At the trade deadline last season, the Dallas Stars acquired Mats Zuccarello to improve the offense.
His time in Victory Green was short-lived, as he broke his arm in the very first game after being acquired by Dallas less than 24 hours previously. He’d return just in time to get a couple of regular season games in before appearing in the Stars’ two postseason rounds. In the 15 games he appeared in for Dallas, he scored five goals and captured nine assists for 14 points.
A basically point-per-game player doesn’t come along all that often for a team that struggles to generate offense. Zuccarello changed the complexion of the Stars, and it seemed to be a good fit for the player and for the team.
But the siren of unrestricted free agency can be alluring, especially for a player that had been with one team for his entire career prior to being traded at the deadline. The Minnesota Wild offered the Norwegian player a five year, $30 million contract. It was reportedly at least one year longer than Dallas was offering.
Now, Zuccarello returns to Dallas for the first time in the regular season after signing that Wild contract. He’s likely to get a warm reception in Big D — he cultivated a bit of a cult following in his short stint here, primarily driven by the fact that the Stars seemed to be energized after his acquisition. That’s what will happen when you score a goal and two assists in an injury-shortened debut.
The Stars feel like they’re right back where they were last fall, before Zuccarello’s acquisition and a team game that had full buy-in from the players was found after the All-Star break. Although last fall was partly a byproduct of injuries, there’s still a lot of parallels to watching the Stars struggle to score much like they did last fall.
Zuccarello, on the other hand, finds himself in a situation not unlike the one he found himself in with the New York Rangers last fall. He’s on a team that isn’t expected to be all that good. The difference is that Zuccarello has struggled to create offense in Minnesota so far this season, whereas he was lighting it up with New York to start the year last season.
DALLAS STARS LINEUP
Tyler Seguin was reportedly feeling under the weather and absent from morning skate, but Stars PR told assembled media that he is expected to play tonight.
From Stars PR Seguin is feeling under weather but is supposed to play tonight— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) October 29, 2019
The lines are likely to shake out something like this for tonight’s contest after Nick Caamano was called up late yesterday afternoon:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Corey Perry
Alexander Radulov - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Denis Gurianov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Nicholas Caamano
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Joel Hanley - Taylor Fedun
Ben Bishop gets the start.
MINNESOTA WILD LINEUP
Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise - Joel Eriksson Ek - Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno - Mikko Koivu - Ryan Hartman
Jordan Greenway - Victor Rask - Kevin Fiala
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Mathew Dumba
Carson Soucy - Brad Hunt
Alex Stalock is the most likely to man the net for the Wild.