What Might The Dallas Stars' Roster Look Like In Five Years?
The Stars currently have a plethora of young talent, both in the NHL already and coming up the prospect ranks. Let's take a look at how their future lineup could potentially shake out
By this point in time, it's no secret that the Dallas Stars have a bright future ahead of them.
Last season eyes from all around the NHL shifted their gazes over to Dallas for the first time in a long time, and it's understandable to see why. With a then-21 year-old Tyler Seguin and a then-24 year-old Jamie Benn tearing up the league's scoring ranks, finishing 4th and tied for 8th, respectively, it was hard to not pay attention to the Stars. Here was a team that was exciting, young, and only getting better.
Let me repeat that last part: and only getting better.
While Seguin and Benn undoubtedly led the charge for the Stars, other young players such as Valeri Nichushkin, Brenden Dillon, Cody Eakin, and Antoine Roussel also played key roles in helping the Stars reach the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, and take the Western Conference champion Anaheim Ducks to six games in the opening round. With all of these players being either 25 or younger, it stands to reasons that all of them might still have their best NHL years ahead of them.
Going outside the NHL, the Stars also have one of the league's top prospect pools, boasting a wealth of talent and depth. Hockey's Future currently ranks the Stars 9th out of the 30 teams. Combine the young talent already on the team with the prospects currently developing in the system and the Stars appear to be an organization with a massive amount of potential.
All of this naturally begs the question: what might this team actually look like in the future?
Last summer I asked that exact same question, and wrote this article to illustrate what I thought might be the answer, laying out a lineup featuring Dallas' top young players. Since the Stars have grown and changed a lot within the last year, I've decided to update that lineup again now.
Essentially, the point of this thought exercise is to fully examine and analyze the young depth of the Stars organization, to see which areas the team is strong in, and which others might need some work heading into the future.
To help illustrate things, I've placed each player at specific positions in the possible future lineup. For example, Jamie Benn, as can be seen below, is listed as the left wing on the first line. That's the role he played last season, and it is unlikely that he will be usurped from that role by any of the left wing prospects currently behind him in the system.
Guidelines and Disclaimers:
- The time frame for this exercise is five years from now. This allows me to include players currently playing for the Dallas Stars, as well prospects within the system that might be NHL-ready by then.
- Players must be either on the Dallas Stars, the Texas Stars, or have their rights otherwise held by the organization. I'm not including any possible trade or free agent acquisitions, however likely.
- To avoid complexity, I've left out cap space considerations. It's too tricky to say what the cap will be by then, and what contracts most of these players will be signed to.
- Younger prospects will be penciled into the lineup based on their projected potential. For example, Devin Shore has the potential to be a second-line center for the Stars in the future, but will not be on the team this year.
- Players must be 25 years old or younger to be included.
- This is the biggest one: this roster is NOT set in stone, and is of course subject to change over time. Some players will undoubtedly be traded, leave via free agency, or simply never pan out to their projected potential.
- This whole exercise is meant to spawn analysis and debate, but like everything prospect-related, needs to always be kept in the proper context and taken with a grain of salt.
- This is strictly my opinion on each player's projection. Other writers here at Defending Big D might lay things out in different ways./
Without further ado, let's take a look and see how things shake out:
Honorable mentions: Brett Pollock, Remi Elie, Matej Stransky, Cole Ully, Brendan Ranford, Branden Troock, Justin Dowling, Gemel Smith
Honorable mentions: Ludwig Bystrom, Jyrki Jokipakka, Kevin Connauton, Esa Lindell, Dmitry Sinitsyn, Alex Peters, Michael Prapavessis
Thoughts And Observations:
- First of all, depth. Dallas' total prospect depth is very, very impressive. All of the players in the "honorable mentions" section have NHL potential, but didn't make any of the forward lines or defense pairings because there was simply no room for them. It could be an interesting predicament (albeit a very good one to have) in the future if the Stars have a surplus of players that deserve to be in the NHL but there isn't enough room for them.
- Overall, the Stars have a great balance at forward. There's not one single area (speed, scoring, passing, size, checking, shutdown, etc.) that appears to be a glaring weakness at the moment.
- The top of line Benn, Seguin and Nichushkin was the easiest to pencil in, considering their chemistry together last season. But given their playing styles, the argument could be made for putting Ritchie up there on the right side instead of Nichushkin.
- The projected second line doesn't have a single game of NHL experience to their credit, which is a concern, but all three players had strong seasons in their respective leagues last year. There has been talk that Ritchie might already be ready for a second line job in the NHL as soon as next season.
- With so many natural centers, both Dickinson and Eakin could be the best fits to move over to the wing. Dickinson has played left wing regularly in the OHL, while Eakin's playing style might lend itself better to the wing instead of center. It's always beneficial to have more than four forwards that can play up the middle, if the need arises.
- The defense could probably be shuffled around in a variety of different ways. Is Klingberg better than Honka? Will Oleksiak have a higher ceiling than Dillon? Considering all of these players seem to be very close in their abilities it's difficult to predict how each separate pairing will develop.
- That being said, the Stars' system still seems to lack a true number one defencemen. However, those six names create a very interesting sum of their parts. There is speed and size, puck-moving and toughness, North American upbringing and European upbringing. What they lack in elite talent they might be able to make up for in total balance.
- I included Niklass Hansson as the sixth defenceman primarily because he's a right-handed shot, which perfectly balances out the group. Bystrom, Connauton and Jokipakka might all ended up being better players, but they all shoot left. Hansson is often forgotten in prospect talk since he is young and plays in Sweden, but his production so far is comparable, or better, than most of the other similarly-styled defencemen in the system when they were the same age.
- Campbell and Desrosiers are both unproven, but each have accomplished a lot so far in their young careers. Their head-to-head competition might be one of the top prospect stories to follow in the coming years./
What does your future Dallas Stars roster look like? Feel free to share in the comments below.