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Which Forwards Could Replace Ryan Garbutt On The Penalty Kill?

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Garbutt was one of the Stars' top penalty killing forwards during his time in Dallas. Luckily for the team, they have options for who to use in his place

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Few Dallas Stars players were as controversial over the last two seasons as Ryan Garbutt was.

Garbutt, who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks this summer as part of the Patrick Sharp deal, often, and justifiably, drew the ire of Stars fans for reckless play and unnecessary penalties that hurt his team.

Yet, despite the bad aspects of his game, Garbutt did bring a few attributes to the Stars that made him a regular roster player.

While his blazing foot speed and occasional goal-scoring prowess (he lit the lamp 17 times in 2013-2014) were valuable, it was his time shorthanded that might have been his biggest contribution to the Stars.  As outlined by this article by Josh back in May, Garbutt was a very solid penalty killer, among the best forwards in the league.

As a team, the Stars were a below-average 19th in the NHL in terms of killing penalties last year, finishing with an 80.7% effectiveness rate. While it wasn't an area that particularly sunk the Stars' playoff hopes, it's still one that needs to improve if Dallas hopes to become one of the league's true contending teams. Even though Garbutt was only 4th among Stars forwards in terms of shorthanded time on ice per-game last season (1:33 per game), his departure could prove to be problematic in that department going forward.

The good news, however, is that the Stars have a variety of forward options at their disposal that they can try out to help alleviate the problem. Let's take a look now at who these options are and why they might be able to help.

Jamie Benn

Another interesting finding from Josh's article linked above is that Benn is not only Dallas' top penalty killer, but he's also one of the best in the entire league.

The question, however, is how much the Stars really want Benn killing penalties at all.

It's no secret that the reigning Art Ross winner is a dominating offensive player. He's going to be playing on the team's top line and on the #1 powerplay unit. That, right there, is a lot of ice time, and it'll largely be against the top defensive players from other teams. How much more of a workload will the coaching staff want Benn to have, especially when it would involve the tough task of killing penalties?

Benn was 5th among Stars forwards in shorthanded ice time last season (1:28 per game), and all things considered, it might be best to keep that number somewhere in that range.

Travis Moen

When the Stars acquired Moen from the Montreal Canadiens last season general manager Jim Nill, in the press release for the trade, said that Moen would be an "important part" of the team's penalty kill.

It was easy to see why he would say that. Moen has been a regular penalty killer for much of his hockey career, including his last full season in Montreal. He averaged 2:33 of PK time for the Habs in 2013-2014, the second most among forwards on the team. Moen was decently good at the job, and the Canadiens even had the NHL's 4th best PK that year.

Yet, Moen never saw himself killing penalties after he got to Dallas, spending a total of only 6:43 shorthanded over the course of 34 games.

At 33 years old, Moen is well past his prime years. His foot speed has taken a hit and he's battled injuries over the last couple of seasons. That being said, though, he might still have something to offer the team in terms of killing penalties.

Patrick Eaves

Much like Moen, Eaves has been a regular penalty killer in the past with different teams, but has yet to find himself in that role in Dallas.

Eaves logged 2:41 of shorthanded time per game in 63 contests for the Detroit Red Wings in 2010-2011, the second highest for forwards on the team.

With Patrick Sharp now a Dallas Star and Valeri Nichushkin coming back from hip surgery is seems likely that Eaves will see less powerplay time than he did last season (1:53 per game). That drop in PP ice time could be counterbalanced with an increase in PK time.

Colton Sceviour

Sceviour hasn't been used much in a penalty killing role in his 99 NHL games to date, but still has applicable experience from his AHL days. He was a regular penalty killer for the Texas Stars during his five years there, and even scored four shorthanded goals during the 2012-2013 season.

With the depth that the Stars have up front it seems like Sceviour will be hard-pressed to get a lot of even strength ice time. If he's fresh and rested most nights it could be worth a shot to see how much energy he can bring to the penalty kill.