It was an exciting time to be a Dallas Stars fan this season.
Starting with the offseason, the front office with Jim Nill and company made another splash trade getting Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns from the Blackhawks. Signing goaltender Antti Niemi gave the Stars another proven starter easing the pressure off Kari Lehtonen and keeping him fresh for the postseason. Their impact, and many others, help the Stars win their first Conference Title since 2006. Their Stanley Cup run gave the fans 13 additional games winning the series versus the Wild and a win away from playing in the Conference Championship.
A part from the team success, individuals flourished this season. Captain Jamie Benn finished with 89 points and 41 goals, both second only to Patrick Kane, stamping him as a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player). There was three players with 30 or more goals (Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza). John Klingberg proved that he play at a top level for a full season ranking top five for points by defenseman. And the Head Coach received his dues as Lindy Ruff was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award given to the league’s most successful coach.
“Well, we put together a heck of a year,” Ruff said on SportsDay reflecting on the season. “I think first and foremost we looked at some areas we wanted to improve in those areas, improved and we moved forward and we ended up in a real good place in a tough division, ended up one game away from advancing, which that’s the sting.”
Yet, you get the feeling the Dallas Stars have not reached their top potential. The core of the team is still young with several players in their early to mid-20s. The Stars went through the postseason without Tyler Seguin after his achilles injury. Can’t help but wonder how his presence would’ve effected the Blues series.
But there is still questions to be answered. The defense looked timid in crucial moments in games, goaltending had their dubious moments and special teams struggled in the postseason.
“When you look at next year, there’s a couple areas that we need to improve,” Ruff continued on SportsDay about the team going into next season. “I think that you got to push forward.”
There are questions and concerns to be answered this offseason. Some veteran defensemen’s contract expired including Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Kris Russell. Tyler Seguin’s injury will be closely monitored, and is there anything to be done different about the goaltending situation?
Just take in every amazing moment. Nothing is guaranteed in this league and teams are never the exact same the next year. The 2016 Stars were a fun and entertaining bunch and it’s safe to say we are all looking forward to the games to be back in October.