While Ryan Garbutt was a polarizing player last season, a mix of head-slappingly dumb penalties and good defensive play, he was one of the best penalty killing players the Dallas Stars had last season. We also explored why Vernon Fiddler's penalty killing time would be better served if they were limited.
That leaves the Stars in a very interesting position going into the new season.
Luckily, training camp is exactly for figuring out questions like "who will be on the penalty killing units for the Stars?" The Stars have at least one forward and one defenseman to replace on the penalty kill units assuming they keep the other personnel the same.
With the forwards it seems like the Stars have a few options, some more obvious than others. Patrick Eaves and Travis Moen seem to be the most likely candidates to take over Ryan Garbutt's minutes on the penalty kill. Eaves, who saw quite a bit of power play time last season, could see more of his minutes distributed between even strength and penalty killing with Valeri Nichuskin returning from injury this season. Moen has been a penalty killer on teams previously at the NHL level.
Other less obvious forward candidates to replace Garbutt include guys like Colton Sceviour or Curtis McKenzie, who don't have experience killing penalties at the NHL level but have had some modicum of success at the lower levels in those roles.
As for defense, Johnny Oduya seems like a natural fit to replace Trevor Daley's minutes on the penalty kill. Oduya spent 134:55 of ice time last season on the penalty kill, fourth highest on defense for the Chicago Blackhawks. While this seems like the most likely way to arrange defensive personnel on the penalty kill, there's some other guys like Jordie Benn or Jason Demers that could take on more penalty kill time. Patrik Nemeth, who missed last season after a skate cut to the forearm, could be a wild card on the blue line for penalty killing. His size and defensive awareness seems to be a natural fit for the penalty kill.
With any luck, the Stars should have plenty of options to fit into their penalty killing units and, hopefully, increase their effectiveness. That will be just one area the Stars will need to be better at this season if they hope to make the playoffs in the Central division.
The Stars had the lowest penalty kill percentage in the Central, and wasn't much better than just average in the league, ranking somewhere around 18th. A mediocre penalty kill isn't going to help them make the playoffs, especially in a division as stacked as the Central.