitney.

The last two and a half seasons Peverley has played 15-16 minutes a night with the Bruins. In the two and a half seasons prior with the Atlanta Thrasher he was on the ice for 18-19 minutes. Prior to being traded to Boston Peverley was on a line centering Ilya Kovalchuk.

Peverley offers the Stars a lot of offensive upside. In close to 17 minutes per game in 2012 Peverley scored 42 points in 57 games. Over the past four seasons he has been a 40-50 point player, and in 2012 he would have soared past that total had he been able to remain healthy.

He is known for his playmaking ability. Both he and Seguin should add a big element the Stars have been missing for several years. They have desperately needed playmakers. The addition of Whitney last year helped. Seguin and Peverley should definitely give the Stars NHL caliber playmaking ability at even strength and on the power play.

Peverley is going to bring a significant boost to the Stars face-off winning ability. Peverley won 58% of the draws he took last year. The Stars other acquisition, Horcoff, isn't as accomplished on the draw, but he has a history of playing some of the most difficult minutes in the league. Peverley played some difficult minutes with the Bruins, but they pale in comparison to what Horcoff was thrown into.

During the 2013 season Horcoff had his responsibilities relieved a bit, but Ralph Krueger did get fired after one season. In the 2012 season Horcoff was buried in his own end to the tune of taking 42% of his faceoffs in the defensive end. Only the Flames checking line, the Mike Fisher line in Nashville, and the Sharks top line saw a higher average quality of competition.

The Oilers used Horcoff to protect the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line from tough competition as he got acclimated to the NHL. He was very successful in the role, but Ralph flipped the script in 2013. The Nuge saw those tough matchups instead while Horcoff remained buried in his own end. Given the quick dismissal of Krueger I don't know that I would read much into how Horcoff was used last year.

Horcoff had his minutes cut significantly last year, but when healthy he has been a 40-50 point scorer at the NHL level like Peverley. He isn't a huge offensive option, but he gives the Stars more depth up front. In recent years the Stars have had an over reliance on one or two players which led to them being very easy to defend against. Horcoff's presence lower in the lineup, presumably with a younger player like Alex Chiasson, should provide some solid depth scoring.

The cost of the roster shake up was significant, but the motivation for the moves is clear. The Stars are now strong up the middle. They have shaken up the power play significantly with the additions. Equally important is the fact that they should have solid depth scoring for the first time in nearly five years.

The roster is still a work in progress. The Stars could use a right wing or three badly, but it certainly is nice to look at a roster that has considerable NHL talent on it.