Let’s not beat around the bush; this past season was a major disappointment for the Dallas Stars.
Last year, even though that season ended in the first round, the Stars seemed to be on the rise after a number of years after missing the postseason.
But this season was a major step back for the team. The Stars never really were in contention for a postseason berth, sulking around the bottom of the Central Division for the entire year.
As a fan, it was incredibly difficult to watch, seeing the team lose night after night. I imagine it was even tougher in the locker room.
But with the season now over, one can only look forward and this offseason will need to see big changes for the Stars in order to secure a much better 2015-16 season.
The first place to look to make changes for the Stars in goalkeeping. There’s no doubt that the weakest link for Dallas this past season was the play of its goalies. Kari Lehtonen, who was at least solid last year, struggled mightily this past year. He finished the season with the 36th-lowest goals against average at 2.94. But it wasn’t just that he gave up goals, it was that he gave up soft goals. Countless times shots that to a decent keeper would be just mere saves found their way into the back of the net for Lehtonen.
At the same time, the Stars didn’t have a real viable back up option. Anders Lindback struggled when he got his turn in front of net and was sent to Buffalo for Jhonas Enroth. But Enroth wasn’t any better. He posted a 2.38 goals against average, but had just a 5-5 record and only one shutout.
To be better next year, the Stars are going to have to find a way to get a much better goalie into town. Last year they had Tim Thomas, who won the 2011 Stanley Cup with Boston, as a back up, but ended up letting him go in the offseason. If they can find someone like him, they’ll be able to fix that end.
The Stars also need better defensemen as well. It’s hard to capture that all in a stat and goalies get most of the blame for goals. But the Stars had holes with their defense. They had three defensemen with a negative plus/minus, essentially the number of goals scored and given up by the team while they’re on the ice. Trevor Dailey was by far the worst with a -13. Three more had a 0 plus minus. So getting quality defensemen into Dallas is also imperative this offseason.
Of course, the offense was the bright spot for the team with Jamie Benn finished first in the league in points and Tyler Seguin leading the team with 37 goals despite missing a good part of the season with injuries.
But the goal for this offseason for this team needs to see big changes, particularly on the defensive side. That, and only that, will get the Stars back into playoff contention and back on the road to relevancy.