Tyler Seguin (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Dallas center is coming back from a couple leg injuries that robbed him of the end of his 2015-16 campaign, but now he's 100 percent and ready to gun for his second Cup ring, this time with the Stars.
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.
Seguin, who forms one of the deadliest duos in the league with left winger Jamie Benn, missed 22 of the final 23 games of the season (including all but one playoff contest) due to a cut to his Achilles tendon, which then morphed into a calf ailment. But now he's 100 percent and ready to go.
"Having a solid playoff run and really getting our feet wet, I feel like our window is just open now," Seguin said. "I'm looking forward to a big season in Dallas."
The Stars' attack just got even more potent, as Dallas signed free agent Jiri Hudler, only one season removed from putting up top-10 offensive numbers in the league. Coincidentally, Seguin met Hudler for the first time over the summer and is happy to have him on board. But Seguin, who won a Cup as a youngster in Boston, will undoubtedly be a difference-maker should the Stars reach the promised land. Not only because of his sublime skill, but also his knowledge from previous post-season runs. Thanks to Dallas' venture into the second round last year, he feels his squad is ready for a longer sojourn.
"A lot of it has to do with that experience," he said. "Getting that taste in your mouth of winning a playoff round, losing a playoff round, getting closer and knowing what that feels like. Knowing the atmosphere. We've got that taste now."
Perhaps losing Seguin before the 2016 playoffs will turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Dallas. As counterintuitive as it may sound, the Stars had to pull together without their top center and Seguin was pleased with what he saw from the press box.
"No quit," he said. "A lot of fight in the guys. Different guys stepping up at different times. A lot of...I don't want to say unsung heroes, but guys that don't have too much NHL experience. I look at Radek Faksa, a name people knew of, but now they really know. That's huge for a championship team; I've seen it in the past."
Faksa, the big rookie center, was indeed a positive force for Dallas, playing a nice defensive game and adding secondary scoring. Dallas has plenty of offensive punch up front and an emerging star on defense in John Klingberg, so Seguin's not wrong in his optimism.
But he and Benn will be the key. Benn just bowed out of the World Cup of Hockey as he recovers from a muscle injury, while Seguin will suit up for Canada. The World Cup, which kicks off in a couple weeks, has forced Seguin to get into game shape earlier than usual this summer, since he wants to be in mid-season form for the Toronto tournament. With the long injury layoff, that's not a bad thing.
"It was frustrating because no one could give me a timeline on the injury," Seguin said. "But now I'm feeling 100 percent and I'm ready to go."
The Stars have been all about go-go hockey of late, so having one of the main engines back and firing on all cylinders makes them dangerous. Can they put it all together in 2016-17? That's the challenge for Seguin and crew.