The Top Five Headlines for the Start of the 2021-2022 Season
From being a Stanley Cup Finalist in 2020 to just missing the playoffs in 2021, the last year and a half has been a massive rollercoaster for the Dallas Stars. The Stars are coming off of an injury stricken, COVID plagued season full of missteps and missed opportunities. Despite the disappointment of last year, the upcoming 2021-2022 campaign is looking very optimistic yet also curious. Here are the top five headlines to look out for in the upcoming season.
HEALTHY ONCE AGAIN- Key veteran players are once again healthy, and ready to play with the energetic youth of the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov returning to the lineup will provide a much-needed boost to offensive production as well as add veteran presence in the locker room. Last year Alexander Radulov was limited to only 11 games and 4 goals as he was sidelined for most of the season with an injury. Tyler Seguin only played 3 games last season as he was healing from hip surgery, he sustained in the Stars’ extended playoff run of 2020. Prior to last year, the two forwards have been some of the most productive players on the team. Hopefully this will improve their abysmal overtime win percentage. Let us pray to the hockey gods that the team stays healthy this season.
GOALTENDING? - Goaltending has become an enormous question mark coming into the season. With doubt still surrounding Ben Bishop’s health, have three options in goal in the upcoming season. Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger provided to be a fairly decent duo putting up a solid 2.48 goals against average. Oettinger impressed many as he finished his rookie year with a very strong .911 save percentage, which incidentally was much better than his counterpart, Anton Khudobin. To the naked eye, Oettinger seemed to noticeably improve with every game. However, this summer, Stars’ general manager Jim Nill made the curious signing of Brayden Holtby. This created a log jam of goaltending, and prevents a seemingly NHL-ready Jake Oettinger from playing in the big leagues. Some has speculated that Nill could possibly have a trade in the works, however no news has come from the front office yet.
OFFSEASON ACCQUISITIONS- The Stars were fairly quiet this summer in terms of trades, however they did make an unexpected splash with the addition of defenseman Ryan Suter. Suter, who was recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild, is a strong addition adding a veteran presence to the Stars’ blue line presence. A second major addition is goaltender Brayden Holtby. Holtby will likely occupy the backup goaltending slot with Anton Khudobin. Holtby is coming off a rough last couple of seasons as he hasn’t posted a save percentage over .900 since the 2018-2019 campaign.
SPECIAL TEAMS - The Stars’ special teams were very streaky last season. However, they did finish 5th best in powerplay percentage. In contrast, they also finished with a mediocre 18th best penalty kill percentage. The Stars must improve the consistency of their special teams as well as improve their penalty kill in order to be successful
OVERTIME LOSSES- The Stars’ 14 overtime losses are too many for any team. This translates to 14 extra points lost in the standings. This would have been the difference between making the playoffs with a good seed, and missing the playoffs completely. It is imperative that they improve their overtime play if they have any designs on making a playoff run once again.