It’s one thing to have an opinion about the Dallas Stars. It’s quite another to make sure everyone knows it. And it’s always interesting to learn whether Universally Held Beliefs aren’t as pervasive as you thought.
Saad Yousuf kicks off his tenure as The Athletic’s lead Stars writer with a new fan survey – a follow-up to an April edition co-authored with Sean Shapiro – that covers everything from Tyler Seguin’s Stanley Cup performance to the short-term goaltending tandem of Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger. He found growing confidence in Rick Bowness as head coach and a continued belief that Jim Nill is the right general manager at the right time:
Bowness clearly has won a lot of fans over. When we conducted our first fan survey of the year back in April, after the sports stoppage which Dallas entered on a six-game losing streak and before the playoff run that came just two games short of the ultimate prize, we posed the question, “Should Rick Bowness be the Stars coach to start the 2020-21 season? In 1,124 votes, 60.4 percent of you said no, 26.7 percent said maybe and only 12.9 percent said yes. Given the evidence on hand in April, that was probably a fair response. Today, in nearly the same sample size but under vastly different circumstances, the feeling is overwhelming approval....
[There is] solid approval of Jim Nill, as it should be. It’s impossible to be perfect as a general manager in any sport. There will be hits and misses on draft picks and free agency signings but taking a big picture look is important to assess the performance fairly. [Denis] Gurianov goes a long way in this because after looking like he may go on the list of forgettable high draft picks, he really burst onto the scene as a top goal-scorer. There’s also a lot of high-flying talent on the cusp, including [Thomas] Harley, [Jason] Robertson, [Ty] Dellandrea and Oettinger. There have been some finds, such as Joel Kiviranta and perhaps Nick Caamano. Nill has also done a good job in free agency and trades, going all the way back to the Seguin trade in his first few months in Dallas. Looking at the current roster, Khudobin was a bargain signing in 2018 and his recent extension is also team-friendly. Joe Pavelski was the right move over trying to keep Mats Zuccarello, even though acquiring Zuccarello was a good deadline deal in 2019. Nill has managed to build a championship-caliber roster while also making sure the Stars don’t lose anybody essential to Seattle in the expansion draft. His approach as a human being also should not be underrated, either, in how he handled the Jim Montgomery situation as well as his patience and grace with Stephen Johns.
Additionally, he asked some questions to go to how the team gets better, or at least maintains momentum, over the next couple of seasons. Fans had plenty to say about how to shore up the non-Miro Heiskanen parts (re-sign John Klingberg, find a new top-six forward):
I think [Klingberg] is underrated and will probably continue to be as he plays in Dallas because of the special talent that Heiskanen is. Klingberg makes some noticeable blunders because he takes chances, but he’s very good defensively and offensively and runs point on the top power-play unit. He’s under contract for two more years at a $4.25 million AAV. Heiskanen will get his big extension next year. [Gurianov] and Roope Hintz got short deals this offseason, and if they continue to live up to their potential, the possibility of big contracts for them loom, too, which would add to the existing pool of Benn and Seguin. Klingberg will be 30 years old when he hits the market in 2022; who knows what his stock will be like in two years. But unless he’s looking for an astronomically high number, the Stars can and should find a way to keep him in Dallas....
Given the reputation this team has rightfully built over the last few years of lacking offensive firepower, the request to add a top-six forward makes sense. The Stars are also operating under an extremely tight cap and don’t have much room, so it’s unlikely that reinforcements for this season come from outside. Somebody like Jason Robertson would need to explode on the scene to help bolster that group.
There’s more behind the paywall, including some shocking and surprising information on how fans really feel about the Stars’ new jerseys. [The Athletic DFW]
Want to be Secret Santa for someone other than that coworker who steals food from the fridge? The Dallas Stars Elite Girls program has some suggestions.
The DSE Girls program continues to show a rapid trajectory and is considered a premier Girls Hockey Development Program in the country. We rely on the support of the community to continue this growth.— Dallas Stars Elite Girls (@StarsEliteGirls) December 10, 2020
All donations will be put towards cultivating & developing DSE girls hockey. pic.twitter.com/L5Tc8UpBuC
And speaking of Stars youth programs – congratulate a member of the 15 Only team for their championship victory over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.
Around The Leagues
The Stars joined this trend several years ago by hiring Jeff Reese – but the Florida Panthers are the first NHL team to go this big, with a new department led by Roberto Luongo.
Will other teams follow? The Florida Panthers have created a Goaltending Excellence Department, an innovative concept meant to produce a more uniform vision in drafting/developing for the position.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 14, 2020
``It's exciting and it make sense,'' says Roberto Luongo.https://t.co/9jETgOexji
It’s not surprising that a league hurting for revenue is looking for discreet ways to do this. But how will fans react?
Would you believe a junior league has managed to find a safe, consistent way to keep playing hockey? Learn more about how the USHL made it work.
Speaking of prospects, and Derek was...here’s a video of 2020 draft pick Daniel Ljungman’s first SHL goal. Enjoy his net-front work.