In what is now an established tradition, it is time for my annual bold predictions for the upcoming Dallas Stars season. Three years ago, I failed spectacularly. The next season was better, in that I either did or didn’t succeed on one of my predictions (depending on how you feel about technicalities).
But last year, there was no doubt — I hit a slam dunk home run hat trick touchdown on Prediction #3:
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 [sic].
Time to give myself a pat on the back. Even better, I also got half of the super bold portion of the prediction right — one of the two goalies for closing night was indeed not previously on the roster (thank you, Scott Wedgewood), although Nill didn’t trade for him while both Khudobin and Holtby were healthy and on the roster.
(Side Note: You could also argue that I got Prediction #4 right — Dallas did lead the NHL in most Olympic Medal points among players. Specifically, they tied the other 31 teams with zero. But even if you allowed the questionable technicality of “tied for 1st = leads”, it goes against the spirit of the prediction, so we’ll count it as a miss.)
Now then, this has established a pattern of me being more and more right each season. Might I go full clairvoyant this year and get all of my bold predictions right? Of course not, but that won’t stop me from having fun anyways!
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 Miro Heiskanen wins the Norris Trophy? Tired. Predicting he wins without a single goal scored? Wired.
- Each prediction is independent of one another, but I won’t make any contradictory picks (e.g. Dallas wins the Presidents’ Trophy and Dallas loses all of their games). Combinations that are unlikely yet technically possible, however, are fair game (e.g. Dallas wins the Presidents’ Trophy and Dallas doesn’t win a game in regulation).
- Like last year, each prediction will also have an accompanying SUPER BOLD prediction. These are usually silly and serve only as a reminder that this piece isn’t 100% serious. But if I manage to get one right, I become the new NHL commissioner, which we narrowly avoided last year. I don’t know if that was a good or bad thing./
Alright, enough chit chat — let’s get on with the predictions, from bold to boldest:
Prediction #1: Dallas Leads the League in Goals Scored and Point Differential
For the past several seasons, the Dallas Stars have been a defense-first team, content with winning games 2-1 and, at times, seemingly preferring 1-0 losses to 7-6 wins. This is a philosophy that has extended across three different head coaches, as owner Tom Gaglardi openly pines for a shutdown team like the 1999 Stanley Cup winners.
Well, no more — Pete DeBoer has secretly been staying up late watching 2015-16 highlights, and this year’s Stars will dominate on offense. Not only will we see high point totals from Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski, but also Miro Heiskanen, Tyler Seguin, Wyatt Johnston, and Radek Faksa Mason Marchment.
It doesn’t stop there, however — not only will the Stars lead the league in goals scored, they’ll also lead in point differential, proving to the Stars’ upper brass once and for all that the issue with 15-16 wasn’t the focus on offense, but the lack of quality goaltending.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: The Stars accomplish this all while failing to score a single goal against the Winnipeg Jets. Dread it. Run from it. Bowness still arrives.
Prediction #2: Jim Nill Trades Another 1st Round Pick at the Trade Deadline
Dallas doesn’t trade first round draft picks. Ever.
Okay, that’s an obvious hyperbole, but the overall sentiment remains the same. Excluding trades with conditions that never triggered (see: Mats Zuccarello) and trading up or down in the round on draft day (see: Wyatt Johnston), Dallas has held their first round pick in every draft since 2009. It’s not just a Jim Nill thing — it’s a Dallas thing.
That all changed this offseason, however, with the acquisition of Nils Lundkvist. The Stars gave up their 2023 1st round to the New York Rangers, with the condition that if it ends up being Top 10, Dallas will give up their 2024 1st rounder instead. Either way, it’ll be the first time Dallas has traded away a 1st in over a decade.
Which means it’ll be an even bolder move when Nill does it again. If they’re in a strong spot come trade deadline, Dallas might be looking for the final piece to help them make another deep run. And assuming they don’t want to part with one of their top prospects, the best option for them might be to shell out another first. Expensive, yes, but (potential) trophies last forever.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: The player Dallas trades for is John Klingberg, making all of those “Klingberg will still be a Dallas Star next season” predictions from last year prove (technically) correct.
Prediction #3: Jake Oettinger wins the Hart Trophy
I know these predictions are supposed to be independent of one another, but let’s continue with the theme of Dallas being a (really) good team. In this case, there will be several potential MVP candidates on the roster. Jason Robertson will likely lead the team in scoring, but Roope Hintz might not be far behind. And of course there’s Miro Heiskanen, who is the Stars’ best player and more or less has been since his NHL debut.
But when it comes to top (or at least overachieving) teams, there’s one player who’s name almost always get tossed out as the team’s MVP: the goaltender. After all, the best teams almost always have high-end goaltending, and you could argue that the position is the most important for every team, regardless of talent level or success.
So why not predict Jake Oettinger as the team’s MVP? And to make sure it’s appropriately bold, we’ll give him the Hart Trophy as well, making him the eighth goaltender in NHL history to win the award (9 wins in total) and the first since Carey Price in 2014-15. What started in Calgary will turn out to just be the beginning of a new era in Dallas goaltending.
Side note: in each prior year, my most accurate prediction was goalie related. So go ahead and etch this one in stone.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: Oettinger will win the Hart, but he will not win the Vezina Trophy. Why? I don’t know, NHL GMs are weird about this award.
Prediction #4: Dallas Selects 1st Overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft
We’ve been a bit too positive so far — let’s overcompensate with a swing in the complete opposite direction.
Heading into the season, Dallas is poised to be — as per usual — a playoff bubble team. It wouldn’t be too surprising if they took a step forward into becoming a Top 10 team (or perhaps even better), but a turn in the other direction would be shocking. Barring an influx of injuries a la 2016-17, there’s just too much talent on the roster for the Stars to be mucking it up with the Blackhawks, Coyotes, and Sabres of the world.
And even then, there’s a big difference between “bad” and “picking 1st overall” bad. As a reminder, the worst team in the NHL has only a 25.5% chance of picking 1st. The second worst is 13.5%, third is 11.5%, and the rest are under 10%. Furthermore, teams can’t move more than ten spots up, which means Dallas would have to finish no higher than 11th worst to even have a chance.
Mix in a high number of teams who will be (openly) tanking for Connor Bedard and it’ll be even harder to get higher odds, not to mention any chance of trading for someone else’s pick that then wins the lottery is essentially zero. Look, they’re called bold predictions for a reason.
SUPER BOLD BONUS: Dallas doesn’t pick Bedard 1st overall, but rather Matvei Michkov, who proceeds to stay in the KHL permanently and never plays an NHL game. This was supposed to be a negative prediction, remember?
Before we wrap things up, let’s hear your own predictions, bold or otherwise. Do you think Denis Gurianov finally achieves his true potential under Pete DeBoer? Does Wyatt Johnston do the unthinkable and become the first Star to ever win the Calder Trophy? Will Tyler fail to miss a Daily Links post this season? Comment below!
Now then, it’s time for our fifth and final prediction. This will be the boldest one yet, and certainly not a setup for a subpar joke intentionally designed to make readers as mad as possible like it is every year:
Prediction #5: Dallas Names Ryan Suter Captain
(Stolen shamelessly from ZWal.)
SUPER BOLD BONUS: Dallas doesn’t even strip Jamie Benn of the captaincy — they become the first NHL team to have co-captains.