We are now less than 70 days away from the first preseason puck-drop of the 2014-2015 season. With the dust of the draft and free agency now settled, we get back to our positional reviews for last season. Did you miss our goalie review? Catch up on part 1 here. Now, here's part 2 - the blueliners.
- Name: Trevor Daley
- Age: 30
- From: Toronto, Ontario
- Contract Status: 6 year, $19.8 million deal through 2016-2017 (Source: capgeek.com)
2014: When you think of "veteran leadership" on the Star's roster a few different names have come to mind over the past few years - Modano, Ott, Morrow, and Robidas just to name a few. Now, however, it's Trevor Daley. Drafted by the Stars in 2002, Daley entered his 10th season with the team in 2013-2014. I joked in a previous article that there are 3 eventualities in life; "death, taxes, and the Stars looking for a backup goaltender in the off season". Well, I'll add one more - Trevor Daley scoring atleast 20 points in a season. Excluding the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season Daley has put up at least 22 points his last 6 campaigns. In 2013-2014 that streak would continue. In the regular season Trevor would score 25 points by the way of 9 goals and 16 assists in 67 games played. Despite the team's midseason slump, Daley and his partner Alex Goligoski were firmly established as the team's top duo and were a big part of the push to the playoffs. Daley was the last Star remaining with the team that was a part of the teams last trip to the post season in 2008, and with his return this season he did not disappoint. With 2 goals - including the incredible breakaway goal early in game 6 - and 3 assists in the 6 game series against Anaheim, Daley outgunned even Tyler Seguin in production.
2015 Expectations: It's not out of the question, and I'd personally say an eventuality, that Trevor starts the season with a well-deserved extra vowel on the front of his jersey. Another 20+ point season, 60-70 games played, a decent plus/minus..... Trevor Daley will continue to be the personification of 'consistency' in the Stars locker room.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: B+
- Name: Alex Goligoski
- Age: 28
- From: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- Contract Status: 4-year, $18.4 million deal through 2015-2016 (Source: capgeek.com)
2014: Alex Goligoski is a sort of pariah among Stars fans...... and, honestly, I'm not exactly sure why. Come every trade deadline since his arrival to the team in 2011 his name is on the books according to people on twitter. The fanbase is caught in one of two extremes when the Goligoski topic comes up - love him, or trade him ASAP. Personally, I'm a big Goligoski fan. Yes, the Stars gave up James Neal and Matt Niskanen to get him. Yes, he has made a few defensive gaffes. There were expectations placed on him when he arrived that were, in all reality, unrealistic. But does he deserve the "pitchforks and torches" treatment on social media? Absolutely not. And this season, "goose" silenced a lot of his critics. The top line duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, of course, took 1st and 2nd in points during the regular season...... but 3rd? Guess who. 6 goals and a whopping 36 assists in 81 games played - a tie for the team lead in games played along with Benn, Eakin, and Roussel. In the post season, Goligoski lead the team in plus/minus at +7, and scored 1 goal and 3 assists.
2015 Expectations: Bottom line - he's not going anywhere. He shouldn't go anywhere. After this season if you still want him gone, you have some personal vendetta issues to work through. Alex Goligoski is one half of the Stars go-to defense pairings and will be for some time to come. If he can post another 40+ point season the voices of his critics will go completely silent.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: A
- Name: Brenden Dillon
- Age: 23
- From: New Westminster, British Columbia
- Contract Status: Restricted free agent - Offer made 6/30/14
2014: Sophomore slump? Not so much here. In his second year on the big team Dillon continued to grow as a reliable and physical defenseman. When you take in to account his physical, as well as sacrificial shot blocking, style - playing a total of 80 games is tremendous. 6 goals and 11 assists may not be earth shattering, but it is improvement. Suffering a lower body injury in the second to last game of the season against St. Louis, Dillon missed the first 4 games of the 6 game series against Anaheim. And his presence on the blueline was certainly missed. In his return in game 5, however, an errant pass and poor puck possession directly lead to 2 goals in the Stars 6-2 loss to the Ducks.
2015 Expectations: There's one major thing to remember here - he's 23. He's learning. He's growing. Health issues are not a concern as Dillon seemed borderline invincible during parts of the season. There were moments of panic when he'd miss a shift or be taken to the locker room, but like clockwork - he'd be out there for the next period. However, there's a huge issue - he's not signed yet. A restricted free agent at the end of 2014, he was offered a deal before the start of free agency. As of now, we wait for the parties involved to sort it out.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: B
- Name: Jordie Benn
- Age: 26
- From: Victoria, British Columbia
- Contract Status: 3-year, $2.1 million deal through 2015-2016 (Source: capgeek.com)
2014: The elder of the Benn brothers did not have the best season in 2012-2013. He was shaky and seemed out of touch with the play at times. There was some debate, coming into the year, as to what jersey Jordie would be wearing in 2013-2014 - victory green, or the familiar green/white/gold of the Texas Stars. But Benn would establish his spot quickly on the top roster. Jordie was arguably the best defender in the regular season finishing the year at +16, tied with Tyler Seguin for 3rd on the team. While not stellar in terms of production, scoring 3 goals and 17 assists, Benn showed vast improvements in his play over the previous season.
2015 Expectations: Growth. Like his partner, Brenden Dillon, Jordie is still young and very much learning and growing with the Stars. If his growth from season to season continues in to 2015, Benn will push towards being one of the top blueliners on the roster.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: B+
- Name: Kevin Connauton
- Age: 24
- From: Edmonton, Alberta
- Contract Status: 3-year, $2.05 million deal through 2015-2016 (Source: capgeek.com)
2014: Kevin Connauton was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in April of 2013 with the hope of him bringing his successful offernsive defenseman AHL play to the NHL. So far, it seems, that has not panned out. Some of it through no fault of his own. Connauton found himself a healthy scratch often, only playing in 36 games in 2013-2014. When injuries, mainly to Stephane Robidas, started to pile up he finally got his chance with some steady ice time. But the results aren't there yet. Kevin only managed 1 goal and 7 assists during the regular season, and was in the negative in plus/minus at -6. In the post season he didn't register a point.
2015 Expectations: We can hope Connauton finds his game. So far, it's MIA. But, it was his rookie season. He never really got good solid ice time. Hopefully through training camp and the preseason, he gets good time and can get in a groove that he showed in the AHL.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: C-
- Name: Sergei Gonchar
- Age: 40
- From: Chelyabinsk, Russia
- Contract Status: 2-year, $10 million deal through 2014-2015 (Source: capgeek.com)
2014: We all know where this is going. Segei Gonchar's play this season was less than stellar to say the least. He was disappointed. The coaching staff and front office were disappointed. The fans were....well.....you see where this is going. Gonchar had the worst plus/minus among defenders at -12. He was just never really there. Contributing some points, with 2 goals and a respectable 20 assists, his play left a lot to be desired. Gone are his days of near 60 point seasons like in the early 2000's.
2015 Expectations: Honestly, I didn't think I'd be writing this part around the start of free agency. I figured Jim Nill would trade Gonchar and make room for some of the up and coming names with the Texas Stars. But here we are. There's a lot of room for improvement in Gonchars game, undoubtedly. But at 40 years old, how much improvement can realisticly be made? Time will tell.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: F
- Name: Stephane Robidas
- Age: 37
- From: Sherbrooke, Quebec
- Contract Status: Traded to the Anaheim Ducks March 4th, 2014 - Signed a 3-year $9 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1st, 2014 (Source: capgeek.com)
2014: Yeah. This hurts. Robidas was brought to the Stars in 2002 from the Montreal Canadiens. Since then, he's been the quiet grinder fan favorite. More than once, Robi even played a reluctant goalie - jumping in to the net to cover a wandering Marty Turco or Kari Lehtonen. In late November, Robidas suffered a broken leg against the Chicago Blackhawks that would sideline him the majority of the year. As Robi recovered and was preparing to return to the Stars lineup, the unthinkable happened. The Stars traded him to Anaheim for draft picks. It was bitter sweet. We all knew the reason behind it - Robidas wanted the cup. He had a better chance with the Ducks. End of story. Fast forward a few months, and the Stars run in to the Ducks and Stephane Robidas in the first round of the playoffs. His return to in game 3 Dallas was a horror story. Racing for a puck in the corner, Robidas and a charging Ryan Garbutt collided, with Garbutt hitting Robida's legs. Robidas went down obviously in pain and stayed down. He had broken his leg..... again. He was carried off the ice by his teammates with the crowd at American Airlines Center giving him a standing ovation and chanting his name.
2015 Expectations: I usually wont do this for players not returning. But Robi is very much a "once a Star, always a Star" type of case. Robidas signed a 3-year, $9 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll make his return to Dallas on December 23rd and will no doubt be welcomed back warmly by the Dallas Stars faithful.
Completely Arbitrary Season Grade: An honorary A++++++