Expectations were high for the Dallas Stars after surprising everyone last season with their run to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, the team ran into a Coivid-19 outbreak at the start of the season, and more games ended up being rescheduled due to ice storms. On top of those bumps came the injuries, major and minor, which plagued the team throughout the season. Despite the difficulties they faced, the Stars trudged on through the season, trying their best, but it wasn’t good enough. They finished with 60 points, which was only four points behind the Nashville Predators, who took the final playoff spot in the division.
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By the Numbers
Power Play: 23.6 percent (fifth in the league)
Penalty Kill: 79.1 percent (19th in the league)
Goals For: 158
Goals Against: 154
One player was a key contributor to the Stars’ success throughout the season, and that player was Joe Pavelski. In his second season with the Stars, the 36-year-old forward is a leader on the team who scored 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists). It’s obvious he a great goalscorer, but his ability to find the puck and put it where it belongs helped the Stars in multiple games this season.
The penalty kills. It was a massive problem in the playoffs last season, and the issue spilled over into this season. It was one more symptom of a season full of challenges. To be a playoff contender next season, getting the puck out of their end and minimizing takeaways are essential to not letting opponents score.
Behind the Bench Analysis
Rick Bowness has yet to coach a full season, but despite that, the Stars have been able to control the play on the ice. They’ve not been so great at finishing. Bowness took what he was given this season and turned it into a team who missed the playoffs by only a few points. He had the team prepared for each game, despite the adversities, including 11 weeks without a team practice. Bowness deserves a whole season without disruptions, injuries, or other surprises to get the Stars back in the playoffs.
Front Office Analysis
Jim Nill made no significant moves before the season. It appeared he had the team he wanted to go forward with for the season. He signed several players to their entry-level contracts during the season and claimed defenseman Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. Nill also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract. He made the right moves for the Stars, letting the current players show everyone why he believed in them.
2021 NHL Entry Draft Picks/Prognosis
The Stars have seven picks overall in the draft, and for the first round, they have a 1.4 percent chance to pick first overall. Due to Covid-19, scouting was limited, so there’s not a high chance the Stars would try to move for any particular player. Nill didn’t draft any defensemen in the 2020 draft, so there may be one he has his eye on. We’ll know more once the expansion draft takes place for the Seattle Kraken and the draft lottery is completed.
Offseason Wish/Checklist & Prognosis for 2021-2022
Nill has a lot of decisions to make with players who will become free agents. Players such as Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau, and Vatanen will be unrestricted free agents, while Miro Heiskanen will be a restricted free agent. The Stars will more than likely offer Heiskanen a contract extension. It remains to be seen how they will replace unrestricted free agents who decide to leave. They have quite a few players looking to make the team, but the Stars need to find more players who will finish and score. The outlook is good for the Stars for the 2021-2022 season if no more misfortunes befall them. A few more pieces need to be fit in, and they’ll be back in the playoffs vying for the Stanley Cup.
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