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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Where Will the Stars Finish in the Central Division?

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In the tough Central Division, where will the Stars end up? Plus, Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky should play tonight, and a look at who's impressed in the preseason so far.

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Sports Illustrated has been breaking down each team's prospects for the upcoming season, and the Stars' turn finally came around. Here's what Allan Muir had to say about Dallas' best asset.

The strength of the Stars will be their best-in-the-West offense. Led by the one-two punch of 2015 Art Ross winner Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin—who might have won the award if not for a late-season knee injury and is a favorite to top the scoring charts this season—Dallas boasts a deep and dangerous group of scorers. Patrick Sharp (trade with Chicago) will add versatility and a veteran presence to the top six.

...

Valeri Nichushkin is virtually a new face after losing nearly all of last season to hip surgery. The promising power forward can be Jagr-esque at times, but he needs to find consistency to reach his potential. He could slot in on the second line beside Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky if he can make the switch to left wing.

And, of course, we've got the bad. Muir breaks down the situation on defense—and poses the question of how many minutes Johnny Oduya can handle, and whether Patrik Nemeth can shoulder some of them—before coming to what he sees as the team's main weakness. (You get one guess.)

Ultimately, though, this team's success will come down to Lehtonen's ability to regain the mental edge that eluded him on too many nights last season. If he can't (he struggled ominously in his first preseason outing, a 6-0 loss to St. Louis, and committed a gaffe that cost the Stars a game against Florida), Nill will regret his decision to gamble on a pair of fair goalies rather than one good one.

So what's the bottom line?

PREDICTION: 101 points, second in Central

Not too bad, as it turns out. Give the whole preview a read at the link, then feel free to voice your agreement/disagreement with a second-place Central finish below. [SI]

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Your last chance to catch preseason hockey at the AAC is tonight, at 7:30 pm vs. the Blues.

Good news for those planning to attend the game: Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky are both expected to take their new-and-improved hips out for a spin. [Stars]

Jason Spezza's status for the game, however, is slightly less sure. As Lindy Ruff put it...

Mike Heika held his weekly Stars chat yesterday and had plenty of insight about who we should plan to see on the ice opening night and why we should be optimistic about the defense. [DMN]

The Stars aren't the only team with a big question mark in net. Read up on other goalie struggles around the league [Puck Daddy]

Owen Newkirk and Josh Bogorad dish on who has stood out for the Stars in the preseason so far.

At Sports Illustrated, a few thoughts on prospects making a good impression this preseason, one of which is Mattias Janmark—who, ICYMI, Mike Heika wrote about here.

... Mattias Janmark continued making a strong case for a spot on the Stars' opening night roster. The 22-year-old forward, acquired at the deadline last season from Detroit in the Erik Cole deal, has been one of Dallas's most noticeable players every step of the way this fall. He dominated the Traverse City rookie tournament, tallying six points in four games, and has made an impression with his hustle and net presence.

There's a bit more about Sunday's Panthers/Stars game at the link. [SI]

Both Las Vegas and Quebec should be presenting to NHL execs today in NYC. [ESPN]

Finally, the answer to the question that's been plaguing you: Is Sean Monahan really that boring? [Sportsnet]

From the Hurricanes' playoff chances to the importance of faceoffs, 10 stat-driven story lines to follow in 2015-16. [USA Today]

Who should you avoid drafting for your fantasy hockey team? The Triplets, for starters, says TSN's Scott Cullen. [TSN]

And finally, when Edmonton captain Andrew Ference went missing, it was up to Spider-Mable and The Children's Wish Foundation to bring him back safely. (This picture will also make you smile.)

P.S. Nine days left. Y'all know what that means.