If there was a theme to the Dallas Stars’ off-season, it was to getting bigger and meaner.
Bringing back Ken Hitchcock was a big step in that direction. Heck, even Ben Bishop ranks as one of the larger goalies you can find.
Such a pattern carried over to Tuesday, as GM Jim Nill introduced sizable acquisitions Martin Hanzal and Marc Methot. After being a rental with the Minnesota Wild, Hanzal noted his experience in the Western Conference, and said that he signed with Dallas in part because he views the Stars as a “winning team.”
As you can see, Hanzal was especially effusive in his praise of Jamie Benn, deeming him a “top-five player” in the NHL.
One interesting note comes from NHL.com’s Sean Shapiro, who believes that Jason Spezza might move to the wing to make room for the hulking center.
On paper, that’s a sensible idea. Hanzal is a more defensive-minded pivot, so moving Spezza to the wing – whether it’s on Hanzal’s line or not – might free up Spezza to maximize his offensive output.
Hitchcock has been provided with an enviable array of possibilities, including combining Hanzal with another big Stars forward. One could picture a puck-possessing pairing of Hanzal and fellow addition Alex Radulov causing opponents big headaches, especially on rugged West runs with a lot of travel.
Dallas has taken some criticism for being something of a perennial “off-season champion,” so it’s fair to caution against too much daydreaming. Considering his history of injuries, Hanzal likely knows how quickly a good situation can turn sour.
Still, as it stands in mid-July, it’s reasonable to consider the Stars “a winning team” once again.