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  • KNOW YOUR ENEMY: 2017-18 Central Division Preview -- Dallas Stars

    Giles Ferrell

    Dallas Stars
    Head Coach: Ken Hitchcock (eighth season with DAL, first since 2001-02)
    Arena: American Airlines Center
    2016-17 Record: 34-37-11, 79 points (sixth in Central Division)
    2016-17 Record vs MIN: 1-3-1
    Top Scorer: Tyler Seguin (26 goals-46 assists-72 points
    Top Goaltender: Kari Lehtonen (22-25-7, 2.85 Goals Against Average, .902 Save Percentage, 3 Shutouts)

    2016-17 Recap:

    Dallas opened 2016-17 as the defending Central Division champions, and they never really were in the hunt to repeat. Much like the year before, Dallas was not strong on defense or in goal, and the drop in goal scoring (267 goals in 2015-16 to 223 in 2016-17) lead to the lackluster finish. General Manager Jim Nill dismissed head coach Lindy Ruff following the season, as he looked to bring in a coach that could get his team to play stronger defensively.

    Offseason Losses: Head Coach Lindy Ruff, F Patrick Sharp, F Cody Eakin, G Antti Niemi, and F Ales Hemsky

    As mentioned, the Stars cut ties with Ruff following the season. They also bought out the final year of Antti Niemi's contract, so they could go out and acquire a goalie who could keep his save percentage above .900. Cody Eakin was the Stars representative selected in the Expansion Draft, which gave them an opening in the top-nine for a center.

    Offseason Additions: Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, G Ben Bishop, F Alex Radulov, F Martin Hanzal, D Marc Methot, and F Tyler Pitlick

    "Guess who's back?! Hitch is back!" It has been 15 years since Ken Hitchcock coached the Stars, but he has returned to hopefully right the ship behind the Dallas bench. Leading the pack as newcomers in "Big D" is Ben Bishop, who was acquired in June, then inked to a six-year contract to play goal. Alex Radulov, coming off a solid season with Montreal, signed a five-year contract and should be expected to put up points alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Former Wild center Martin Hanzal also joined the Stars, as he will slot into the open spot at center left vacant by Cody Eakin.

    Projected Lines (via dailyfaceoff):

    Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Alex Radulov
    Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Brett Richie
    Radek Faska-Martin Hanzal-Tyler Pitlick
    Antoine Roussel-Devin Shore-Curtis McKenzie

    Marc Methot-John Klingberg
    Dan Hamhuis-Greg Pateryn
    Esa Lindell-Stephen Johns

    Ben Bishop
    Kari Lehtonen

    2017-18 Outlook:

    You can count on one hand the number of people in Minnesota who are excited to celebrate the Stars' 25th anniversary season. The Stars even did Minnesota fans a solid by having a throwback night against the Wild on February 3 (don't worry, it's just the 93-94 Dallas jerseys that resembled the final set North Stars jerseys). As for the actual Stars, this team will score a lot of goals, but they might be a bit dialed back offensively under Hitchcock, a defensive mastermind. As for the defense, the Stars will still be a bit shaky despite the acquisition of Marc Methot. They have a more stable presence in goal, with Bishop, so they are poised to have a bounce-back year. It will all depend on how the defense functions, but look for Dallas to find a way back into the playoffs in 2017-18.

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