No. 3: Dallas Stars
Dallas’ problems allowing goals last season didn’t have so much to do with its defense as it did with its incredibly poor goaltending. Still, GM Jim Nill thinks his team has a scoring issue despite putting up about 15 goals a game last season. To each his own.
John Klingberg, unlike Parayko in St. Louis, is the truth in Dallas. The talented Swede burst onto the scene in 2014-15 and followed it up with 58 points, solid defense and stellar puck possession in Season 2. He’s a terror in all three phases of the game, someone the Stars will want to build around.
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Alex Goligoski is gone from the Lone Star State, so who becomes Klingberg’s partner in crime remains to be seen. First crack will probably go to offseason pickup Dan Hamhuis, who is good enough on both sides of the ice but far from stellar. He’s also on the wrong side of 30.
Same can be said for Johnny Oduya, though Blackhawks fans know of his talents as a defensive defenseman, especially in crunch-time situations. The Stars, however, have some great youth working through the system, in addition to Klingberg.
Stephen Johns appears to be working toward making the Blackhawks pay for trading him. He was immediately trusted with some defensive-zone shifts upon his NHL debut last season and came out of them well. Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak also have promise. Oh, and Jordie Benn is here.
Dallas has a pretty deep defense, though there are some young guys still looking to prove themselves and some older guys who could be on the downslide. Still, this is a solid unit heading into the new season.
Next: Number 2