The Dallas Stars were a very solid hockey team in 2022-23, finishing second in the Central Division and reaching the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs. With their core group all returning and a few new additions, Dallas should be even better in 2023-24. Their combination of offensive talent, team defense, and great goaltending make them a true Stanley Cup contender this season.
Led by emerging superstar Jason Robertson, the Dallas Stars had a top-ten offense in the NHL last season. They finished seventh with 3.43 GF/G. Robertson led the team in goals, assists, and points with 46, 63, and 109 respectively. While Jason Robertson is clearly their best offensive player, he certainly doesn’t do it alone.
The Stars have a deep lineup that can produce up and down the roster. Forwards Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz all had 75-plus points last season. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen added another 73. Winger Wyatt Johnston had a fantastic rookie season with 24 goals and 41 points. The list goes on and on for Dallas.
The best news for the Stars is that all of their core contributors from last season are returning. They also added forward Matt Duchene in free agency and picked up a potential depth scorer in Craig Smith. While both Duchene and Smith are coming off tough seasons, they’ll have a chance to hit the reset button in Dallas.
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With their star-studded top six, improving depth, and the addition of Matt Duchene, I expect Dallas’ offense to be even more potent this season. I would not be surprised if the Stars become a top-five offense and score over 3.5 GF/G in 2023-24. They have the talent and scoring ability to keep up with anybody in the NHL.
The Dallas Stars are also a phenomenal defensive team. Led by perennial Norris Trophy candidate Miro Heiskanen, the Stars have an extremely solid defense core that helps substantially limit goals against. Outside of Heiskanen, veterans Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter play big minutes on the blue line. They also have a slew of quality depth defensemen to fill out the lineup, including Jani Hakanpaa, Nils Lundqvist, Thomas Harley, and Joel Hanley.
It’s not just the defensemen helping keep the puck out of the net, though. Most of Dallas’ forwards are solid two-way players and are responsible in their own end. Roope Hintz, Radek Faksa, Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Jamie Benn all got a least one vote for the Selke Trophy last season. They also all had positive plus-minuses, along with a large majority of Dallas’ players.
Last season, Dallas gave up just 2.62 GA/G, which was third-best in the league. Their defense core is very solid, and most of their forwards are defensively responsible as well. Overall, they are one of the best defensive teams in the league and should be again this season. However, no matter how good a team is defensively, some shots still get through. That’s where goaltending comes in, and the Stars have no issues with that.
Between the Pipes
Jake Oettinger is the starting goalie for the Dallas Stars, and not only is he one of the best young goalies in the NHL, he’s one of the best goalies in the NHL period. At 24 years old, Oettinger has already established himself as a franchise goaltender and still has more room to grow. He finished fifth in Vezina Trophy voting last season and will very likely win that award at some point in his career.
In 61 starts last season, Oettinger posted a 37-11-11 record, 2.37 GAA, .919 sv%, 11.8 GSAx, and five shutouts. Obviously, he has a very good team in front of him, but that is still some darn good goaltending, especially from a 24-year-old.
Oettinger’s backup is veteran Scott Wedgewood. He doesn’t have to play a lot but is a solid backup and a good tandem partner for a youngster like Oettinger. The 30-year-old started 18 games last season and went 9-8-3 with a 2.72 GAA, .915 sv%, 4.5 GSAx, and one shutout.
With a young franchise goaltender and quality veteran backup, the Dallas Stars are set between the pipes. Goaltending should once again be a strength of this team, perhaps even more so as Jake Oettinger continues to improve. As long as Oettinger stays healthy, the Dallas Stars should have no problem keeping the puck out of their net.
Full Blown Contenders
The Stars just extended general manager Jim Nill for two more seasons, and for good reason. Nill has built a contending team that is certainly capable of winning the Stanley Cup. They have made the playoffs four of the last five seasons and were just in the Conference Finals last year.
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Overall, the Dallas Stars are a top-tier team with no glaring weaknesses. They have an offense that can score with anybody, are solid across the board defensively, and have one of the best starting goalies in the NHL. This is a very good team that has the potential to be great. They certainly should be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, and NHL as a whole, in 2023-24. I would not at all be surprised if they make another deep playoff run or even win the Stanley Cup.