Two years ago, I made some bold predictions for the Dallas Stars’ 2019-20 NHL season. I failed miserably, so naturally I tried again last season. That time, I actually got one of my predictions right... kind of. I predicted Jake Oettinger to outperform Anton Khudobin in four different statistics, but he went 2-0-1. I didn't consider the possibility of a tie, which means I was either right in spirit (he outperformed Khudobin) or wrong on technicality (he was only better in two statistics).
So this year, let’s try again and hope for a clear, indisputable correct prediction. Before we begin, let’s go over the ground rules:
- These aren’t just bold predictions — they’re bold predictions. Predicting that Tyler Seguin leads the team in scoring isn’t bold. But predicting that he does so with less than 50% games played? Now that would be bold.
- Each prediction is independent of one another, but I won’t make any contradictory picks (e.g. Dallas finishes last in the Central and Jason Robertson wins the Conn Smythe). Combinations that are unlikely but still technically possible, however, are fair game (e.g. Dallas finishes last in the Central and Jason Robertson wins the Hart Trophy).
- Finally, new this year is that each prediction will also get a SUPER BOLD prediction, which serves as a bonus on top of the regular prediction. These will mostly be silly and comedic in nature, to further drive home that this is only a semi-serious piece. But if I manage to get one right, I become the new NHL commissioner. Sorry, Gary Bettman — that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
Without further adieu, here are five bold predictions for the 2021-21 Dallas Stars season, from most to least likely.
Prediction #1: Miro Heiskanen wins the Norris Trophy... With 90% of the Vote
Despite being a borderline Top 5 defenseman in the NHL, Heiskanen has only received 3 Norris votes in his three year career: a 4th and a 5th in 2019-20 that was good for T-12 (one spot behind teammate Esa Lindell, who had a 3rd). Furthermore, no Stars player has won a major individual award by vote since Jere Lehtinen’s third Selke Trophy in 2002-03.
So predicting Heiskanen to win the Norris is arguably bold. But is it bold? I say we spice it up by saying he runs away with it, receiving at least 90% of the vote point total. That’s only happened twice in the salary cap era, once by Nicklas Lindstrom in 2007-08 (97.99%) and Mark Giordano in 2018-19 (98.83%).
Given Heiskanen isn’t even on the Stars’ top power play unit, the odds of this happening are slim. But if the Stars realize their full potential this season, Heiskanen will almost certainly be leading the charge. That will grab the attention of PHWA voters who were already put on notice during the team’s 2019-20 Stanley Cup run.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: Heiskanen finishes with more points (and points-per-game) than runner-up Cale Makar. Some #fancystats guru then writes a 2,000+ word article about how Makar scoring less points in a higher-scoring system is actually more impressive than Heiskanen’s performance and that Makar was robbed.
Prediction #2: The Stars Finish in the Bottom Fourth of the NHL
Remember that blurb about how predictions couldn’t be contradictory, but they could be unlikely combinations? Yeah, that’s this.
Last year, one of my predictions was that the Dallas Stars would win the Stanley Cup. But a slew of injuries (as well as COVID-19 outbreaks and a certain winter storm) kept them squarely out of a playoff spot for most of the year. But this season, a (mostly) healthy roster with several budding stars proves to be a force to be reckoned with, right?
Yes, unless the injury bug returns, affecting Hintz, Seguin, Radulov, and several others. Or the Stars are subjected to bad goaltending a la the pre-Ben Bishop days. Maybe old age catches up to the likes of Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson has a sophomore slump, and Denis Gurianov reverts to pre-breakout performance. John Klingberg could be traded by the new year, and Jamie Benn could be stripped of the captaincy in favor of Luke Glendening.
Okay, that last one was just silly, but you get the picture: for all the feel good, positive vibes heading into the season, it’s not hard to imagine the Stars tail-spinning to their worst finish since 2016-17. It’s unlikely to be that bad, but that’s why it’s bold.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: The Stars finish last in the NHL, but are passed over in the NHL Draft lottery by the Buffalo Sabres and the Minnesota Wild. At least they still have the Stanley Cup win to remember fondly.
Prediction #3: Neither Braden Holtby nor Anton Khudobin Dress for the Regular Season Finale
The Stars’ goaltending logjam has been resolved... for now, Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin are on the NHL roster, while Jake Oettinger was sent back to the AHL and Ben Bishop was placed on LTIR.
It won’t be at all a surprise if one of those two goaltenders is not on the active roster by the end of the season, whether it be due to injuries, trade, or performance. But what if neither are? Maybe Dallas gets hit with a rush of goaltending injuries late in the season? Or perhaps one is traded due to Bishop returning, and then the other is placed under COVID-19 protocol?
I can’t guarantee the reason, but I will speak with absolute certainty that neither Khudobin nor Holtby will dress for the Stars’ final regular season game. Also note that I am specifying the Stars’ final regular season game, not their 82nd game — I learned from the statistical tie debackle.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: One of the two active goalies for the Stars on that game is someone not currently employed by the team. What’s more, they’ll be acquired while Khudobin and Holtby are both on the NHL roster and healthy — it turns out that Jim Nill just really likes acquiring goaltenders.
Prediction #4: Dallas Leads the NHL in most Olympic Medal Points Among Players
Okay, this one is kind of cheating, as it technically has nothing to do with the Dallas Stars’ 2021-22 season. But the NHL is finally returning to the Olympics, and hockey gods forbid if I’m not going to write about it!
Since the Stars aren’t competing in the Olympics themselves (unless you count Team Finland), I’m going to instead focus on the individual players. Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, and Esa Lindell are all locks for the aforementioned Team Finland, with Joel Kiviranta and Jani Hakanpää both possible options. Andrej Sekera has already been named to Team Slovakia, and John Klingberg might as well be for Sweden, plus Radek Faksa for the Czech Republic. And Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski are near-locks for Team ROC and USA, while Denis Gurianov and Jason Robertson could also sneak in with strong starts to the season.
So the Stars should be well represented in Beijing. But will that translate to Olympic medals? I think depth will help the Stars come out on top, with Stars players taking home the most “points” for medals earned (where Gold = 3, Silver = 2, and Bronze = 1). The best bet in this is a Finnish Gold finish (pun intended), with the biggest obstacle being a Team Canada that will likely have no Dallas players on the roster.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: The final Olympic standings are sorted by most Dallas players on the team, meaning Canada (presumably) finishes somewhere around 7th or below. The country renounces hockey as their national sport due to this embarrassment, instead diverting funding for youth programs into curling.
As always, let’s take a quick break before our final prediction for a reminder to
drink your Ovaltine comment below. Will any of these predictions actually come true? Do you have even bolder predictions about the Stars’ season? Are you tired of Tyler making extremely unrealistic predictions every season and want him to make some real content for a change? Type away!
Now then, here it is: the boldest, most unfathomable prediction you have ever seen. So unlikely, so borderline impossible that the world itself might collapse should it come true:
Prediction #5: A Dallas Star Wins the Calder Trophy
Yeah, right — as if that could ever happen.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: It’s Adam Scheel.