The Dallas Stars will feature a new offensive look this season. Their turnover since the middle of last season has been significant.
Veterans Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow exited in bailout trades late last season and Loui Eriksson departed in the blockbuster offseason swap with Boston.
But will the new pieces fit snugly with the old pieces?
Here are the issues to keep an eye on:
Incumbent Jamie Benn moving to the wing: The Stars bet $26.25 million over five years that he can become a cornerstone offensive player. He slipped to 33 points in 41 games last season (with a minus-12 rating) after scoring 63 points in 71 games (with a plus-15 rating) the season before. Now he will move from the No. 1 center role to his natural position on the wing.
Newcomer Tyler Seguin stepping up as the catalyst: He arrives from Boston to take over as the first-line center. He brings a point-per-game skill set but also a reputation for immaturity and off-ice excesses. He scored 67 points with a plus-34 rating during his second season, only to slop to 32 points in 48 games last season. He finished the season on Boston’s third line and played his way out of town during the playoffs.
Newcomer Sergei Gonchar becoming the power-play quarterback: There was some speculation he could finish his career in the KHL. But a two-year, $10 million contract convinced him to commit to Dallas at the age of 39. (He did so gladly. In fact, Gonchar may have tried to recruit Evgeni Malkin, too, before the big man re-upped in Pittsburgh.) Sergei’s 27 points in 45 games last season reminded us he can still help a power play – and the Stars ranked just 18th with the man advantage last season.
Newcomer Rich Peverley moving into the supporting cast: He is the classic working man’s forward. He started his pro career in the East Coast Hockey League and worked his way up by producing at every level. He broke out with 22-goal season for Atlanta and peaked with 42 points in 57 games for the talent-laden Bruins in 2011-12. Can he deliver second-line production for the Stars? Or will he fall back into his more traditional third-line grinder mode?
Young Alex Chiasson striving to add scoring depth: He excited the Big D with his small sample last season – six goals and one assist in seven games last season after scoring 35 points in 57 games for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. At 6-foot-4, he could add some heft and skill to the third Stars line.
Young Valeri Nichushkin trying to make the team: After earning rookie-of-the-year honors in the KHL, he could be ready to provide instant impact for the Stars. He certainly has the optimal size (6-foot-4, 202 pounds) to go with his unique skill set at center. “Physically, he’s ready,” Stars GM Jim Nill told NHL.com. ”He’s a man already. We’re just going to monitor him real close and let him come in and see where he fits in. He can just come in and play, and that’s going to be key to his development.”