A few days back we looked at the Dallas Stars top penalty killing forwards from last season through various metrics. The main one was scoring chance differential per 60 minutes. The Stars most effective penalty killers last year were shown to be Jamie Benn, Ryan Garbutt, and Cody Eakin because of their ability to direct the attack away from their own end.
What about the last three years? The top 25 penalty killers across the NHL over the past three years (> 180 minutes on the PK) are shown below:
Benn is kind of legit, guys. He's the 5th best penalty killing forward of the past three seasons. Garbutt comes in at 25th. Other names of note for Stars fans:
The three year sample consists of 155 forwards. Cody Eakin shows up in about the middle of the pack along with former Star Loui Eriksson. Both have essentially been the same level of quality over the past three years.
Vernon Fiddler, Antoine Roussel, and Shawn Horcoff are all in the bottom 15 over the last three years along with former Star Eric Nystrom. The players in this group generally allow more chances against and generate fewer chances for than their contemporaries. This isn't a good recipe for success.
The question of how to handle Fiddler is one the Stars will need to carefully consider. He's a well thought of locker room presence, he wears an alternate letter, and he's a quality faceoff man. There is value in that package on the fourth line, but how much time should he really spend killing penalties? Based on this the answer might be not very much.
The problem the Stars will have should they decide to decrease his penalty killing minutes is how to replace those minutes. The Stars don't really have any obvious fit the role of key faceoff-taker and penalty killer. Someone will have to step into that role for an improvement to be made.