One of the things that separates the good NHL franchises from the truly great NHL franchises is the ability to be a top team for long periods of time.
Sacrificing everything for one or two runs at the Stanley Cup is all fine and dandy, but the more admirable challenge is setting your organization up to be competitive for extended stretches. That's why teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, who both won multiple Stanley Cups in relatively small time frames, have been held in such high regard in recent years.
For the Dallas Stars, there is an obvious drive to be successful in the here and now. The Stars finished 2nd in the entire NHL last year during the regular season and made it to the second round of the playoffs before being ousted by a more experienced St. Louis Blues squad in a tight, seven-game series. With plenty of talent at their disposal and a great group of experienced veterans to help guide the way, the Stars are more than capable of once again being one of the NHL's most dangerous teams this upcoming season.
At the same time, however, this has not come as the cost of the team's future. Many of the club's best players are just entering the prime years of their careers, and there are a number of promising talents that are still coming up through juniors, the college ranks, the minors leagues and the top leagues in Europe.
To get a better idea of just how well established the Stars are for the future, I've compiled the following tables, examining the team's depth of young talent at each position.
For the sake of this exercise, I've only included players that are currently 24 years of age or younger, with the exception of 27 year-old Jamie Benn, who just signed an eight-year extension to remain with the team well into the future. I've also only included the team's top young players, excluding others that are more likely to be pushed out of the picture eventually due to competition. I've tried to keep players at their natural positions but made some slight adjustments when necessary.
These lists, of course, are subject to change over time as transactions are made and players either get better or get worse on their unique development paths.
Let's take a look:
|Jamie Benn||Tyler Seguin||Valeri Nichushkin|
|Riley Tufte||Jason Dickinson||Denis Gurianov|
|Mattias Janmark||Radek Faksa||Devin Shore|
|Remi Elie||Roope Hintz||Brett Ritchie|
|Cole Ully||Fredrik Karlstrom||Matej Stransky|
|Esa Lindell||John Klingberg|
|Patrik Nemeth||Julius Honka|
|Jamie Oleksiak||Stephen Johns|
|Mattias Backman||Niklas Hansson|
Areas Of Strength:
- Boy that forward group looks good, doesn't it? There's a ton of depth and talent at all three positions. There's also a very clear theme here - two-way players with good size and skating - that should make the Stars a difficult team to match up against.
- The quality of right-shot defensemen is quite impressive. Niklas Hansson is a very solid prospect, and yet, he's still fourth on that side of the chart behind John Klingberg, Julius Honka and Stephen Johns. A lot other teams in the league would likely kill for that kind of depth in such a coveted role.
- I've written in Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore on the wings, but both players are natural centers, making that seven for the list. Dallas is going to be very, very strong down the middle for a long time.
Areas Of Weakness:
- With all due respect to Philippe Desrosiers, Maxime Lagace and Colton Point, goaltending still seems to be something of an issue for the team. All three netminders seem like they have NHL potential, but none are currently projecting as bonafide #1 goalies at the NHL level. Careful organizational development will be needed for this position, as well as some extra attention in upcoming drafts.
- The left side of the blueline is interesting, to say the least. Esa Lindell has a bright future ahead of him, but what about beyond that? Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak could see a significant number of healthy scratches this season, to the detriment of their developments, while Mattias Backman might head back to Europe next year if he doesn't get a meaningful opportunity at the NHL level. It will definitely be something to watch closely.
- I've harped on this topic a few times before, but it bears asking once more: could the Stars use one or two more elite playmakers in their forward ranks, just to balance things out a bit? There are a lot of skilled forwards in the system, including many finishers, but very few that truly excel when it comes to puck distribution.