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article imageOp-Ed: How the Dallas Stars became a contender

By Ben Morris     Sep 13, 2014 in Sports
Dallas - After missing the playoffs in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, the Dallas Stars made a splash with the acquisition of Tyler Seguin. Now heading into the 2014-15 season the Stars have high expectations after another big offseason.
The often maligned Jason Spezza is a career point per game producer who asked for a trade out of Ottawa after the media and the fans blamed him for the Senators' failure to make the playoffs last year. The four time 30 goal scorer adds another dimension to an offense that cracked the top ten in goals per game last year.
Rival G.M's have taken notice of the new firepower and have given respect to the Stars as a contending team, prepared to do some damage in not only their division, but also the league.
"I think Dallas is ready to take a leap in with the big boys,’’ said one Eastern Conference G.M to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. Stars general manager Jim Nill has plenty of experience building contenders. He was a part of a Detroit Red Wings management team that found gems in the draft like Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg. He was also part of a club that acquired players like Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, and Brendan Shanahan; three key members to Stanley Cup winning teams.
One rival G.M had that history in mind when he told ESPN, "It's no surprise to anyone in the Western Conference that watched Jim Nill and his staff quietly weave his magic in Detroit ... that the same culture of excellence is evolving quickly in Dallas through solid drafting and astute trades and FA signings."
Not only did Nill swing a trade to acquire Spezza, he added Ales Hemsky to the mix. Spezza's former teammate in Ottawa for a few short months adds even more scoring depth to a top six that includes Seguin, Jamie Benn; a duo that combined for 163 points. With Valeri Nikushkin, Cody Eakin, and Erik Cole, Dallas has three players coming off seasons of double digit goals; plenty of scoring depth in a division and conference with many high powered teams.
In a competitive Central division the Stars went out and added talent they needed to compete. They took a highly skilled Anaheim Ducks team to six games in the first round of last years playoffs, and could go much farther this upcoming year. The only questions sit in the back of the ice.
Kari Lehtonen is one of the most underrated goaltenders in the NHL. In 65 games last year, he won 33 games posting a 9.19 SV% to go along with a 2.41 G.A.A. In his career he has a winning record and a goals against under 3; however his small playoff experience has netted higher goals against and a lower save percentages than his regular season averages. After years on terrible Atlanta Thrashers teams, and unproductive Stars teams, Lehtonen must step up in April for the Stars to go on a deep playoff run.
Another question is whether Dallas' defensemen step up and improve their defensive zone play. A top ten offensive team in Dallas supported a bottom fifteen defensive team. With a group that includes Trever Daley, Alex Goligoski, and Sergei Gonchar, teams aren't very worried about having their offense shut down. Dallas did give up 30 shots per game, but their deficiencies in defense are made up in a scary offense that can match up with the net smashing offense of the Western Conference.
An offensively gifted team became an offensive powerhouse in one offseason. While other teams in their division added offense, Dallas kept pace. With Colorado bound to take a step back, and goaltending questions in Anaheim and St. Louis; the Dallas offense could light up the scoreboard.
Barring injury, the Dallas Stars could not only make the playoffs, but do some damage in the conference. They do have a G.M who knows how to build a winner, and although the Western Conference may be stacked with deep teams, no one should take the Dallas Stars lightly.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Dallas Stars, jason spezza, tyler seguin, nhl central division, Valeri Nichushkin
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