Colorado Avalanche Looking Forward to the Dallas Stars

Feb 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) and Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (90) battle for control of the puck in the first half at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) and Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (90) battle for control of the puck in the first half at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche are a long ways off from the season starting unfortunately, but let’s take an early look at the division competition next season, and how the Avs may stack up. Today the Stars stop by.

The Colorado Avalanche have had a wealth of success against the Dallas Stars in recent years, sporting an 11-2-1 record against the Stars since the division realignment at the start of the 2013-14 season.

Both teams play a speed game, but Dallas sported the better all-around team last year, and were able to play well enough to win the division and make it to the second round of the playoffs.

However, Dallas was bound to face some cap struggles this season if they tried to hold onto all the players they had during last year’s run, specifically at the defensive position.

It will be interesting to see how much the subtractions they lost in free agency will detract from the team’s success this coming season; regardless, the Stars are definitely going to be relying heavily on young defensemen, sound familiar?

Changes the Stars Made in the Off Season

The Stars were not busy in free agency, and they didn’t make a trade for a goalie as many were predicting. Instead, they made some internal signings, let players walk in free agency, and signed one biggish name during free agency in Dan Hamhuis.



Well, that’s a lot of addition by subtraction, or so the Stars are hoping. Their top six will stay relatively intact, with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp, and Jason Spezza solidifying their spots in the top six.

The other two players figure to be a combination of Ales Hemsky, Cody Eakin, and Valeri Nichuskin. Either way, their top six is entirely intact from last season.

The bottom six is where they are likely to have some sizable differences next year.

With the departure of Sceviour and Fiddler, the Stars not only lost some valuable bottom six production, but they also lost some real good penalty killers.

I put the point totals above to show the tangible representation of their production, but those two players were pivotal to the Stars penalty kill, and replacing them will be no easy task.

Still, the Stars had the most productive offense in the league last year, and with their top six staying together it’s probable that they won’t see much of a dip in offensive production from their forwards.

The real question the Stars face next season is in the way of their defensive corps. With shaky goaltending at best — the Stars are keeping their tandem of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen together — the Stars will rely heavily on their defense.

More from Mile High Sticking: Looking Forward to Next Season

That’s probably why they went out and got Dan Hamhuis instead of re-signing either Demers or Goligoski — they needed some more grit on their blueline, and have plenty of puck-moving ability in John Klingberg.

Nonetheless, replacing 60 points from the blueline in Demers and Goligoski will be a difficult pill to swallow, and aside from Klingberg, Hamhuis, and maybe Johnny Oduya, the Stars are clearly lacking some top-four defensemen.

That’s where they’ll rely on some much needed improvement from their young defensive prospects.

Esa Lindell, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrick Nemeth, and Stephen Johns figure to be filtered into the lineup in varying roles, but each of them is largely unproven as they have a combined 164 games of NHL experience, and not one of them has played a full season.

If I’m a Stars fan then I am certainly worried about the defensive depth and how that relates to my goaltending, but I’m certainly happy that the top six still poses a formidable threat, and almost promises to be lethal.

How do the Colorado Avalanche Stack up Against the Stars?

Now this is the real question. In case you forgot how our offseason has gone, I’ll give you a short recap.



The Avalanche have held onto all the important pieces of their lineup, and have even added a lot more consistent depth at the defensive position.

The question this year is not going to be defense — although it will be a contributing factor — the real question is how is our top six going to shakeout next season?

Here’s a post I did recently detailing the direction the lineup is currently taking after our free agent acquisitions:

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Obviously the Avalanche are hoping that Colborne is able to build on last season and fulfill a necessary role where he’ll most likely move up and down the lineup.

They’ll also be hoping that Mikko Rantanen is going to take the next step in his development and build on a 60 point season in the AHL by producing in the NHL this coming season.

All-in-all, the Avalanche did not have the most eye-popping free agency period, and they haven’t made any huge trades like many fans were predicting after the dismal end to last season.

Instead, they have made smart salary cap motivated moves, and signed some of their upcoming young talent to contracts that will see them a part of the team for years to come.

They did this while ensuring that they were able to restock the AHL team, provide a new AHL coach to develop their players, and bring in a defensive minded assistant coach for the big club.

Finally, they haven’t lost any of their most productive players to any sort of folly, and have managed their cap well for next season when Jarome Iginla and Brad Stuart come off the books.

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It was a good offseason for the Colorado Avalanche, and one that was a ton better than the Stars.

Sure, the Stars didn’t make any dumb decisions with the cap space they have and RFAs approaching next summer, but they also lost some big producers for their team last season, and will look to fill the voids from within mostly.

The Stars most certainly have some young upcoming talent that is very promising, particularly on the backend, but it’s going to be tough to rely heavily on them, especially when they currently only have two legitimate top four defensemen (Klingberg and Hamhuis).

So, with the threat of the Stars’ offense still strong as ever, they will most certainly be a formidable threat in the Central division this season.

However, I honestly believe that the Avalanche had the better offseason, and may be more prepared as a well-rounded team this coming season than the Dallas Stars seem as of this moment.

Predictions for the Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars

I am predicting more of the same success for the Colorado Avalanche against the Stars next season, and luckily we’ll get to see if my prediction starts off strong on opening night, when the Stars come to town on the 15th of October.

Both teams figure to be very inexperienced on the blueline, but the Avalanche actually have a somewhat legitimate top four that will likely consist of Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Francois Beauchemin, and Fedor Tyutin.

The Stars certainly cannot say the same, but their defensive prospects are nothing to baulk at. Esa Lindell has a particularly bright future ahead of him, and by all accounts seems ready for a larger NHL role.

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Still — and I am biased — the Avalanche should win the season series next year, and will probably do so in similar fashion as the past three years just because they always play well against the Stars, and recent trends point to that continuing.

Either way, watching these two teams figure out their defensive pairings is going to be fun to watch. I can almost guarantee that there will be some large changes on the blueline between game 1 and game 5 between these two teams.

The games will take place as follows:

  • October 15 — opening night at the Pepsi Center
  • November 17 — in Dallas
  • December 3 — in Colorado
  • December 29 — in Dallas
  • April 8 — in Dallas

Thanks for stopping by for this Central Division team preview of the Dallas Stars, we’ll have some more coming up.