Dallas Stars: Puck Daddy's 2015-16 NHL Season Preview

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(The 2015-16 NHL season is nearly upon us! Why bother watching this team? What will make or break the season? Find out as we preview all 30 teams as camps begin!)  

Last Season 

41-31-10, 92 points. Sixth in the Central Division.  

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2014-15 Season, In One Tweet

Did They Get Better, Worse Or Are They About The Same? 

Better.

General manager Jim Nill’s reconstruction of the roster continued for a third summer when he nabbed Patrick Sharp and defensive prospect Stephen Johns from the Chicago Blackhawks and signed Johnny Oduya from the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

Sharp’s addition, along with the return of a healthy Val Nichushkin, strengthens head coach Lindy Ruff’s top two lines.  

Speaking of strengthening, Nill went and acquired the negotiating rights to goaltender Antti Niemi during the draft and later signed him to a three-year deal. That will provide some much needed competition in the Stars’ crease with Kari Lehtonen coming off a disappointing campaign that saw his even-strength save percentage drop from .925 to .909.

The new faces will only bolster an offense that was second in the NHL last season with 257 goals. And the hope is that additions of Niemi and Oduya can help lower the “goals allowed” category from last season's 257.

AP Photo/John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher

Five Most Fascinating Players

1. Jamie Benn, F

The reigning NHL scoring champ posted career highs in goals and points in 2014-15. Another year with Tyler Seguin and a bolstered offense should help keep the Stars captain in the mix for a second scoring title.

2. Tyler Seguin, F

Seguin tied a career high with 37 goals last season and his offensive production will only continue to improve given his talent and teammates in Dallas. What we’re waiting to see is following his photoshoot for ESPN’s Body Issue, will Stars fans toss rubber duckies onto the ice whenever he tallies a hat trick? Seems as if one teammates if already getting into the act.

3. Kari Lehtonen, G

Lehtonen struggled last season and Nill went out and dealt for Niemi Draft weekend as insurance. Lehtonen still has three more pricey years left on his deal and patience is waning. The 1a/1b setup is there to help Lehtonen try and regain the form he had in his early years with the Stars.

4. John Klingberg, D

Not on anyone’s Calder Trophy radar at the beginning of the season, the 23-year old Swede made his name known after an offensive season that saw him score 11 goals and record 40 points. His 101.3 PDO last season would say he’s due to regress, but with enough power play time, he could match his 12 power play points.

5. Val Nichushkin, F

A hip injury limited the young Russian to only eight games last season. Now fully healthy, we’ve seen glimpses of greatness in his short time in the NHL. Will 2015-16 be his breakout year?

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Potentially The Best Thing About This Team

For another season, the Stars will be a Center Ice/GameCenter Live favorite among fans. The high-powered offense and questionable defense should lead to some more high-scoring games. 

Potentially The Worst Thing About This Team

Oduya and Niemi aren't exactly solutions to make a huge leap in defensive improvement, but they’re certainly better than what Dallas had last season. We know the offense will be there, but will the one thing holding the Stars back from making major strides this season be their inability to keep the red light off in their own end?

Dream 3-on-3 OT Group

Hopefully Ruff gets crazy one game and tosses three forwards over the boards. Something like a Benn, Seguin and Sharp would do just fine. He’ll have plenty of options. 

Coach Hot Seat Rating (1-10, 10 being scorching hot)

Five. Nill’s invested a lot into the roster in continually bringing talent to Dallas. After last season’s disappointing results, this is the year the Stars are expected to return to the postseason. The GM has done his job, it’s now up to the players and the head coach to deliver results.

Awkward Old School Video Break

We really need to bring back the Ambassador of Fun position. 

Their Best Case Scenario Is … 

Their offense and possession numbers remain strong while the defense improves enough to not be as much of a hindrance. Niemi and Lehtonen could be a competent tandem in goal, enough to allow the playoffs to become a reality again in Dallas.

Their Nightmare Scenario Is …

Their bottom two lines can’t provide any depth production and the Niemi and Lehtonen flames out, as Nill. Any type of prolonged slump ends up costing Ruff his job.

Prediction

We are going to have so much fun again watching the Stars, and the moves Nill has made will culminate in a return to the postseason. Seguin plays himself into the mix for the Rocket Richard Trophy, earning serious Hart Trophy consideration, while Benn finishes top-10 in scoring.

PUCK DADDY SEASON PREVIEW 2015-16: Winnipeg Jets/Washington Capitals/Vancouver Canucks/Tampa Bay Lightning/San Jose Sharks/Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers/Ottawa Senators/New York Rangers/New York Islanders/New Jersey Devils/Nashville Predators/Montreal Canadiens/Minnesota Wild/Los Angeles Kings/Florida Panthers/Detroit Red Wings

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