So, it's been forever since I've posted. You can thank my school for that.
The Stars' summer has sucked, to be plainly honest.
First off, the ridiculous (if somewhat forced) decisions by Nieuwendyk to release Mike Modano, Marty Turco, and Jere Lehtinen from the team. Basically, no more memories of the good years.
Second, we've hardly got enough money to make new offers to RFA's James Neal, Nicklas Grossman, and Matt Niskanen, and then we go and throw some cash at Andrew Raycroft and Adam Burish? Don't get me wrong, Burish is a tough guy who can put in some solid minutes and defend the rest of the team. But isn't that why we have Steve Ott and Krys Barch in the line-up? Not to mention Brenden Morrow and James Neal, both of whom can defend themselves pretty well if necessary. We've even got Luke Gazdic as a prospect. Burish is a good guy, but we don't need him.
As for Raycroft, the dude went on a worse downward spiral than Alex Auld, who bothered me last year. Oh, and we have the man who attracts injuries like a flower gets bees—Kari Lehtonen—as the starting goalie? I think I know which NHL team has the worst 1-2 punch in the league.
The only bright spot is that a top six forward group of Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, Jamie Benn, James Neal, Brad Richards, and Loui Eriksson isn't half bad. Throw in Steve Ott's developing scoring touch, Brandon Segal's 10-points-in-19-games post-deadline run, and Tom Wandell's 15 points as a rookie before injury, and there's some potential goal-scoring depth in the mix that the Stars haven't felt in a while. Toby Petersen and Brian Sutherby are reliable third or fourth liners, and apparently we've decided to give Fabian Brunnstrom one last chance.
Potential forward lines:
Morrow - Ribeiro - Benn
Neal/Ott - Richards -Eriksson
Ott/Neal - Wandell - Segal/Burish
Sutherby - Petersen - Brunnstrom/Burish
On defense, the Stars have been getting thin over the years, and last year we sent our top defensive prospect in Ivan Vishnevskiy to Atlanta for Kari Injury Lehtonen. However, Stephane Robidas is still a solid leader. Nicklas Grossman hasn't lost a step, and he can hold his own in the defensive zone. Karlis Skrastins is a bona-fide shot blocking star if he stays healthy, and Trevor Daley can easily regain his high-scoring form. Niskanen's still a little shaky, but he has a lot of potential and Mark Fistric has had more than enough AHL seasoning. Jeff Woywitka can step in when needed and Philip Larsen is looking more and more like he's ready for the big time, especially after getting an assist and a plus 1 rating in 2 games last year. Beyond that, the future is clouded.
In goal, I really really dislike the tandem of Lehtonen/Raycroft, in case you didn't pick up on that. However, we've got a brighter future. Matt Climie was a solid performer in the AHL last season as he led the Texas Stars to the Calder Cup Finals in their first year. Richard Bachman was a solid goalie in college, and hopefully this coming season, he'll get some quality AHL time as a backup. Brent Krahn isn't my favorite goalie prospect ever, but he was solid in the AHL as well and will likely be the first call-up when Lehtonen gets injured.
Overall, it'll be a rough season in Dallas, but we'll get plenty of glimpses at what our future could hold. And who knows; if Lehtonen manages to stay healthy, he was a highly touted prospect and he's had good numbers before. The playoffs could possibly be in the picture.