Dallas Stars Roster Watch: Halfway to Where, Exactly?
With a solid week off, it's time to reflect on the performance of our favorite Stars players to-date. They can't all be bums... or can they?
Hey, look, a summative! While our Dallas Stars enjoy a little time off, the break gives us an opportunity to examine how things have gone across the course of the entire season. Spoiler alert: good, then bad, then really bad, then really good, then kinda bad, now good-ish. As you might expect from a team clinging to life at the lower reaches of the Western Conference playoff picture, there have been some standouts, and some duds.
Tyler Seguin (46 GP / 28 G / 52 Pts) - But does he backcheck? Ha, nah, I'm just kidding. Tyler Seguin's entire job is to generate goals. Guess what, he does that. A ton. There's the whole leading-the-NHL-in-goals thing, but did you know Seguin also places a healthy third on the team in assists (24). Because I have to scratch an itch, Seguins 100.8 PDO argues against the notion any of this is luck.
Jason Spezza (46 GP / 34 Pts / 54 FoW%) - On the surface, third in the team in scoring (behind Jamie Benn and Seguin) is about what you would expect from Spezza. Plus, he's won more faceoffs than anybody on the roster (369). Make no mistake, Spezza's overall contributions keep him up. I just wish I felt a little better about it.
Jamie Benn (46 GP / 27 A / 69 H) - Another slam-dunk up. Second on the team in scoring (40 pts), same in goals (13), and the same again in scoring chances (152). I'd like to see the goal total creep a bit higher. If the Stars are going to bully their way into the playoffs, Jamie is going to have to be the guy that drags them. This space says he's up to the task.
John Klingberg (32 GP / 18 Pts / 56 CF%) - Where have you been all my life, John Klingberg? Since joining the Dallas Stars, Klingberg has been outstanding. The poised young blueliner has helped solidify a defense that has improved drastically from the dark days of October/November. Among Dallas defenders, only Alex Goligoski has more than Klingberg's eight primary assists, and only Trevor Daley has more than his six goals. Want something to worry about at night? The 75 hits Klingberg has taken are good for second on the team.
Jason Demers (26 GP / 38 H / 46.4 OZS%) - The Stars have been better since they acquired Demers. Coach Ruff is clearly comfortable using Demers quite a bit (19:05 ATOI) though not a ton on special teams (1:39 APPTOI / 1:35 ASHTOI). That's just fine. I'll take about a period's worth of solid play each and every night.
Erik Cole (44 GP / 12 G / 102 H) - At the start of the season, I pegged Cole as a point of major importance for Dallas' offense. By the quarter pole (23 GP / 8 Pts) I looked a little silly. Then Cole got hot (21 GP / 15 Pts). I still look silly, but at least I've accepted who Erik Cole is for this team. The depth around him makes Cole's periodic bursts of scoring hugely valuable. Here's hoping the injury isn't dire.
Shawn Horcoff (42 GP / 12:24 ATOI / +2 Goal Differential) - Meet Shawn Horcoff, valuable NHL player. There's nothing flashy about six goals and 17 points. Nor do 47 shots on goal represent the work of an offensive dynamo. Look at Horcoff's line and you'll see he does just about everything well. Some nights, that means single-digit minutes. Other nights, he's brushed against 20. It's great to have him.
Alex Goligoski (44 GP / 23 Pts / 52.1 CF%) - Quietly leading the Dallas blueline in scoring, or we could just say quietly leading the Dallas blueline. Goligoski's 23:45 ATOI trails only Trevor Daley, and by a single second. Goose starts more frequently than any other defender in the Stars' zone (45.2 OZS%), but still manages to be a positive possession player. If you like old school, his +6 rating trails only John Klingberg. Without him, things would be worse, much worse.
Cody Eakin (43 GP / 49.2 FoW% / 46.5 OZS%) - Eakin has become something of a Mr. Fix-It for the Dallas Stars. Sometimes he adds energy to the Benn/Seguin unit. Other times he partners with Roussel and Garbutt to form an effective checking unit. He plays on the penalty kill, also on the power play. Eakin's role reminds me of how the Stars used to deploy Jere Lehtinen.
Trevor Daley (43 GP / 11 G / 46 CF%) - Leads the Stars in ice time (23:47) and the defense in goals. Trevor is a good reminder that value can be defined in a bunch of different ways. No, he isn't a lock down, possession monster, but that doesn't mean Trevor Daley isn't an asset.
Vernon Fiddler (44 GP / 52 FoW% / 33.9 OZS%) - Vern gets all the crap minutes. Despite that, he's somehow managed to carve out six goals and 15 points this season. More importantly, he puts his team on the power play. Fiddler has drawn 20 penalties so far this season, and taken only seven. That's superb.
Ales Hemsky (46 GP / 7 G / 11 A) - Robert made an excellent point about Hemsky in this week's podcast. Namely, at 18 points in 46 games, isn't this the player we expected? That doesn't mean Stars fans have to be thrilled about how the first half has gone. Twelve of those 18 points have come since the start of December, that's a big step forward, but Hemsky will need to keep up the pace to overcome his brutal start.
Colton Sceviour (40 GP / 15 Pts / 12:52 ATOI) - Another member of the slow-starters club. Sceviour had three points in 20 games at the start of December, not one of which was a goal. Since then, he's dialed up the offense to the tune of 12 points in 20 games. That's respectable, and could improve further if Sceviour continues to see time in the top six.
Curtis McKenzie (14 GP / 1 G / 1 Pt) - McKenzie has been (justifiably) returned to the Texas Stars. That's not necessarily a bad thing, he is still a prospect. His questions are longer term. Is McKenzie the guy we saw as AHL Rookie of the Year, does he profile more as a bottom six stalwart, or not at all? Neither of the first two are bad things, by the way.
Kari Lehtonen (39 GP / .904 SV% / 2.98 GAA) - Brutal as it sounds, you can trace a lot of Dallas' struggles this season back to the blue paint. There have been glimpses, but for the most part, the excellence and consistency that have been traditional hallmarks of Lehtonen's game have been missing this season. Right now, goaltending is the difference between Dallas and a playoff team.
Anders Lindback (9 GP / .875 SV% / 3.79 GAA) - Everything I said about Lehtonen also applies to Lindback. When called upon, he's been unable to lift his team. As a consequence, the Stars have been unable to spell Lehtonen for any significant period of time.
Jordie Benn (41 GP / 52.2 CF% / -15 Goal Differential) - The raw data tells you Jordie Benn is a perfectly competent NHL defender. The eye test... politely disagrees. It's like Jordie has spent the season skating under a cloud. Still, there's a lot to like if he can just control the mental lapses.
Jamie Oleksiak (31 GP / 13:15 ATOI / -48.5 CF%) - He's not there, yet. There have been very strong games (Oleksiak set a career high with three assists against Minnesota0, but they've been set against two separate trips back to Cedar Park (I'm not counting the pre-ASG roster shuffle). A strong second half would go a long way to quieting the growing (and premature) chorus of "bust!"
Travis Moen (34 GP / 1 G / 9:12 ATOI) - A depth player doing depth player things. Moen will be one of the players under pressure whenever Patrick Eaves is ready to rejoin the lineup.
David Schlemko (2 GP) - Schlemko has yet to really feature for the Stars.
Antoine Roussel (46 GP / 22 Pts / 88 PIMs) - Roussel is currently projecting to finish just south of 40 points. That would represent a full 10 point improvement versus last season (81 GP / 29 Pts), and an important evolutionary step. The coaches seem to think so, as his usage has increased from an average of 13:20 last season to 15:22 this season. Those same coaches, however, would probably love to see a little more restraint. Roussel enters the All Star Break having taken eight more penalties than he's drawn.
Ryan Garbutt (38 GP / 7 G / 30 PIMs) - As discussed earlier this week (plug!) it has now been 15 games since Garbutt's last disciplinary incident. In the meantime, he's picked up right where he left off before the first suspension. Those suspensions aside, Garbutt has taken 14 penalties this season, and drawn 15. He's still on probation, but things are fine at the moment.
On the Shelf
Brett Ritchie (8 GP / 3 G / 99 PDO) - I included his PDO to illustrate that, while blistering, Ritchie's start is not a Chiasson 2.0 situation. Yes, his shooting percentage will likely fall a bit (14.3%), but not so much we should doubt Ritchie as a serious offensive threat. That is, of course, if he can stay healthy. Injuries were an issue with the Texas Stars, and here he is again on the IR. Time will tell.
Patrick Eaves (19 GP / 11:09 ATOI / 8 Pts) - Will Eaves even recognize the team he's reportedly set to rejoin?
Valeri Nuchushkin (4 GP) - Get well soon, Val. Sometimes, on bad days, I imagine the impact Nichushkin could have in this offense.
Patrick Nemeth (5 GP) - Get well soon, Mr. Nemeth.