Tis the season.
Let’s be honest here, it’s much more cost-effective to hand out imaginary presents on paper than actually pay for stuff. Since by this time next week, Santa should have come down the chimney, here are some holiday presents the Dallas Stars could use and possibly even enjoy.
Tyler Seguin: Permanent Linemates.
The Stars have a legitimate top-eight forwards, but that one missing piece is needed. Last season, as Seguin improved from major surgery, the right combination was never found. Until recently, Seguin had one wingman in Mason Marchment but was looking for a forward to make their trio complete. Ty Dellandrea, Denis Gurianov, Matej Blumel, Jacob Peterson, and Radek Faksa have all had their opportunity to ace the audition. Seguin needs stability, and soon.
Nils Lundkvist: Three years experience.
It’s not easy to adjust to smaller rinks, a new country, and playing against the best players in the world simultaneously. Lundkvist had growing pains last year and did need a “reset” this season, but the talent is there for all to see. In three years, he will be running one of the Stars power play units and playing more than 20 minutes a night as a Top-3 in the rotation. Three years of NHL knowledge could really be useful.
Ryan Suter: Three years of time reversal.
This is 180 degrees turn from the previous gift. Lundkvist has youth and speed but lacks knowledge. Suter has tons of hockey education, but father time is still undefeated. The veteran defenseman will be 38 in January and at times has struggled with speedier players this season. A little more quickness to his game would be the perfect stocking stuffer.
Could the pairing of Suter and Lundkvist make a reappearance?
The Finnish Mafia: A NIL Deal.
How are there high school seniors driving Porsches while these guys don’t even have a t-shirt emblazoned with their pictures? I know we have some copyright issues, but a Godfather theme is perfect. Plenty of merchandise would look great with a family portrait of Esa Lindell as Vito Corleone, Miro Heiskanen as Michael Corleone, Roope Hintz as Sonny Corleone, and Joel Kiviranta as Tom Hagen. Jani Hakanpaa could be a smarter and much better-looking Luca Brasi. These would absolutely fly off the shelves.
Jake Oettinger: A Vezina Trophy Nomination.
The Stars netminder is going to get a few of these over the course of his career. I just want to be the first to give one to Otter.
Wyatt Johnston: 10 pounds. I’d be happy to donate, if possible.
Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn: One more run at the Stanley Cup.
Both these veterans and leaders have been everything the Stars could have asked for this season. However, both are missing a Stanley Cup ring to solidify their legacy. When you think of the 2020 Stanley Cup run, the image of Jamie Benn alone in the locker room after Game 6 vs Tampa stands out. The Captain and Captain America deserve one more chance.
That’s all I have to offer. For everyone else, a donation in your name has been made to The Human Fund.
And now some Random Thoughts
- The Stars trailed going into the third period on the road in both Washington and Carolina and walked away with three out of a possible four points. That alone makes the current road trip a success. The game Monday in Columbus will decide whether the excursion is a good road trip or a great one.
- The hit Ryan Reaves put on Filip Hronek was clean. The big mistake was made when the Red Wings Defenseman turned his head and looked away from Reaves while moving up ice. At all levels of hockey, players are taught not to put their head down or look away from on-coming forecheckers. Reaves' skates were both on the ice when contact was made. Hronek put himself in a vulnerable position.
- The Texas Stars are the hottest team in the AHL. The Dallas Stars top farm club has won seven in a row and sit atop the Central Division. The team has a good mix of veterans and young prospects. Off-season acquisition Riley Barber leads Texas with 15 goals while captain Curtis McKenzie provides mentorship to young players trying to take the next step in their careers.
- Goaltender Anton Khudobin seems to have found his game in Cedar Park as well. Dobby’s numbers are a respectable 9-3-2 with a GAA of 2.50 and a save percentage of .918. If these numbers continue to improve, there might be demand for the veteran netminder as the NHL trade deadline gets closer. More on this soon.
- There have been preliminary discussions within the NHL of expanding to an 84-game regular season and putting an emphasis on geographical rivalries. The Battle of Alberta, Rangers vs Islanders, and all blood feuds create excitement and need more than three games a year. BUT…the league cannot create more rivalry games at the expense of a schedule where all teams play at least one game in every NHL arena. Having a chance to see Connor McDavid or the Toronto Maple Leafs in your town once every three years, (like it was before the lockout of 2012) is not the answer.
- The Dallas Stars will not have a large representation at the upcoming World Junior Championships. However, they will have two players very much worth watching. Logan Stankoven is going for back-to-back gold medals on the heavily favored Team Canada squad. 2022 First-Round selection Lian Bichsel will represent Switzerland after working out his differences with the Swiss Hockey Federation. The 18-year-old defenseman was a standout at the 2021 U-18s in Plano and scouts are anxious to see his progression at the next level.
- Finally, Joe Pavelski scoring on a deflection in his 1,200th NHL game seemed appropriate. Wayne Gretzky was the best when he possessed the puck behind the opposition net. Alexander Ovechkin owns the left circle on the power play. It’s time to label the low slot, “Pavelski’s Office”. No one has worked harder and had more success at the art of deflection than Pavs.
And to all…..good night.