Dallas Stars 2014 Impact Player Rankings #8 - Brenden Dillon

Still without a contract, Brenden Dillon nevertheless figures as an integral part of the Stars blueline. Just hurry up and sign already Brenden...

How important is Brenden Dillon to the Dallas Stars?

After sustaining an injury in the playoff-clinching game against St. Louis last season, Dillon was forced to miss the first four games of the playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks. Four games in which the Stars played the Ducks to a draw, holding serve at home and taking the series back to Anaheim level at two wins apiece. Dillon then rejoined the Stars in time for the mild implosion that was Game 5, and played his second career NHL playoff game as the Stars bowed out in Game 6.

Easy to see who was dragging the team down.

Which is why Brenden Dillon remains without a contract and... Right. I'm gonna abandon that narrative angle right here. Take 2:

How important is Brenden Dillon to the Dallas Stars?

Consider that prior to last season, with only 48 games of a lockout shortened season under his belt, wait, no, 49, as he did have a sip of a cup of coffee in 2011-12, Dillon was already the number 8 player on DBD's impact rankings and projected as a future star on the blueline. Projections which included this hilarious prognostication from Mike Heika, speculating that Dillon could play with Sergei Gonchar as the team's No. 1 pairing at even strength. *David wipes a tear from his eye* That Mike, such a kidder.

What did happen is that Dillon began the season as a shutdown pairing with his mentor Stephane Robidas, and played as such until Robi's injury. At which point he went from "top-pairing shutdown defenseman" to "all around useful guy". Not that I believe fancy stats tells us anything at all useful about a hockey player, but at even strength Dillon posted positive possession numbers, despite 52.3% defensive zone starts and a sub-average useless stat PDO.

So what will we see out of Brenden Dillon this year? Odds are good that he'll open the season as the second pairing with everyone's favourite Benn brother, but it's also possible some juggling occurs to strengthen the blueline. For instance, we might see him play with Gonchar as Mike Heika's fabled No. 1 defense pairing, or he could be paired with one of the young guys coming up, be it Patrik Nemeth or any other name from that long list of defensive prospects we're looking forward to seeing play during the pre-season. Seeing as how Dillon now has 129 games of NHL regular season experience, and two playoff games, he could easily become the veteran - relatively speaking - presence on a pairing with one of the rookies. And we can go ahead and pencil him in for a couple minutes of shorthanded time per game. I mean, who else is going to score shorthanded goals for the Stars?

Until training camp arrives though, we won't know exactly how it's going to shake out. And that's another big thing. Contract negotiations are still ongoing at this point, and of course, holding out from training camp is one of the only forms of leverage Dillon has. And camp is rapidly approaching. So there's a good chance training camp will come and go and we still won't know exactly how it's going to shake out. Said all that to say this:

How important is Brenden Dillon to the Dallas Stars?

Let's just say I'll sleep a lot easier when that contract is done.