Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Dallas Stars
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th 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 – While a new coach will always mean a new style, a new system and repercussions on the production of certain players, it’s the minor personnel changes that jump out in terms of a potential ripple effect. The Stars lose a couple of their stay-at-home depth defensemen which may mean more defensive responsibilities for their offensive blueliners (John Klingberg and Esa Lindell), and that would impact their even-strength numbers.
In Khudobin the Stars now have a backup goalie they can trust. Starter Ben Bishop has been getting injured often over the past couple of seasons and Khudobin shores up the stability. If Bishop misses time this year, Khudobin will slot in without missing a beat.
Ready for full-time – Here is where the Stars improve the most. At this point it looks as though two key prospects will be joining and upgrading the team. Valeri Nichushkin is technically not a prospect as he’s already played a couple of NHL seasons. But he spent the last two in the KHL and now is making his return with a big enough contract ($2.95 million per year, two years) to see to it that he gets a real shot at a second-line spot with power-play time. Be careful not to overrate him as he wasn’t overly productive in the KHL (51 points in 86 games) and his best NHL season was 34 points. He’s two or three years from hitting the kind of production numbers you’re envisioning for him. (Read Nichushkin's scouting profile here)
The other key prospect is defenseman Miro Heiskanen. Last year’s third overall draft pick is considered one of the best prospect defenseman in hockey and he’s deemed by many to be NHL-ready. There’s also room on the roster for him thanks to the departures of Pateryn and Hamhuis. He’ll start off on the third pairing if he makes the team out of camp, and will work his way up to the second pairing. The top pairing is out of reach, at least for this year. (Read Heiskanen's scouting profile here)
Centerman Jason Dickinson is finally ready to make the jump. He’ll have to be, as he must clear waivers in order to be sent to the AHL. Likely destined for a checking-line role even in the long term, he won’t help any fantasy teams this year. (Read Dickinson's scouting profile here)
A long-shot to make the team, and really that will only happen is Heiskanen gets injured or falters, is defenseman Gavin Bayreuther. The former ECAC All-Star from out of St. Lawrence had an impressive rookie-pro campaign for Texas, notching 32 points in 71 games and posting a plus-11.
Dallas Stars prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Stars have a great first line, an average second line, an elite defenseman plus another one on the way. If Bishop can stay healthy then they are strong in goal. But once you remove Heiskanen from the pipeline, the farm system becomes very weak. Forward Ty Dellandrea is a dark horse prospect for the long term, but we won’t know for sure for another couple of years. Right now if a player I own is traded to the Dallas Stars, I have to admit I’d cringe a little bit. Getting on that first line would be gold, but on any other line it will probably hurt now that former star (no pun intended) Jason Spezza is no longer good.
Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was A-)
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