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Dallas Stars: 2023-2024 Season Preview

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars enter territory they haven’t charted in a hot minute this season: Stanley Cup favorites. A number of mainstream media outlets have picked the Stars as a sexy pick to win it all this season, while many others have them at least duking it out in the Western Conference Final with the Vegas Golden Knights or Edmonton Oilers. But is the hype warranted?

Key Additions/Subtractions

Additions: Matt Duchene
Subtractions: Max Domi, Luke Glendening, Colin Miller

The Stars return a widely unchanged roster that went to the Western Conference Final last season, with the key departure being Max Domi, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season. Domi and the Stars looked destined to sign a new contract, but Matt Duchene’s unexpected availability on the free agency market changed that trajectory.

With limited cap space to work with this offseason, the Stars had the bandwidth to add one major signing. Duchene, who was bought out by the Nashville Predators, became their target, signing a one-year deal for $3 million. He rounded out the top nine for the Stars and is good insurance for injuries in the top six.


Strength: The Core

The Stars have arguably one of the best cores in the league between Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen, and Jake Oettinger. Robertson is coming off of a franchise-best 108 point season since the team relocated to Dallas, made even more impressive by the fact that he missed the entirety of training camp under a new head coach due to a contract standoff. Hintz is garnering a reputation for being one of the most underrated two-way centers in the league.

Heiskanen has vocalized a desire to win the Norris trophy as the best defenseman in the league, and anyone that has watched Dallas since he came into the league knows he’s capable of it. He had the offensive breakthrough all were expecting in a system built to actually capitalize on puck-moving blueliners versus the defensive smothering system they had under previous head coach Rick Bowness.

Oettinger has proven that he is a bona fide number one goaltender in this league, and he’s capable of stealing a playoff series when he’s on. Though he didn’t always look himself last playoffs, much of that can be contributed to the fact that he played the back part of the season and the postseason with an upper-body injury. The key to him being able to play up to where he is capable of this season will be the health of Scott Wedgewood, who sustained an injury late in the season that caused Oettinger to have to play more games than was initially anticipated last year.

Weakness: Defense

The Stars appear to be one of the most well-rounded teams in the league this year, with depth at each position and a mix of veteran experience and youth within the core. So picking a weakness for them seems to be a little on the nit-picky side, but there is one area that can be nit-picked.

It may seem counter-intuitive to put the defense down as the weakness of a team that finished as the third-best in terms of goals against per game average last year behind only the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes. But that’s primarily because Ryan Suter, who will turn 39 this season, is still playing top-pairing minutes in a league that seems to be passing his speed by.

If he slotted down in the lineup, this likely wouldn’t be the weakness of the team.

Biggest Questions

Can the Bennaisance continue?

Jamie Benn had a late-career renaissance last season playing lesser minutes on the third line next to rookie 18-year old center Wyatt Johnston. He had 78 points (33 goals, 45 assists), the most he’s scored since the 2017-18 when he had 79 points. Not having to carry the burden on the penalty kill and top six responsibilities did very well for him. He had the least amount of time on ice on average each game that he’s had since his first year in the league (15:47 in 2023, where he’s been at 18+ minutes since his second season onwards.) The question is whether that performance is repeatable this year or how much more his ice time has to be managed to keep him contributing positively on offense.

Will father time catch up to Joe Pavelski?

A reasonable question when watching what Pavelski has done in the last few seasons would be to wonder when he falls off the cliff like most 35+ forwards are expected to do in the NHL. Somehow, some way, he continues to defy father time’s reaping. On a line with Robertson and Roope Hintz, each of which could easily top the 100-point mark this year, it doesn’t seem likely that Pavelski’s offensive input is going to be negatively impacted any time soon…but crazier things have happened.

Can young defenders Thomas Harley and Nils Lundkvist take the next step in development?

The defense may be the weaker part of the Stars roster, but that can be offset by the forward development of guys like Harley and Lundkvist on the backend. For Harley, the Stars will be looking for him to maintain what he showed late in the season and through the playoffs through the entirety of an NHL season. His emergence into a guy that can play big minutes in support of Heiskanen could also go a long way to solving the Suter question in Dallas.

The Stars traded a first round pick for young gun Lundkvist at the start of last season, seeing someone that struggled to make the roster of the New York Rangers and a potential long-term fit for them to go with the likes of Heiskanen, Harley, and Esa Lindell. He found himself a healthy scratch down the stretch of the season after struggling to find consistency in his performance and never appeared in a playoff game. He put on five pounds of muscle this summer and worked on his skating to help him take that next step and deliver on the first-round-pick expectations he carries as a result of the trade.

Star Players

Jason Robertson

Can anyone claim most underrated when they score 108 points in a season? It seems like Robertson is often overlooked nationally, a criminal offense considering he’s as sneakily good as any of the top forwards in the league. It’ll be tough to top that performance, but all eyes will be on the winger to see what he does next. If his preseason from-behind, between-the-legs in the slot goal is any indication, he’ll be adding to the highlight reel this year.

Roope Hintz

This will be the year that Hintz’s two-way play will finally be recognized. He has the speed to keep up with the likes of Connor McDavid and is always a shorthanded threat. Hintz should be a dark horse Selke candidate.

Miro Heiskanen

Can Heiskanen finally vault himself into the Norris discourse this season? A strong start to the season offensively and being on a Cup contender should give him the opportunities to show the voters in the Professional Hockey Writers Association exactly why he’s one of the game’s current elite defenseman — on both sides of the puck.

Under the Radar

Can you consider a Cup-contending team as under the radar? Maybe you can if that team is the Dallas Stars. There never seems to be enough respect for the team and its players because of the market they play in. But with national media paying attention finally, players like Heiskanen, Hintz, Robertson, and Oettinger earmarked as front-runners for individual hardware this year, and many choosing them to win the Stanley Cup, there’s nothing “under the radar” about the Stars this year.

Key Rookie

No rookies made the Stars out of training camp, but eyes should be on a pair of forwards in the wings. Mavrik Bourque and Logan Stankoven appear to be knocking on the door. Should the team get into injury trouble, these guys will have the chance to come and make a case for not going back to the AHL again. The question will be which one will take it and run with it when the time comes.