Yesterday we previewed the top-six forwards that will be playing for the Stars this season. Today’s post is about the rest of the forwards that will or might see time with the Stars on the bottom two lines.
Last season we saw guys like Radek Dvorak, Adam Burish and Jake Dowell occupying these spots. They provided some fine defensive work and a lot of these guys played on the penalty kill but expecting offensive production from these fellas was a laughable joke. The only player that really showed that scoring touch was Eric Nystrom, but that was still mostly near the beginning of the season.
This year the Stars should be getting an influx of young talent to fill out the lines to go along with a few of those cagey veterans. The team seems to have finally embraced the future and fans should be getting a good look at some of those kids this year. So without further ado, here’re the rest of the forwards for the Stars.
Morrow is one of the players this season that I’m most interested in watching. He’s been ravaged by injuries here and there the past few seasons and seems to be a shell of his former self. There’s been clamoring from fans to trade the captain while he still has any value. He enter this season a year older (34-years-old when the season starts) so all signs point downward for him.
This year though, I think fans will be okay with what Morrow has to offer on the ice. The extended break should have him as healthy as he’s ever been in the past five years. He’s not going to be 100%, but it’s close enough. He’s just a year removed from a career high 33 goal season so that scoring touch is still there somewhere and he still has someone roadblock value on the power play.
More than anything else though, Morrow finally gets to play in the right spot. He’s been miscast as a top-six forward the past couple of seasons (even if he was scoring goals). Morrow has always been the tough physical grinder type of player and he’ll right at home this year alongside (most likely) Vernon Fiddler and Eric Nystrom.
There’s should be no pressure out there for him to score a bunch of goals so he should more comfortable to just play his game.
The one thing that Morrow has to watch out for though is the penalty situation. Last season, Morrow was continuously getting shepherded into the sin bin. He was second on the team (by a wide margin) with 97 PIM despite just playing in 57 games. That level of disobedience is flat out unacceptable, especially from the captain of the team. Morrow has to be more careful with his play this season as the Stars lost a good chunk of their penalty killing forwards in free agency.
If all this fails and Morrow just doesn’t have it in him, well… at least it’s the last year of his contract.
2013 Prediction: 13 goals, 6 assists, 19 points, -4 rating, 48 PIM
Fiddler was one of the nice surprises on the team last season. He was a reliable player that played a ton of penalty killing minutes and was one the team’s best face-off guys. Granted it was just around a 50% winning percentage but sadly that’s now the best on the team with Steve Ott and Adam Burish gone.
There could be numerous times this season when Fiddler is the guy out there taking the pivotal face-off so hopefully he gets a little more effective in the circle.
Out of the face-off dot, Fiddler will still lead the penalty kill team and he gets some better offensive talent beside him in Morrow. His assists should be a little more than expected. Nothing against Radek Dvorak but uhhh… he doesn’t exactly see the puck hit the back of the net much.
Fiddler should be a consistent player again this season and do his usual Fiddler things.
2013 Prediction: 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points, -8 rating, 26 PIM
The biggest surprise for the Stars last season was definitely Nystrom. His 16 goals were easily a career high and his 21 points also set a personal best. As much as I love what Nystrom provides for the team, expect a steep regression to the mean for him this season.
Nystrom had a 15.7% shooting percentage last season, six percentage points better than his career average. If he had been more like his usual self, his 102 shots last season would have only resulted in nine or 10 goals (9.894 to be exact). In other words, he was six or seven goals better than he should have been. Now he could do it again this season and this could be the re-birth of his career (and I hope he does) but the odds are highly unlikely. He only had two goals in the final three months of the season last year.
Nystrom should still be a fine player though for Dallas. He provides solid energy on the ice and will work his ass off doing his job. He’ll work the penalty-kill and might even get a little time on the power-play. He’ll be one of the more versatile guys on the team. Just don’t be disappointed if his goal totals are rather paltry this season.
2013 Prediction: 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points, -6 rating, 14 PIM
Eakin is going to be a fascinating guy to watch this season. He’s a young kid (21-years-old) and is extremely talented. He’s been doing very well in the AHL this season (11 goals, 12 assists and 23 points are all tied for the team lead) and has been anchoring the top line down in Austin.
He’s been impressive enough that he deserves to have the starting spot on the fourth line for Dallas with a couple of other young kids (would anyone be opposed to Eakin, Reilly Smith and Ryan Garbutt/Tomas Vincour?) as the high energy/we’ll chase the puck into the stands line.
If Dallas prefers to keep him in Austin and get him time there I’d understand, but I really hope he centers that depth line instead of someone like Tom Wandell or Toby Peterson.
2013 Prediction: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +2 rating, 10 PIM
I don’t think there’s a single Stars fan out there that disliked what Garbutt brought to the team last season. The dude was a ball of furious energy that brought a great dynamic to the Stars depth lines last year.
He’s not going to add much on the stat sheet but that’s not what Garbutt is out there to do. Garbutt should be a lock on the team as a depth liner.
2013 Prediction: 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, -1 rating, 18 PIM
Stars fans should know more than enough about Vincour now. He’s a fine energy player that does find himself in a lot of scoring chances. The only problem is that Vincour has hands that a stone statue would be envious of. He just can’t seem to capitalize on 90% of his chances.
Despite his allergy to scoring, Vincour has been a nice player for the Stars and really helps the team fight for the puck. He and Garbutt might cancel each other out a lot though so it’ll be interesting to see if both guys see time on the ice in the same game.
2013 Prediction: 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, 0 rating, 2 PIM
Young Reilly Smith has really exploded onto the scene lately. He had an extremely slow start to his pro career but has suddenly turned into a high powered scoring machine. He started to score a few goals in November and then made December his time to introduce himself to the AHL. He averaged a point per game with eight goals and six assists in 14 games.
He’s obviously made the necessary adjustments in his game to find success and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him on a line with Cody Eakin (who he lines up with in Austin). He’s been a bulldog on the ice with his tenacity in Austin and that would be great to see in Dallas.
2013 Prediction: 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, 6 PIM
Sceviour is one of those guys that are just on the cusp of making making the Stars team. He’s done very well in his AHL career and always finds himself among the leaders on the team across the board offensively. He probably deserves a shot with Dallas but the only problem is that there most likely wouldn’t be too much time for him.
There’s a logjam of young guys just waiting to break into the league with the Stars and he might be the odd man out. Injuries to the senior squad will provide a chance for him but other than that, I don’t see much time for him.
2013 Prediction: 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 0 rating, 0 PIM
What in the world does this team do with Tom Wandell? He’s had ample opportunities in the past to do something, anything, with the top lines of the team but has failed to deliver. He’s been getting a ton of time with his KHL team during the lockout but hasn’t produced overseas either (just two goals and seven assists in 26 games). This is despite the fact that he gets top lines minutes there.
Wandell has a one-way contract so Dallas can’t send him to the AHL. He’s a prime candidate to get scratched nightly or to fill whenever there’s a injury on the team. Don’t expect much if anything at all from Wandell this year and this is probably his last season with the team.
2013 Prediction: 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -2 rating, 6 PIM
I’m not sure what to think about Peterson. He played sparingly for the team last season and with his age and all, doesn’t look like a candidate to start the season with the Dallas Stars. He’s getting plenty of time with the Texas Stars and is a pretty good leader for that team so he’s probably more valuable to them. I only see him getting time with Dallas if they suffer a rash of injuries.
2013 Prediction: 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 0 rating 0 PIM, much more time spent in Austin than in Dallas