Summer Skate: Stars
What are the next steps as the franchise continues to build a contender?
Although the weather doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
Under the new management duo of GM Jim Nill and head coach Lindy Ruff, the Dallas Stars returned to the postseason for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The most ostensible cause for getting over the hump was the trade for Tyler Seguin, the second pick in the 2010 NHL draft, from Boston. He teamed up with Canadian Olympian Jamie Benn, allowing the latter to return to his more natural position of left wing. The pair combined for 71 goals, playing together in more than 80 percent of their respective even-strength shifts.
Breaking a long playoff drought is all well and good, but the question on everyone's minds is whether the success seen last season is at all sustainable. If the young talents continue to be among the top 10 point producers in the NHL -- and their linemate Valeri Nichushkin joins them to form a three-pronged attacked on the first line -- while the additions of veteran offensive threats Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky prevent the opposition from loading up against the top line, we may just find that last season was only the first step to the Stars establishing themselves as a serious serial contender along the likes of Chicago and St. Louis.