Dallas Stars Impact Player Rankings #5: Ales Hemsky

With the Stars seemingly leaning on an "good offense as the best defense" mentality for the upcoming season, Hemsky will give the Stars another weapon in the gun for the lethal-looking top six.

Last season the Dallas Stars enjoyed a rather successful season and a postseason berth thanks in large part to the addition of center Tyler Seguin, and the suddenly-potent top line became one of the best in all of hockey. Yet the Stars were clearly still missing some firepower to help balance out the overall team attack and just an hour after trading for center Jason Spezza, the team announced the signing of veteran winger Ales Hemsky.

Suddenly, the Stars had a true second-line center and at the same time the scoring/play-making winger the team had sorely been lacking in 2013-14. Hemsky comes to Dallas as a formerly prolific winger with the Edmonton Oilers before injury and organizational factors slowed down production before he was eventually traded to Ottawa.

It certainly seems as though Hemsky was a player truly in need of a change of scenery, as he teamed up with Spezza to quickly regain his scoring touch in a rather productive 20 games at the end of last season. What he now brings to Dallas is actually rather unclear, compared to what the team and fans are hoping he'll provide with the victory green on his back.

Stars fans are rather familiar with Hemsky from his long career in Edmonton, but there isn't a clear consensus on just what sort of player he was during his time there. Some fans lament how the team was never able to truly take advantage of his skills while others are upset he never lived up to expectations; the media in Canada turned on a player not much into talking to the microphone and spread the narrative of a player that was lazy, wouldn't backcheck, didn't try that hard and therefore wasn't worthwhile.

In fact, Stars fans probably most remember Hemsky for this play:

In Dallas, Hemsky will be able to hit the ice without the pressures of the past on his shoulders and can have the freedom of being a complimentary part to what should be a rather powerful Stars offense -- which seems counter-intuitive to his placement this high on our impact rankings.

Hemsky's presence gives the Stars not just the secondary firepower they've needed but also the flexibility to really find the right combination that works for this team on the top six -- not just a matter of "who gets to play next to Seguin and Benn this game?"

The initial reaction to Hemsky's signing was that he was coming to Dallas to reunite in his brief bromance with Spezza from Ottawa, but word is the Stars signed Hemsky with the primary plan of slotting him next to Benn and Seguin on the top line. If he is able to work well with the dynamic duo as is hoped, that frees up all sorts of possibilities and depth on the second line and creates what could be the most productive line in hockey.

How Hemsky will handle this rather sudden transition in his career will be interesting to see and his impact on this team over the next several years can be rather significant; there's also the question of his health and whether he'll finally shake his history of not being able to play full seasons.