With training camp taking off for the Stars this past weekend in Frisco, a few of the member of our staff got together to discuss some of the most pressing questions heading into this highly anticipated 2019-2020 season.
What are the most intriguing storylines heading into training camp?
Connor: Julius Honka: The former 2014 first round pick has requested a trade, per Jim Nill. The defenseman has only amassed a disappointing two goals and 11 assists in 87 NHL games played dating back to the 2016-2017 season. The quick, puck-moving defenseman became a liability in his own end and regularly seemed to be the odd man out. A lot of his weak play stemmed from looking rushed on the ice, which led to poor breakout passing and an overall disappointing performance. That being said, he is still young with plenty of time to improve for a different team, so the Stars will be looking to shop him around the league for a decent return.
Free Agents: Corey Perry has fractured his foot on a step, which is said to have set him back a few more weeks. Truth be told, a veteran like him missing the very beginning of training camp may be somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Taking a little extra time to make sure the body is healed may turnout to be a good thing come playoff time. Joe Pavelski seems to be settling into his first few days of training camp and enjoying his new surroundings. He told Daryl ‘Razor’ Reaugh that he “wants to get up to speed as fast as (he) can…” and that, “it’s easier to pull you out of your comfort system when you have to go to new teammates, but it’s refreshing at the same time.” That is exciting to hear as a Stars fan. The former San Jose Shark will greatly help with the lack of secondary scoring the Stars dealt with last year. Andrej Sekera was bought out the day before free agency by the Edmonton Oilers, as he was set to make $5.5 million this year. In Sekera’s own words, “I got bought out, Dallas called me, and it took me like five minutes to decide where to go. I’m happy that I made this change and really excited for this season.” With a lot to prove after a couple of big injuries, Sekera may surprise a lot of people in Dallas. He has been paired with Miro Heiskanen on the 2nd D-pairing.
Garrett: For the first time in over a decade, Dallas is a bona fide Stanley Cup contender going into the regular season. Dallas picked up steam and surprised in its last two playoff appearances in the 2015-16 and 2018-19 campaigns, but a Stars team lauded with preseason hype hasn’t taken the ice since the days of Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow and Marty Turco. This franchise does have a history of falling short of expectations, so I believe that their response to this is not only the most intriguing aspect of its season out of the gate, it’s what will decide its season.
Where are the Stars are looking to improve upon from last season?
Connor: Secondary scoring was the Stars’ biggest downfall last year. Tyler Seguin was the team’s only 30+ goal scorer and the team will need to change that to keep up with the new speed of today’s game. Outside of the big three (Radulov, Seguin, and Benn), Radek Faksa was fourth on the team with 15 goals, followed by Miro Heiskanen with 12 goals. Picking up Joe Pavelski, who scored 38 goals last year, should be able to help the Stars with that area of need.
Garrett: Plain and simply put: goal scoring. Dallas scored 209 goals all of last year- 35 below the National Hockey League average. The team really struggled to put the puck in the net in the dog days of the schedule last year until a the acquisition of Mats Zuccarrello, now with Minnesota, in February. His play, along with Dallas improving on the power play at the right time in the playoffs, helped the Stars to an opening-round win. General Manager Jim Nill didn’t ignore this weakness in the offseason- instead, he made it his main priority. The acquisitions of Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski will address that problem. Both are proven scorers and shore up the offensive unit of a team whose defense and goal scoring was already elite.
Will there be any difference between the message of coach Jim Montgomery during this season compared to last?
Connor: With Jim Montgomery’s end of season and playoff success last year, it will be much easier for the team to get behind him. There was a tumultuous stretch midseason where many felt that the team was under performing. At times, the new coach seemed to even question himself. Now coming into this new season, things will be full steam ahead. Landing a few big off season acquisitions, combined with the new found confidence in the team, there should be nothing except strong hope for a positive future on the horizon.
Garrett: Absolutely. Last season, Montgomery made it clear he wanted to break the “Culture of Mediocrity.” When the team struggled at the turn of the new year, he expressed his frustration that he hadn’t done so to that point. But in the second half, especially in March and April, Dallas did break it. The Stars played well when it counted and won a playoff series for the first time since 2016. Now, his message aims to humble his team- who has palpable outside pressure and our attention in DFW.
The Stars have opened their preseason slate with games on both Monday and Tuesday this week. Check back with us at Dallas Sports Fanatic as we look to provide you great Stars coverage and photos all season long.
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