This is certainly not the Dallas team I had followed in the past. Old favorites like Modano, Turco and Zubov are long retired, while other superstars like Morrow, Ott and Ribeiro have moved on to new cities and teams. Nonetheless, the Stars will always hold a place in my heart and be a team I continue to follow.
It would be impossible to preview this team without mentioning the largest move of the off-season. In total, seven players were moved between the clubs, but the main focus of the deal involved trading Loui Eriksson to Boston in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverly. At first glance this trade looks incredibly unbalanced favoring the Stars. However, I would contend that Eriksson is likely the best player that hockey fans outside of Texas have never heard of. This was in reality, fairly close to a win-win trade, as Boston got someone who can help them in the short-term while they remain a cup contending team. In exchange, Dallas received a possible future star in Seguin.
With the captain position still vacant from the Morrow trade, it is expected among many that Jamie Benn will step up and fill the role. After leading the team in goals and points, even after missing the beginning of the season in contract negotiation, Benn can no longer be called a sleeper or dark horse like he has been for the past few seasons. He will now be the face of the franchise during this current era.
I expect the new realignment and playoff format will ultimately be friendly to the Stars. With the top 3 teams in the central division automatically advancing, followed by the possibility of another 2 ‘wild card’ teams, the odds are certainly in their favor. If Kari Lehtonen can have a solid season in goal, the Stars can easily be a contender for the third spot in the central division, likely in a race with Nashville and Minnesota.
My 2013-14 predictions:
Central division standings: