Dobber's off-season fantasy hockey grades – Dallas Stars
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy hockey standpoint, and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The Stars have $8 million in cap space with Valeri Nichushkin still left to sign, so they could still sign a free agent. But the pickings are slim.
This summer Dallas lost three good, experienced defensemen and replaced them with Hamhuis. Between he and rookie Stephen Johns it will compensate for much of this void, but I worry about the impact on John Klingberg. The star defenseman was able to move forward on the rush at will thanks to his defense partner Goligoski. Will he be able to do the same thing with a new partner? Sure he could. Is that guaranteed? Well, no. And that’s where the nagging tingle at the back of my neck (Spidey sense?) is possibly giving me a warning. Not that a talent like Klingberg is going to go out and get 30 points in 80 games this year. But it would still be a shame if he went from 58 points down to 45, wouldn’t it?
As for the goaltending…you could say that swapping out Goligoski, Demers and Russell for Hamhuis, Johns and Esa Lindell is a downgrade overall and that the goalies will suffer for it…but why say it? The goaltending is terrible. Is this going to somehow make it…more terrible? Come on, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi have been through enough! Lay off! Think about the children!
Ready for full-time – Brett Ritchie probably would have made the team last year were it not for wrist surgery that he had last September that took him out of the lineup until December. He then played for AHL’s Texas for three months, getting back into the swing of things. He had 28 points in 35 games before getting called up in March for eight games with Dallas (one point). He fills out the top nine nicely and by the end of the season we could see him implanted on the second line. I have him for 21 points this season, but that’s a conservative number that could certainly go higher if he gets the right opportunities. (Read up on Ritchie here)
Esa Lindell is a talented puck-moving defenseman who came over from Finland last season and promptly posted 42 points as an AHL rookie. After Klingberg the bottom drops out pretty quickly for Dallas when it comes to offensive defenseman, so the opportunity is there for Lindell to make a quick impact. (Read up on Lindell here)
Stephen Johns is a hulking 6-4, 225-pound defenseman who the Stars got along with Patrick Sharp in one of Chicago’s salary-dump trades. Although in the long run he may be a consistent 25-point, 120-PIM player, the early look at him indicates that he won’t give us much of either during his first several years in the NHL. (Read up on Johns here)
Fantasy Outlook – Dallas is a good team with a great group of skaters and a deep NHL roster. And terrible goaltending. But this team will put a lot of points on the board and have a good list of players worthy of owning in fantasy hockey. The prospects pipeline will leave something to be desired once you remove Ritchie and Lindell from it.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B+)
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