The 2018-19 NHL regular season is almost upon us, which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite event of the year — predicting the final season standings! Sure, they’re almost always going to be horribly wrong once some teams inevitably defy expectations (see: Vegas and Edmonton from last season), but they’re still fun to make regardless.
Yesterday, the Defending Big D staff broke down our predictions for the Eastern Conference. Before jumping into the Western Conference tomorrow, let’s take a look at how we feel the Dallas Stars will fare this season.
Like last year, everyone has predicted the Stars to make the Stanley Cup playoffs — I swear we’re not biased — although given the ferocity of the Central Division, no one has them ranked higher than third. A couple have them pegged for the first Wild Card spot, and only one writer — who shall remain nameless — thinks they’ll finish as low as the eighth seed.
Here are everyone’s individual predictions. Tomorrow, we’ll cap things off with the rest of the Western Conference.
Taylor: I’m not sold on Dallas being able to beat the Winnipeg Jets or Nashville Predators of the division consistently, but I think they’ll win more of the games against the rest of their division enough to make up for it. Tyler Seguin finally finds a system that brings the best out of him on both ends of the ice, and is a surprising contender for the Selke at the end of the year. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
Robert T: Here’s a bonkers thing to say: Dallas could win this division. It’s not likely, mind, but consider: Winnipeg and Nashville are both elite, but the field is pretty clear after that (unless you feel optimistic about St. Louis and Jake Allen, which I don’t). So, I think Dallas’s vastly improved blue line, better forward depth, and updated style of play could help them to draw points out of a lot of those clean L’s they ate against the good teams last year. If the Jets don’t get career seasons from the likes of Scheifele and Wheeler again, and if their blue line takes a step back (which seems quite likely), I could see Dallas at least making them hear footsteps. Same for Nashville, except where the mid-30s goalie doesn’t win a Vezina Trophy and players like Hartnell, Järnkrok, and Bonino don’t shoot 15%. Regression time, baby! Yes, the Stars are probably a 97-point team on average, but the Stars probably should have made the playoffs last year, too. Seasons can be weird. The Stars should be better, but let’s not pretend they don’t have some thin areas. Prediction: 4th in the Central, 1st Wild Card
Logan: While Nashville and Winnipeg are set for another year of bulldozing their way through the Central, Colorado looks set to capitalize on the mojo their 2018 Wild Card spot brought to the team. However, signing Seguin long term and deploying a well-balanced team under a new, young coach gives the Stars the decisive edge over the tough fight for a playoff spot in the grittiest division in the league. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
David: Good teams miss the playoffs all the time, and middling teams make the playoffs all the time. Dallas was a good team last season, sunk by dreck on the bench (never mind the roster decisions like how is a power play unit with Benn, Seguin, Radulov, Spezza, and Klingberg a near-bottom 10 team?). To me the real x-factor isn’t just head coach Jim Montgomery, but GM Jim Nill finally putting his vision to the test. Heiskanen, Honka, Nichushkin, Hintz, Gurianov (injuries?), and Dickinson could all possibly play, and they’ll be a big part of why this team succeeds. Dallas isn’t the cream of the crop in the Central, but their roster is getting noticeably better versus opponents who are quietly stagnating. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
Derek: There’s a good energy around the Stars right now, with a lot of confidence brimming, and this team has shown that they can find a lot of success when things are going well. The big question still remaining, however, is just how well they can handle the inevitable adversity they will face, which is something that has sunk them in the past. They’re a little more grizzled and experienced than they were before, so if Jim Montgomery can keep the team cohesive and disciplined then this could be a very big season of growth in Dallas. Prediction: 4th in the Central, 1st Wild Card
Ann: Is confidence the missing factor in pushing this team forward? On paper they’re amazing, but we’ve all watched night after night as a team that has everything going for it fails again. Could a new coach and some good old fashioned belief in themselves actually make the machine work? I like an inspirational sports film as much as the next person, and I’m primed for belief. That said, even a fresh coat of paint and some good feelings probably won’t skyrocket them past the Jets or the Predators. Prediction: 3rd in Central
Wes: I believe that the pieces of a playoff team exist in Dallas. Thing is, I’ve believed the same thing as far back as 2013-2014. For me, 2018-2019 rests squarely in the hands of Jim Montgomery and the mostly-new coaching staff. If they can find a way to drag offense out of players not named Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, John Klingberg, or Alexander Radulov without completely cratering the GAA, this team will be good. If they can solve a power play that has consistently failed to reflect the quality of its pieces, this team could be great. Bonus prediction: by season’s end, Julius Honka will either be firmly entrenched in Dallas’ top six, or playing somewhere else. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
Adam: As excited as Stars fans are about Jim Montgomery’s new system and the fact that he will actually use some of the young guns, it seems like the players are excited simply by the fact that Montgomery isn’t Ken Hitchcock. The thing I am anxious to see is how they bounce back when adversity hits, because that has not been the team’s strong suit over the past couple of years. Playing in the toughest division in the league certainly doesn’t help things either. That being said, I have to be optimistic because that’s just how I am, so I’m predicting a visit to the second round of the playoffs. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
Tyler: With the exception of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Stars have consistently been a borderline playoff team for the past decade or so. I think the change in coaching staff and slight roster upgrades push Dallas over the playoff hump, but I think the tough Central matchups will keep their point totals lower than one might hope. Prediction: 4th in the Central, 2nd Wild Card
Rob M: The Stars did some house keeping in the offseason and the new style of Jim Montgomery is a system that works for this team. The Stars will score more goals and play good —not great — defense this season and just beat out the Blues in the Central. Look for Ben Bishop to be a major reason why the team slides back into the playoffs. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
Micah: Dallas improved their scoring depth this offseason with a little bit of veteran flavor. And as long as the bottom lines can hold their ground, we will finally be able to see the top line of Benn-Seguin-Radulov come into fruition for a bit longer than last year. The team finally gets to see the young star Miro Heiskanen play in a Stars sweater while improving the blue line, and old players find new life under Jim Montgomery’s system as Dallas clears the field of the Central but ultimately gets halted by Nashville and Winnipeg among the top. While the Stars will peak at the top at times, the young team will see some struggles and will ultimately lose ground because of it. Prediction: 3rd in the Central
Jessica: Were all of the changes enough to have an immediate effect this season, or will it take some time? That should be the question everyone is asking moving forward into this season. While we’re all excited about the coaching changes (new, younger blood), players brought in, and talented prospects that are panning out, this feels like a team poised to make a huge jump — in the future. Despite the changes, the new systems, new players, and new culture will take time to adjust to and perfect. On paper, this feels like it could be the Stars’ year, but I think it’ll take a season or two for everyone to really click, find their stride, and buy into all of the new implementations. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, so Stars fans should settle in for an exciting year of growth, but not for a deep playoff run. Prediction: 3rd in Central