I’ve stated before I think Dallas is the most improved team this offseason, and I will discuss why.
Benn – Seguin – Radulov
Roussel – Spezza – Ritchie
McKenzie – Hanzal – Cracknell
Janmark – Faksa – Pitlick
Methot – Klingberg
Lindell – Hamhuis
Honka – Johns
Oleksiak – Nemeth
Dallas had a disappointing season after hitting 50 wins in 2016. Benn had an off year, Spezza took a huge step back, and the defense and goaltending was awful. They finished with 223 goals scored and 262 goals against. I expect them to be much better this season, though.
I’ll start with Jamie Benn. He finished with 26 goals last season after scoring 41 the year before. Let’s say he bounces back and reaches 40 goals. That’s an extra 14 from last season. That would bring them up to 237 goals. Once the Stars lost Cody Eakin to Vegas, they needed another third-line center. On July 1st, the signed Martin Hanzal. While many depth charts have him as the second-line center, I still see Spezza in that spot, whom I will get to in a minute. Hanzal is a solid 20 goal scorer. Eakin, having a bad season himself, scored just 3 goals. That is a possible 17 goal improvement. That would bring Dallas’s goal total to 254.
The Stars also signed Alexander Radulov. The first thing he does is replace the 20 goals that left with the departure of Eaves at the trade deadline. Now, a line with Seguin and Benn could be one of the most lethal in the league, however, you don’t want all your offense coming from one line. Spezza, as mentioned earlier, scored just 15 goals last season. He is getting older and is not the same player he was in Ottawa, but he is only one year removed from a 33 goal season. What I would do is drop Radulov to the second-line. With his playmaking ability, maybe he could help Spezza regain his scoring touch. I think a realistic expectation could be 25 goals from him, which is another 10 goals, adding up to 264.
On defense and in net, there is a huge improvement. The acquisition of Mark Methot is a fantastic addition. He is absolutely a top 2 defenseman. This will reduce Hamhuis’s minutes, which makes Hamhuis a more effective defensemen in the top 4. So both directly and indirectly, Methot helps out the blue line. Of couse, the Stars also acquired Ben Bishop. Now, for his standards, he had a bad year in Tampa and LA. On top of that, he suffered another injury. Let’s say he gets back to the .922 save percentage and 2.3 goals against he’s capable of. If he plays 60 games, that is 138 goals against for the season. Lehtonen, who is very similar to Cam Ward, is now reduced to a backup role, which he will be very solid in. If he plays 22 games, at his 2.75 goals against average, that is about 60 goals against, adding up to 198 overall.
Washington, who had 55 wins last season, scored 263 goals for and allowed 182 goals against. Pittsburgh, with their 50 wins, had 282 goals for and 234 against. With the projected numbers for the Stars, they would be once again a 50-win team and first or second in the Central Division.