Pro Hockey Talk has its Stars preview up, with thoughts on several categories.
Best case scenario: Kari Lehtonen stays healthy and provides the Stars with stable, sometimes splendid goaltending. Their defense scraps and survives. Financial inspiration helps Brad Richards match his 91-point output. A second year removed from knee surgery helps Morrow bounce back, which also enhances Mike Ribeiro's game. The Stars score enough to cover up other blemishes and they take advantage of a weakened division to steal the second spot in the Pacific and make a respectable run to the second round of the playoffs.
ESPN.com this week offered its 10 things to know, including Kari Lehtonen's reliability, depth, the sale of the team, Adam Burish, Mike Ribeiro, and questions about the team's defense.
"We've got four guys there who are still in developmental stages, whether it's [Matt] Niskanen, Grossman, Fistric or even [Trevor] Daley," Crawford said. "They've all now played in pretty much key opportunities -- Niskanen with the power play, Fistric and Grossman on the penalty kill and Daley in all situations.
"Those four guys were really focal points on our blue line last year, and you have to think they'll keep on getting better simply because they've seen everything they're going to see now, and we're hopeful that's going to be the case."
ESPN also issued its first NHL power rankings, and the Stars come in at number 15, eighth in the West.
In Dallas, it's "Extreme Makeover: Team Edition." No more Mike Modano or Marty Turco. Instead, Loui Eriksson and James Neal will attempt to be the new stars in Big D. "They have a young group," confirms Kings center Anze Kopitar. "Brenden Morrow obviously can score and is a good leader, so it'll be interesting to see how they start off."
Mark Stepneski takes a look at another young player, Tomas Vincour and says that he is getting close. Marc Crawford seems to like him.
"I remember calling Joe [Nieuwendyk] after the game and saying, ‘Joe, this kid is really, really smart,'" Crawford said.
"He's always in the right place. He's got great instincts. He's also got good puck protection skills. He's also got a very good shot," said Crawford. "The question is can he handle the impact of NHL bodies, can he get his game and his intensity at the level that it can be. For me there's no doubt he's going to play, it's just how soon. We're very excited about Tomas. He's a very bright prospect for the Dallas Stars."