Dallas Stars Way Too Early Report Card

My parents got to look online at my grades any time they wanted. So, it is only fair that we check in on the Stars' player report cards way too early.

What a great start to the season. A fast start was just what the doctor ordered after a troublesome preseason for the Dallas Stars.

Anxiety was high following a preseason full of soft goals against and leaky defending, especially after all of the hoopla of this offseason. The Stars have put those concerns to bed, at least for the time being.

With approximately 8.5 percent of the season in the books it is time to take an early look at the players individually as they've performed for the full three weeks (as opposed to our week-by-week look in Ups/Downs). Who is performing better than expected? As expected? Worse than expected?

Keep in mind with these grades, (1) they will deal in a sphere of actual results related to expectations before the season, (2) only players that have played in a minimum of 4 games shall be graded, (3) a player receiving a "B" has met expectations, but not exceeded them, and (4) these grades are completely subjective and thus should be taken as absolute fact. Let's dive in.


Jamie Benn - A+

What really needs to be said? As of this writing, he is first in goals scored (8), and tied for first in points (12). He scores every night, he crushes people, he is a savage. Capt'n gon' Capt'n I guess. Looks like he wants another Art Ross.

Mattias Janmark - A+

I for one was really excited Janmark made the team. He looked the part in the preseason (one of the few)... but get real. Anyone who said this kid would be playing the minutes he has played at this level of productivity is probably lying. There is an inevitable slump, but the kid's game is more refined than the Stars could have hoped.

Tyler Seguin - A

He waited FOREVER to score his first goal (four games), but he seems to be cooking now. Turns out, he is also tied for the league scoring lead with 12 points (4G 8A). Anyone disappointed with his start to the year hasn't been watching the games. Somehow he got faster this offseason. Which is really silly.

Jason Spezza - A

He has a hat trick (weirdest one ever) and is winning ~58.6 percent of his faceoffs. The secondary scoring everyone expected to come last year is here, with Spezza averaging a point per game. His Corsi of 61.4 percent while putting up numbers is just what the team needed. Hard to focus on 14/91/10 when the second line is this talented. The way Spezza is playing, he would be the undisputed #1 center on a lot of teams.

John Klingberg - B+

Despite a couple of forgettable games, Klingberg is proving that last year was no fluke. He drives possession (PDO 103.0) and keeps it there (Corsi 56.0 percent). His six assists aren't anything to cry about either. John Klingberg is here to stay. This would be an 'A' except for the debacle against the Lightning.

Ales Hemsky - B+

Hemsky has responded well to starting out the year on the third/fourth line. The line of Eakin, Janmark, and Hemsky became one of Lindy Ruff's favorite period-starting lines, and Hemsky had a lot to do with that. Hemsky has posted a 105.3 PDO this season and has generally made good things happen when he is on the ice. Gaining favor with Ruff, he and Spezza look more dangerous every night. He has put up ~19 percent of last years production in 10 percent of the games.

Jason Demers - B+

Demers and Oduya have been a reliable defensive pairing. Demers has started 2/3rds of his shifts in his own end and he is almost an even Corsi player at 48 percent. No pair has more starts in their own end than Demers and Oduya. It has been a great start to the season for the former San Jose Shark.

Radek Faska - B+

Faska has made the most of the Stars injury woes. While his stay in Dallas is probably short term this year, he looks like he belongs on NHL ice. As a rookie, he takes 75 percent of his faceoffs in the defensive zone and wins 53 percent of them. That is incredible from a rookie. This is, of course, a small sample size but Faska has certainly given Stars fans a nice preview of what to expect from him going forward.

Alex Goligoski - B

Goose has been holding down the top pair minutes with John Klingberg. He is essentially a dead even possession player and his zone starts are split almost exactly 50/50 between the offensive and defensive zone. Goligoski is steady and has produced with 4 assists through 8 games. This is about what fans expected from Goligoski, calming veteran play and savvy skating.

Johnny Oduya - B

Solid, boring, minute-eater. Playing 19:32 minutes per night taking an eye-popping 66.7 percent of his starts in the defensive zone, Oduya and his partner have been a machine. Crisp with an intelligent stick, not much is getting by #47.

Jordie Benn - B

The elder Benn has played mostly on the third pairing with the youngster Jyrki Jokipakka. Benn has never blown people away with his offensive gifts, but this year he has been very good at transitioning the team from defense to offense. Lindy Ruff's third pairing was supposed to be a revolving door between Benn, Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak, and Patrik Nemeth. Unfortunately for Oleksiak and Nemeth, Benn and 2pak have not left the door open.

Patrick Sharp - B

Sharp has been slow to the score sheet, although he has set the record for most crossbars and goalie gloves hit without a goal (source needed). He is a willing passer and has shown the ability to get the puck off of his stick quickly. His lack of goal scoring has been nothing more than rotten luck. Defensively, Sharp has been a revelation. He wins loose pucks, he drives possession, and he is crafty on the boards. The little things matter. When the pucks start going in the net, he will join his linemates with an 'A'.

Jyrki Jokipakka - B

Jokipakka did not get the memo that he was supposed to rotate with Oleksiak and Nemeth, and he has held a firm grip on third pairing minutes with Jordie Benn. Jokipakka has continued to improve in every aspect of his game. His passes are crisper than last year, and he continues to methodically get the puck out of the zone on the stick of one of his teammates. He is a 50 percent Corsi player taking more defensive zone draws than offensive (53/47).

Valeri Nichushkin - B

Nichushkin has not had a break out game on the scoresheet, but he continues to improve every game. The scoring will come, but his possession stats are impressive (60 percent Corsi). The turnovers in neutral ice are less often, and he will be a force in this league. Growth is slow, and he is getting some excellent tutoring.

Colton Sceviour - B-

On the line with Radek Faska, Sceviour has been saddled with 75 percent of his zone starts in the defensive end. He has been a negative Corsi player at 43 percent, but he is in a tough position. Sceviour is learning what it is like to be a utility player in the NHL - some nights you play with Jason Spezza but most nights you play on the fourth line. His maturation into his role will be important if he wants to hold onto his spot when Brett Ritchie and Travis Moen are healthy.

Vernon Fiddler - B-

Fiddler is a prime example of a hard nosed hockey player. His mentoring of the kids will be important even if the fans don't see it. He plays hard every night. He doesn't light up the scoreboard, but that is not his role on this team. His 47 percent Corsi is a respectable number considering he start 2 of every 3 shifts in his own end. Fiddler wins 54.2 percent of his faceoffs and will be a key penalty killer for the remainder of the year.

Antoine Roussel - C+

The Stars' resident agitator has been in the highest form this year. He has drawn penalties and generally gotten under the skin of every Stars' opponent. He has been billed as the new-age agitator, one that can actually play hockey. The possession stats and score sheet show that Roussel has work to do. He is certainly not afraid of the grindstone and you can bet his lack of production bothers him more than it does the fans.

Cody Eakin - C+

If you arrive to games early and watch warmups, there is always one player that sticks around for a few more shots. Typically, that guy is Cody Eakin. I remember watching him last year in a warm up paint the corners with Howitzers and thinking to myself, "why doesn't he shoot more?" This year, he has shown more willingness to have a go. His -3 and Corsi of 40.3 percent are concerns. But his dark visor is so cool. C+ is probably a little bit harsh.

Travis Moen - C

Moen has been injured. While this is not his fault, it makes it hard to judge his contribution to the team. Moen was an effective fourth liner for the team when he played, and the team hopes he can return to action soon.


Antti Niemi - B+

Niemi has stolen two games form Pittsburgh. He had a stinker against Colorado and never got his legs under himself in relief of Lehtonen against the Panthers. Those two games against the Penguins though..

Kari Lehtonen - B

In his first three starts, Lehtonen looked like his old self before letting in some brutal goals against Florida. He and Niemi have been what the Stars need from their goalies. Solid.


If your team is 6-2-0, there aren't a whole lot of guys grading very low. The team is humming along. You can nitpick and moan about individual plays about individuals players, but as a whole, the team has looked really good.My parents got to look online at my grades any time they wanted. So, it is only fair that we check in on the Stars' player report cards way too early.