A lot of dominoes are falling the right way for Dallas. Not only have perennial underachievers Tyler Seguin (pictured) and Jamie Benn found their scoring touches again, but a new star has emerged in Dallas in the form of Jason Robertson – who in his second full season put up 79 points in 74 games and then followed that up last season with his second consecutive 40 goal season and 109 points.
Also, he was an eye-popping +66 last season. How is a hockey player even that good defensively? I have no idea. Then there’s 39-year-old Joe Pavelski, who shows no signs of slowing down even at his age, which is practically 55 for an NHL player’s career (sort of like dog years). Somehow he put up 20+ goals for the third straight season and 77 points, with another eye-popping +42. Roope Hintz put up 30+ goals for the second straight year last season.
Evgeni Dadonov, who will likely crack the 500-game mark this season, is a useful veteran acquired at the trade deadline by Dallas last season who put up 15 points in 23 games after coming over from the rebuilding Habs to the contenders in Dallas. I fully expect him to crack the 20-goal mark once again in a full season with this top six.
Even the third line is stacked with the aforementioned Seguin centering Mason Marchment, a young player who hasn’t cracked the 200-game mark yet but already showing himself to be a quality veteran winger, and newcomer Matt Duchene, recently bought out by the Nashville Predators and ready to rebound in a big way. Even the fourth line is a scoring force, with Ty Dellandrea and Radek Faksa both putting up 20+ points last season, solid production for fourth-liners. Newcomer Craig Smith, who only played 22 games last year, should fit in well on this line as he’s a veteran of 853 NHL games.
And then there’s the D corps (giggity). Not as flashy as their forwards but still a great group. Miro Heiskanen, who finished seventh amongst d-men in the NHL in scoring last season with 73 points, anchors the corps. His partner is veteran Ryan Suter, who was good for 25 points last season and 32 the season before, also staying at or just past the 0 point in +/-. The second pairing still needs a little seasoning, but Jani Hakanpaa looks poised to hit 20 points after 16 the season before and 12 the season before that. Stay-at-home guy Thomas Harley is his partner, who rocketed up to +5 last season from -4 the season before. This is arguably the Achilles heel of the team this season.
Even the bottom-pairing guys are capable of contributing – Esa Lindell had 24 points last season while Nils Lundkvist had 16.
They’re good to go between the pipes too. Even though he’s only at 139 games Jake Oettinger looks right on the cusp of NHL stardom, putting up a .919 sv% and 2.37 GAA last season – and his stats have improved every year he’s been in the league. One of the few starter-caliber goalies in the NHL. Backing him up is Scott Wedgewood, a career backup who put up numbers almost as good as Oettinger – .915 and 2.72. That’s a great tandem.
With these pieces in place, it’s no wonder Dallas went to the conference finals last season and could be again as this is a pretty formidable team. If the Oilers run into them on their path it would be a good battle.