Jamie Benn has been the NHL’s most prolific scorer over the past two seasons and he very well could have taken over the World Cup had a core muscle injury not forced him out of the tournament. But as Benn makes his recovery, he knows that there are more important things than a two-week international showdown.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Benn, 27, wasn’t sad to miss out on the tournament. He was one of the first 16 players named to the Canadian squad — a mortal lock to make the team even before the announcement — and was likely set to take on a bigger role after contributed two goals in six games with the national squad during the 2014 Olympics.
“It’s a little bit disappointing,” Benn told Stars Inside Edge’s Mark Stepneski. “I wanted to be there and be part of that team. It’s the first time in 12 years that they’ve done [the World Cup], and I think it’s a unique tournament the way they set up the teams, but I think you have to look at the bigger picture, and that’s being healthy for our season here in Dallas.” Read more
Givani Smith didn’t have an enviable situation in his draft year. The physical left winger played for literally one of the worst teams in all of major junior – the Guelph Storm – and watched coach Bill Stewart walk out on his troops after Guelph won just two of its first 27 games. But scouts saw Smith’s unique combination of brawn and skill and knew he’d be a good one. Detroit nabbed him in the second round this summer and now he’s already impressing NHLers.
The Dallas Stars were one of the most exciting shows on ice last season, but keeping the puck out of their net proved too onerous in the end. Dallas bowed out to St. Louis in the second round and although goaltending will continue to be a question this season, there will be one huge upgrade when the Stars take up arms on opening night: Tyler Seguin will be back.
The Stars’ offense has been inarguably the best in the NHL over the past two seasons and since the start of the 2014-15 season Dallas has scored 37 more goals than any other team in the league. Suffice it to say that the Stars don’t really need more firepower in their arsenal.
However, just because the Stars don’t need more scoring ability doesn’t mean GM Jim Nill is going to pass up the opportunity to make an already outstanding offense even better.
Nill appears to have done exactly that with the signing of Jiri Hudler, 32, to a one-year, $2-million deal. Nill confirmed Dallas’ signing of Hudler to DallasStars.com’s Mark Stepneski. The plan, Nill said, is to have Hudler slot into the top-six and lend a hand on the power play, and after scoring 265 goals in 2015-16, the Stars could be set to ice one of the most productive offenses of the past several years. Read more
A core muscle injury that required mid-July surgery to repair put Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn’s status for the World Cup in question, and Tuesday came the news that Benn is officially out of the tournament.
Hockey Canada has announced that Benn, 27, will not be able to take part in the World Cup, despite the fact that his originally reported recovery timeline made it possible that he could have been healthy in time for the competition. Benn had previously said that his focus was to play in the World Cup, adding he believed the surgery would be slightly easier to come back from than the double hip surgery he had undergone during the previous off-season. The injury was said to need a six-week rehab process, but after re-evaluation, Benn will not be able to participate.
But fear not, Canadian hockey fans, as Benn, the NHL’s highest-scoring player over the past two seasons, has been replaced by the 2015-16 post-season’s leading point-getter, Logan Couture. Read more
At the start of this NHL off-season, the woeful performance of Dallas Stars goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi generated talk of a possible change between the pipes. They had the worst combined goals-against (2.78) of the 16 teams entering the 2016 playoffs. Their woeful 3.23 GAA was a significant factor in the Stars’ second-round elimination.
According to NBC Sports’ Jason Brough, it’s unlikely Stars GM Jim Nill will shake things up before the start of the season. Nill opted not to buy out Lehtonen or Niemi this summer, probably because of the expense.
Lehtonen, 32, has two years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million, while the 32-year-old Niemi is also signed through 2017-18 at a cap hit of $4.5 million. Buying out either goalie at two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining tenure would’ve taken a significant chunk out of the Stars’ cap payroll over the next four seasons.
Ending a season with a 6-1 home loss in a Game 7 obviously leaves a bitter aftertaste. But it could’ve been worse for the Dallas Stars.
The lopsided letdown in the Central Division final was embarrassing but hardly signified the end of something. Quite the opposite. The Stars are beginning something: an era of what might be sustained dominance. There’s an excellent chance we merely look back on 2015-16 as their warmup act.
The Stars jumped from out of the post-season to second overall in the NHL and first in the Central Division. They got a second straight MVP-caliber year from captain Jamie Benn. Tyler Seguin continued to score at an elite pace. Sophomore D-man John Klingberg busted out for 58 points. The versatile Cody Eakin has become one of the game’s best third-line centers, and Jason Spezza’s 33 goals were one short of his career high. The Stars led the league in scoring and finished second in 5-on-5 Corsi For Per 60. They were an offensive juggernaut, and they have room to grow in that regard. Power winger Valeri Nichushkin hasn’t realized his potential yet but is still just 21. Prospects Jason Dickinson and Brett Ritchie lurk on the roster bubble, with Denis Gurianov on the way eventually.
The Stars also came within one victory of the Western Conference final without Seguin, who missed all but one playoff game with an Achilles injury. So they have a lot going for them, especially on offense. Their best players remain in their 20s. Franchise cornerstones Benn and Klingberg are signed long term. This team has as high a ceiling as any in the NHL. That’s why we picked Dallas to reach the Stanley Cup final in our 2016-17 THN Yearbook.
Note that we didn’t pick them to win it all, however. The Stars are a strange beast in that, for all their upside, they have a significant amount of downside in 2016-17, too. Or they at least raise a truckload of questions.
Team Canada’s World Cup of Hockey hopes won’t rest on the shoulders of one player, but it will surely be a relief for GM Doug Armstrong and coach Mike Babcock to know they’ll have Dallas Stars sniper Tyler Seguin in the lineup.
Seguin, 24, has spent his off-season working his way back from an Achilles injury — a 15 percent cut of the tendon — that cost the Stars center the final 10 games of the regular season and saw him on the sideline for 12 of 13 playoff games. But asked about the injury and how he’s feeling leading up to the World Cup tournament, Seguin told the Dallas Stars’ website that he’s prepared for the competition that’s set to begin in mid-September.
“I’m doing well,” Seguin said. “It’s been a different summer, as far as training-wise coming off of an injury. But I’m feeling great, looking forward to the World Cup in the next month or so.” Read more