Joshua Clark is the editor for the Dallas Stars fan site “Blackout Dallas” since 2014 and in that short time has seen a lot of hype surround the team with less actual on-ice success than most have expected. The Stars had a relatively quiet summer so there isn’t quite the same hype around the team this year, but as we find out in our five questions about the boys from Big D, there is still reason for optimisim.
JN – So uh, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of an Erik Karlsson in Dallas. Not that you’ll represent of all Stars fans on this, but what was your take on the rumors of EK going to Big D? Was it a realistic move, was it one that would have cost too much or would have any price been worth to pay to get someone of his caliber?
Josh – That’s a good question, and at the moment, it seems as though there still may be some rumblings. Tracking the Erik Karlsson watch wasn’t the best way to spend the Fourth of July, but it came with some excitement. At the end of the day, it could definitely happen. The situation in Ottawa is a discouraging and disappointing one, to say the least and with one year left on the contract of a Norris-caliber defender, the Senators would be crazy to not try and get something for him before he leaves on the open market in ten months.
The Stars could definitely be one of the suitors and were the reported frontrunner for a while. But considering the asking price, I was completely against it. The Senators wanted Miro Heiskanen, who is expected to be a generational talent for Dallas. The fact that he’s already accomplished so much before his 20th birthday is almost unbelievable. Trading him away would have been a massive mistake by the Stars, in my mind. And after running a poll on our Twitter page, the majority of Stars fans agreed.
Now, there are other prices that I would certainly consider if I were Jim Nill. I mean, it IS Erik Karlsson that we’re talking about. But until Ottawa brings down their price AND looks past Heiskanen entirely, I would not listen.
JN – We also couldn’t help but notice Stars fans are maybe starting to panic a teeny bit about the lack of a Tyler Seguin extension. The Stars are going to sign him at some point, right? There isn’t a chance they trade him away later this season or – worse yet – let him walk like the Islanders did Tavares… do they?
Josh – Panic would be an understatement for some fans, haha.
The thing with the Tyler Seguin extension story is that no one really knows what to think. Nill reported in late July that he was in consistent negotiations with Seguin’s camp. In late August, however, Seguin pointed out to the media that he was disappointed in the lack of communication and conversation with the organization. And last Friday, a report came out that both sides saw promise and were hoping to get a deal done before the season begins.
My gut feeling is that an extension will be signed before October 4. The Stars want him in their lineup for the next eight years (and won’t have a true no. 1 center if he departs) and Seguin loves the city and team. Both sides want something to get done ASAP, so I think it happens in the end. What will the deal look like? That’s anyone’s guess. But if negotiations linger, I do NOT think that Nill will let him walk next July without anything in return. If he does, Nill will more than likely be out of a job by July 1.
JN – Last season was a very up and down season in Dallas in so many areas. December and February were strong months and for a while they were right there with the Jets and Predators at the top of the division, but the team collapsed in March. What exactly was behind that late season swoon and do you feel the Stars have taken steps forward in addressing their inconsistency?
Josh – Two words: depth scoring. The Stars looked like a team that could contend for 75 percent of last season. The defense jumped from 29th to seventh in terms of GAA between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the goaltending possessed an impressive one-two punch (until Bishop fell to a knee injury in early March), and the offense was good enough to win games.
But with Bishop gone, the Dallas offense disappeared as well. The top line was the only one contributing on the score-sheet and, as a result, won a majority of the chances to make a difference on the ice. Ken Hitchcock didn’t trust the younger players and left them to play spectator from the bench or press box when the game was on the line. Mismanagement of assets and a severely lacking top six really hurt the team down the stretch and ultimately contributed to their downfall.
And while the Stars didn’t necessarily add a big time piece to their offense this summer, they took the steps to improve. The first line is just fine as-is and the trio of Mattias Janmark, Jason Spezza, and Valeri Nichushkin should be a solid and potentially dangerous asset to round out the top six. Blake Comeau will be a good veteran addition to the middle six and the Stars’ young forwards should have a sizable opportunity to take a big step forward in their own development. Oh, and adding a new head coach in Jim Montgomery who trusts young players and leans heavily on offensive attacking should help.
JN – Jim Montgomery comes to Dallas with a very impressive NCAA resume, but nothing to really speak of NHL wise. Is that a concern or is just the fact that you’ll have a coach that at least likes the idea of scoring goals once in a while – as opposed to Ken Hitchcock’s defense upon defense mindset – enough to have Stars fans excited?
Josh – The majority of Stars fans are absolutely beside themselves with excitement for the hiring of Montgomery. While he doesn’t have an NHL coaching resume, he does have six years of NHL playing experience as well as a few years of overseas play. The point is that he knows the game at all levels.
And in his years at Denver University, he found a way to develop a successful scheme, get the most out of all of his players, and build an outstanding culture in the locker room and on the ice. Those elements cannot be overlooked.
There’s really no outlying concerns when it comes to Montgomery’s first year (besides maybe an inability to adapt his scheme and style to NHL play). He’s a coach that loves offense, puck possession, relentlessness, and wearing an opponent down with a high-powered scoring attack. He also has a solid defensive mind and allows his defenders to get creative in order to succeed. It’s everything that the Stars were missing last season. Combine that with the defensive knowledge that they learned from Hitchcock and you should have a happy medium that pushes this Dallas Stars team back into the thick of the fight.
JN – Despite multiple seasons of hype seemingly generated every summer, the Stars have only made the playoffs in two of the last ten seasons. This season – save for the EK and Tavares rumors – has been pretty quiet in Texas, so where do you see the Stars finishing this season?
Josh – It’s been a tough road for the Dallas Stars. Being the “winners of the off-season” doesn’t mean anything when it fails to translate onto the ice. Some of that is questionable management and coaching while another part of it is just poor execution.
But they seem to have addressed the majority of their concerns this summer. They have a new coach that will work well with their already-talented lineup and have a desire to get the bad taste that has lingered since April out of their mouth.
I don’t expect this season to be an incredibly huge one for the Stars, but I do expect it to be filled with promise and plenty of surprises. I see the Stars finishing in fourth place in the division and picking up a wild card spot to punch their ticket back into the postseason. We’ll see what happens from there.