Photo credit: Jae S. Lee
Two seasons ago, the Dallas Stars finished the Western Conference with the best record in the NHL. This past season wasn’t so great for the team. Blame injuries, coaching, defense or whatever and the results were less than stellar. It would have been easy for upper management to look at the injuries and decide they are going to stay put and not make many moves.
This isn’t what the Stars did, though. Immediately Jim Nill went to work. As soon as the season was over, the Stars announced they would not bring head coach Lindy Ruff back. Four days later, it was announced they were bringing back Ken Hitchcock to be the head coach. Obviously most fans were ecstatic with this since Hitchcock was the coach that helped bring the Stanley Cup to Texas.
It was about a month later, Nill announced the Stars had traded for the negotiating rights with goalie Ben Bishop. Three days later, the Stars announced they had reached a six-year deal with the 30 year old goalie. This was huge considering all the problems Dallas had last year in goal. The Stars had to use both goalies last season way too much. This includes using both goalies in the same game because the starting goalie gave up too many goals.
Bishop is 6′-7″ tall and he brings a 2.49 GAA (Goals against average) to Dallas along with a save percentage of .900. In the playoffs, Bishop has been even better as he boasts a 2.09 GAA and a save percentage of .927. This is exactly the type of goaltending Dallas needs.
It wasn’t just the goalies fault, though. The Stars defense in front of the two goalies was pretty bad all season. Nill has addressed that as well. With the third pick of the draft, the Stars selected 17 year old defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who many believe was the best defenseman in the draft.
Then, earlier this week, the Stars made another trade. This time they went after veteran defenseman Marc Methot. Methot was drafted by the expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Stars then were able to generate a trade with the Knights for Methot. Methot seems to be a savvy defenseman with his head screwed on straight. Last season with Ottawa, Methot only had 24 penalty minutes in 68 games.
All of these moves have happened before free agency has started for the NHL. It will be interesting to see how that effects this team as well. My suspicion is that Nill and his team are going to be actively trying to add new pieces to their team. With this offense and the addition of the these new pieces, the Stars should return to the playoffs this season. Obviously time will tell but I think Stars’ fans should be feeling extremely optimistic right now.
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