The Stars limped to the finish line last year, giving a Los Angeles Kings squad a path to the playoffs and the rest is NHL history. Dallas hasn't made the playoffs in several years, a tough feat to "accomplish" in the modern NHL, but hope was restored when the team was finally sold during last season to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi. Gaglardi has promised a return to NHL prominence, first on the ledger sheet and hopefully on the standings as a result, and the Stars turned over a good chunk of their top six forwards , jettisoning Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott and adding Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney and Derek Roy.
THE BIG GUNS
Jamie Benn (C): Benn's ascent up the NHL ranks continued last year, as he set career highs in goals, assists and point despite very little time spent on the power play. He was often tasked with starting his shift in defensive zone as Mike Ribeiro proved to be a liability in his own end, and the Roy-for-Ryder swap should free up Benn to get more shifts in the offensive end. He's a good bet to post career highs across the board again, particularly with the additions of Roy, Jagr and Whitney to the top six.
Loui Eriksson (LW): Eriksson has eclipsed the 70-point mark in three straight seasons, a list that is surprisingly short. He may be hard-pressed to top his 36-goal campaign back in 2008-09, but he's a safe bet to end up right around 30 and, like Benn, should benefit from the offseason additions and what has to be a better power play that was one of the worst in NHL history last season.
Jaromir Jagr (RW): Jagr's return to the NHL last season was largely a success (19 goals, 35 assists in 73 games), and it resulted in a pretty long line of teams reported to be interested in signing him in the offseason. It was a bit surprising then that he agreed to terms with the Stars, but he's expected to skate on the top line and should be solid once again.
Ray Whitney (LW): Whitney reversed a three-year trend of decreased scoring, racking up 77 points in 82 games last season. It was his best season since 2006-07, and while it's hard to think the 40-year old could repeat things this season, Whitney has managed to stay healthy for each of the past four seasons and will augment the top six forwards.
ONE TO WATCH
Derek Roy (C): Roy struggled to regain his quickness from the leg injury that ended his 2010-11 season early. He threatened 70 points in each of the three prior seasons however, and will slot in behind Jamie Benn as Dallas' #2 center once he returns from offseason shoulder surgery. He's scheduled to return in early November, so any sort of the delay to the NHL season would be beneficial here.
Michael Ryder (RW): Ryder proved to be one of the bigger free agent bargains last season, racking up 35 goals and 62 points in 82 games after two disappointing seasons with the Bruins. Ryder had shown a good scoring touch earlier in his career with Montreal (25-30-30 in his first three seasons), but scored on nearly 17 percent of his shots last year. Even a small regression to the norm there will drop him below 30 on the season.
Brenden Morrow (LW): Morrow's style of play may have finally caught up with him, as he saw his point production drop way off last season and he found himself skating on the third and fourth line as the season waned. Dallas' additions in the offseason did nothing to move Morrow back among the top six, and he's no longer one of the better power forward options in the NHL.
Reilly Smith (RW): Smith completed his collegiate career, netting 30 goals in his final season at Miami (Ohio), and is expected to begin the season with the Texas Stars (AHL). Considered to be the closest among Dallas forward prospects to being NHL-ready, the offseason additions of Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney will likely keep Smith in the minors for much of the season.
Alex Chiasson (RW): Chiasson, like Smith, completed a nice collegiate career at Boston University last year with 46 points in 38 games. He projects well at the NHL level, and is expected to spend the season with the Texas Stars (AHL).
Jamie Oleksiak (D): Oleksiak gets good marks for his skating despite his massive size (6'7", 240). He played well in his first season in the OHL, scoring 12 times and chipping n 20 assists in 59 games. He projects as a dominating physical defensemen, though his fantasy value will be closely tied to the development in his offensive game.