NHL 2014-15 team preview: Dallas Stars

NHL 2014-15 team preview: Dallas Stars
August 7, 2014, 2:30 pm
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(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

As part of our summer series previewing the 2014-15 NHL season, CSNwashington.com is analyzing all 30 NHL teams, division by division. Today we continue with the Western Conference’s Central Division.

Today: DALLAS STARS

2013-14 record: 40-31-11, 91 points

Where they finished: 5th in the Central; 8th in the West; 16th in the NHL

Coach:  Lindy Ruff (2nd season)

Key additions: C Jason Spezza, RW Ales Hemsky, G Anders Lindback, G Jussi Rynnas

Key subtractions: RW Ray Whitney, RW Alex Chiasson, C Dustin Jeffrey, G Tim Thomas,  D Aaron Rome, C Nicholas Paul

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Ales Hemsky

Colton Sceviour – Jason Spezza – Valeri Nichuskin

Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt

Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Erik Cole

Extras: Rich Peverley

Defense

Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon – Jordie Benn

Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar

Extras: Cameron Gaunce

Goaltenders

Kari Lehtonen – Anders Lindback

Our take:  The Stars were the final Western Conference team to get into the playoffs in the West last season and they proved to be a tough first-round opponent for the Anaheim Ducks, falling in six hard-fought games.

With the emergence of young forwards Tyler Seguin [career-high 37 goals and 84 points] and Jamie Benn [career-high 34 goals and 79 points] and the departure of veteran Ray Whitney to free agency, the Stars were looking to add some secondary to their lineup. They did just that with the July 1 acquisition of center Jason Spezza and the signing of free-agent right wing Ales Hemsky.

Spezza [23 goals, 66 points with Ottawa last season] gives Dallas a strong 1-2 punch down the middle, where former Caps prospect Cody Eakin provides quality two-way play on the third line. With Spezza entering the final year of his contract the Stars gave up only one NHL player in the deal, RW Alex Chiasson, and replaced him with Hemsky.

Hemsky recorded 13 goals and 30 assists in Edmonton and Ottawa last season and makes a nice fit on a top line with Benn and Seguin, allowing second-year right wing Valeri Nichuskin [14 goals, 34 points] to play on a second line with Spezza.

The Stars also improved their depth between the pipes with the addition of 6-foot-6 netminder Anders Lindback, who will serve as Kari Lehtonen’s backup.

The Stars are still very ripe on the back end, where 40-year-old veteran Sergei Gonchar anchors a bottom four that includes three defensemen with a combined three full seasons of NHL experience.

Offseason Grade:  B-plus

Will they make the playoffs in 2014-15?  In a very competitive West, they’ll be on the bubble, along with Nashville.