*I’d like to welcome Adam Lewis to the All In Hockey team, who has been a dedicated and passionate hockey fan for the past several years. He’s a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to stats and we look forward to having him contribute*
Since the end of the 2016-2017 season there have been many transactions made by teams in the NHL, especially with the expansion draft this year. However, there is one team that stands out with not necessarily the amount of moves they have made, but the quality of them- the Dallas Stars.
They started out by firing coach Lindy Ruff and hiring former St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock, who had previously won the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, is also currently 2nd among active coaches for wins and 4th all time for wins. They also went on to add Rick Wilson and Stu Barnes as assistant coaches.
Then on May 9th, they made a trade for the rights to Ben Bishop’s contract and signed him to a six-year $29.5 million contract ($4,916,667 AAV). This is automatically a huge upgrade at the goaltending position, especially when considering the two goalies the Stars had last season were Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. Last season Niemi posted a 3.30 GAA and a .892 SV% in 37 games while Lehtonen posted a 2.85 GAA and a .902 SV% in 59 games. After trading for Ben Bishop and signing him to the six-year contract he got, they bought out the contract of Antti Niemi. It makes perfect sense to buy out Niemi considering his number were worse the Lehtonen’s by a fairly large amount. Even though Lehtonen didn’t have the greatest numbers either, if they move Bishop to the starting role and limit Lehtonen’s amount of games played you could see his numbers rise considerably compared to last year.
The Stars also made a huge upgrade to their defense by trading Dylan Ferguson (G) and a 2020 second round draft pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Marc Methot. Methot will instantly step into the lineup and play top-four minutes or higher, including the PK and possibly the PP. They also signed contract extensions to Patrik Nemeth and Esa Lindell who both could be making a push to be in the starting lineup on opening night.
Dallas added some major depth up front as well with the signings of Martin Hanzal and Alexander Radulov. Hanzal signed a three-year $14.25 million ($4.75 AAV) contract with the Dallas Stars. Hanzal adds a lot of center depth to the Stars lineup and also adds some size at 6’6 and 226 lbs. Radulov adds some more scoring depth on the wing for the Stars, agreeing to a five-year $31.25 million deal ($6.25 AAV). Last season, his first season in the NHL since the 11-12 season, he posted 18 goals and 36 assists for 54 points with the Montreal Canadiens in 76 games.
With all of these deals the Stars have made since the end of the season, they have added a lot of depth at multiple positions and they are arguably the most improved team since the end of the season. Especially with the addition of one of the greatest coaches of all time, the rest of the central division and the entire league as a matter of fact better watch out for the Dallas Stars next season.