Our look at the Pacific Division takes us to the Lone Star State as we take a look at the Dallas Stars.
Dallas was just one game away from making the playoffs last season, but this year when fans come to see them play, it will be an entirely different team on and off the ice.
The differences start behind the bench, as Glen Gulutzan has taken over the duties as head coach. Gulutzan last coached the Texas Stars, the minor league affiliate to the Dallas Stars. He lead the Texas Stars to a Calder Cup final and a Western Division final in his 2 years behind the bench.
The biggest change fans will notice on the ice is the absence of Mike Richards, who left the Stars for the bright lights of New York via free agency. Mike Ribeiro will be called upon to assume the number 1 center duties this upcoming year and will be more than up to the task. The question though is who will be the number 2 center? New addition, Vernon Fiddler will likely be the third line center and anchor their checking line, but no clear answer for the number 2 spot has become known.
The Stars also lost Jamie Langenbrunner, Karlis Skrastins, Jason Williams, and Jeff Woywitka this offseason. The Dallas front office was busy filling their holes however, as they added Eric Godard, Adam Pardy, Sheldon Souray, Radek Dvorak, Jake Dowell, and Michael Ryder.
Michael Ryder will likely join Brenden Morrow on the number one line in Dallas. Ryder had 41 points last year and 18 goals. In the playoffs he amassed 17 points in 25 games and was a big part of Boston’s Stanley Cup victory. Dallas hopes his playoff experience will help the Stars in the dog days near the end of the season.
Sheldon Souray will look for a rebound season after spending last year in the AHL. Souray was once an all-star, but at 35 has lost the hop in his step. Dallas fans hope Souray can regain the skill of his youth and become an anchor on their defensive line.
The Dallas Stars were on the cusp of making the playoffs last season, and made big changes this off season. Only time will tell if their changes will pay off, but if the Stars align fans in Dallas might see this team in the playoffs.