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Random Thoughts: Dallas Stars Hockey is Back

The Dallas Stars 2022-23 season is about to begin. Here are some thoughts to ponder.

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The Stars’ 2022-23 regular season begins on Thursday night in Nashville. No time to be messing around. Let’s go straight to the Lightning Round:

  • The way Jim Nill gets his job done is worthy of admiration. Very quietly and professionally he was able to negotiate bridge deals with two of the Stars biggest names, Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson. There was no public animosity and negotiations were done privately with no leaks to the press. Somehow Nill signed two cornerstones of the Stars future without having to shed any additional contracts to be Salary Cap compliant. If Robo and Otter continue on their current trajectory, a Brinks Truck will be needed to deliver money earned, but these negotiations will come after several other salaries have expired. Nill executed a perfect plan for today and has set up the team for tomorrow. 

  • Nill also made headlines with the trade to acquire Nils Lundkvist. The Swedish defenseman has progressed nicely as the preseason has rolled on, showing flashes of offensive brilliance paired with a laser-like one-timer. His defensive game is still a concern, but Lundkvist earned his way on to the Opening Night roster. The big test lies ahead as Lundkvist made the Rangers Opening Night lineup last year but could not stick. Stars are banking on a better outcome this year. 

  • Anton Khudobin has worked hard to get back on the ice and be ready for training camp. But, being waived was imminent as Dobby had a 0-3 record paired with a GAA of 5.47 and a save percentage of .839. The defensive coverage in front of him hasn’t been great, but there is still a long way to go before Khudobin can be in the conversation as a top three goalie in the organization. I hope he can battle his way back, but if this is the beginning of the end, what a great ride it has been.

  • Fun Fact: When Khudobin played for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, he wore UGGs to the rink every day, even if the temperature was 100 degrees. 

  • Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer felt like he was getting two elite players back when the Stars signed Jason Robertson. The Avengers line was reunited and DeBoer is hoping the immediate effect will be felt by the Stars top scoring Center. “Roope plays a big part of this. We want to get him going. He hasn't had a productive preseason. I think he's worked really hard, but I think this obviously helps him too.”

  • Under the category of “Man, does time fly,” comes this little nugget: It was 29 years ago last week that the Dallas Stars played their first NHL regular season game at Reunion Arena. On October 5, 1993, the Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4. The first three goals of the game were scored by Neal Broten, Mike Modano and Steve Yzerman. Not a bad way to make a first impression. 

  • With the paring down of the roster, the Stars can start getting down to work on Special Teams. Last year, the Stars power play was a force to begin the season, then a major liability after the All-Star break. Miro will now run PP1 and a new coaching staff will install its version of the scheme. How this unit progresses will have a lot to do with the team’s success. If Miro gets this unit clicking, it will help his chances to get in the conversation for the Norris Trophy.

  • I don’t know what Jason Dickinson did to deserve such bad karma. First, he sets a Stars record for most times hit in the face during a single season. Now, he gets traded to the Chicago Blackhawks just in time for Tank-a-thon 2023. Sending thoughts and prayers.

  • Maybe Tank-a-thon isn’t catchy enough. I’m torn between “Crashing for Connor” or “Bombing for Bedard.”

  • The biggest learning curve for Wyatt Johnston in the NHL will be the strength and size of opponents. Johnston has vision, hands and speed. But, as we saw against Colorado, going into the corner with someone the size of Erik Johnson (6’ 4”, 225 pounds) is much different than battling another teenager for the puck. Johnston will have to learn how to win these battles with skill because physics don’t lie. 

  • Finally, in World Cup soccer, there is the “Group of Death.” In the NHL, there is the Central Division. With the improvements in the Pacific Division, there is no guarantee that five teams from the Central qualify for the postseason. You can make compelling arguments for six of the eight teams in the division to have a shot at the Stanley Playoffs. Of Colorado, St. Louis, Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg or Dallas, which teams will escape and move on come April? Stars season starts Thursday night. Can’t wait to find out.

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