Getting to know the Western Conference Playoff Teams: The Dallas Stars

Photo credit:© Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
Out of any playoff contender in the Western Conference, the Dallas Stars could be the most challenging team for the Edmonton Oilers.
It’s hard to think of another team that is more well-rounded than they are. Offensively, the Stars rank second in the league with 276 goals, despite their top scorer only having 76 points. In terms of goals allowed, they’ve allowed the 11th-fewest goals in the league this season. As a result, they boast a 47-19-9 record and are in first place in the Western Conference standings. 
Let’s take a look at their offence, defence, and goaltending…

The Stars have seven players with at least 20 goals

Offensively, the Stars have 10 players with 40 or more points, while seven players on the roster have 20 or more goals (but no 30-goal scorer). In terms of goals, Wyatt Johnston’s 29 goals lead the way, but Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, Matt Duchene, Tyler Seguin, and undrafted Mason Marchment all have 20 or more goals.
In terms of points, Robertson leads the way with 76 points, but his career-high of 109 points appears to be far out of reach this season. Other players with 40 or more points include Pavelski, Duchene, Hintz, Johnston, Jamie Benn (who has 18 goals), Marchement, Seguin, and defencemen Miro Heiskanen and Thomas Harley.
The Stars have one of the league’s best top lines with Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski. It’s a good blend of younger talent in Robertson and Hintz, while Pavelski (who is 39 now) provides leadership and scoring ability.
Their second line comprises Marchment-Ducene-Seguin, which is one of their older lines. Marchment went undrafted and has a career-high 20 goals and 51 points as he’s been able to flourish with the Stars. Duchene is having a great bounce-back season, scoring 24 goals and 62 points after signing with the Stars after the Nashville Predators bought him out.
Dallas’ third line has captain Benn on the left wing, as well as two youngsters – Wyatt Johnston at centre and Logan Stankoven at right wing. Wyatt Johnston, who went one pick after Xavier Bourgault, has 29 goals and 59 points this season, which set a new career-high in his sophomore season. Stankoven was called up midway through the season and has six goals and 12 points in 17 games.
The Stars’ fourth line is centred by Sam Steel, with Radek Faska on the left and Craig Smith on the right. Steel has become a good scoring bottom-six player, as he has eight goals and 22 points in 70 games this season, below his career-high 10 goals and 28 points with the Minnesota Wild in 2022-23. Smith has been around since the 2011-12 season, and his 10 goals and 17 points surely help considering he’s on the fourth line.
It’s also worth mentioning that Evgenii Dadonov is on the long-term injured reserve with a “lower-body fracture”, but is expected to be back for the playoffs. This season, the 35-year-old has 12 goals and 23 points in 50 games.
If the Stars need reinforcements from the American Hockey League, right-shot centre Mavrik Bourque leads the Texas Stars with 25 goals and 71 points and will surely be up with the Stars next season. Edmonton Oiler draftee Matěj Blümel has 27 goals and 56 points with Texas, while 2016 third-round Fredrik Karlström has 20 goals and 43 points as well.

Miro Heiskanen leads the way on a deep blueline

Dallas also has a strong defence core, with Thomas Harley becoming a premier offensive defenceman in the league. This season, he has 15 goals and 40 points in his first full season. To his right is a left-shot defenceman in Miro Heiskanen, who currently plays on his off-hand but is still a great two-way defender in spite of that challenge. Unfortunately for the Stars, Heiskanen was picked one pick before Cale Makar.
On their second pairing, they have Esa Lindell on the left side and newly acquired Chris Tanev on the right side. Tanev was their only big trade from the trade deadline, as the Stars moved a 2024 second-round pick as well as a 2026 conditional third-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick for salary retention. They also moved defence prospect Artem Grushnikov.
Their third pairing consists of veteran Ryan Suter on the left side and Nils Lundkvist on the right side. This season, the 39-year-old Suter has two goals and 17 points, while the 23-year-old Lundkvist has two goals and 19 points. Must be nice getting that type of production from your third pairing. 

Jake Oettinger is having a down season 

If there’s one area of concern for the Stars, it’s between the pipes. Jake Oettinger, who was part of the terrific 2017 draft class alongside Heiskanen and Robertson, has a .900 save percentage and a 2.87 goals-against average in 48 games this season. While he has two shutouts and a 30-13-4 record, he hasn’t come quite as advertised this season.
For context, last season Oettinger had a .919 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average, and has a .912 save percentage and a 2.53 goals-against average in 187 career NHL games. However, he did struggle in the 2023 playoffs where he had an .895 save percentage and a 3.06 goals-against average.
Scott Wedgewood has a .901 save percentage in 31 games, a 2.84 goals-against average, and a 16-6-5 record. He’s become a serviceable backup after bouncing around organizations for a few years.

Wrapping up

This game will be a potential Western Conference Final preview as both the Oilers and Stars are heading into the playoffs with Stanley Cup aspirations.
The Oilers will face the Stars on Wednesday for the first time since all the way back in early November. Dallas edged out a 4-3 victory at home in the first meeting between the two teams and it was the first loss for Edmonton in a four-game losing skid that ultimately saw the team make a coaching change.

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