Author: Joe Yerdon

Shawn Horcoff

Dallas’ biggest changes come up the middle

One area of the game that was a major issue for the Dallas Stars last season were faceoffs.

As a team, they were 27th in the league in face off percentage winning just 47.2 percent of their draws. That kind of action won’t let you possess the puck and in a league where that’s of the utmost importance, the Stars struggled.

Dallas’ top four players in taking faceoffs last season were Vernon Fiddler (51.5), Cody Eakin (48.6), Derek Roy (46.7), and Jamie Benn (46.1). Fiddler being the lone guy winning more than half his draws was an issue as he’s a third or fourth line player.

When Dallas acquired Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin, and Shawn Horcoff in separate deals this summer, they managed to address faceoffs in a big way.

Peverley, by far, is the leader in this category finishing second on the Bruins behind Patrice Bergeron winning 58.4 percent of faceoffs. While he didn’t take the bulk of the draws, he was more than effective when he did.

Horcoff throughout his career has hovered around 50 percent in faceoffs. While that’s not terribly impressive, it’s still better than the Stars did as a team. Just last season he won 49 percent and that was good enough to be second on the Stars.

Seguin, a center by trade but a winger in Boston, still had decent success coming away with a win in the circle 48.9 percent of the time.

Faceoffs aren’t as noticeable as goals or assists, but the Stars were so poor in that aspect of the game last season that winning more draws could be enough to help spark their offense. Now they’ve got the players to help make that happen.

Maxim Lapierre virtually begged to sign in Montreal

Maxim Lapierre

When Maxim Lapierre hit free agency this summer, he had his heart set on one particular destination and it wasn’t St. Louis. spoke with Lapierre (link in French) and finds out he did all he could to entice his old team, the Montreal Canadiens, into signing him. Here’s a poorly translated quote from the story.

“I did everything I could to get back with the Canadiens, but I did not figured in their plans,” he told the media at Hockey School Latendresse-Lapierre.

Lapierre spent the first five and a half seasons with Montreal before being traded to Anaheim on New Year’s Eve in 2010. He wound up signing a two-year deal with the Blues instead of landing back with the Habs this summer.

For a guy who doesn’t exactly have a great reputation you kind of feel bad for him that he couldn’t return home. We’ll likely forget all of that when he suits up for the Blues and finds new ways to terrorize the Central Division.

Dallas’ X-Factor: Tyler Seguin

Tyler Seguin, Shawn Horcoff

Perhaps the biggest move of the summer came when the Dallas Stars acquired young star Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins in a blockbuster seven-player deal. While there were other players of varying kinds, the one that brings the most questions is Seguin.

Seguin’s time in Boston ended in controversy as Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli talked at length about his need to essentially grow up. That was followed by quotes from Seguin’s mother saying the Bruins made up stories and rumors of Seguin being under watch during the playoffs to make sure he didn’t wind up partying to all hours.

After all that drama, he finds himself in Dallas and with an opportunity to prove to the Bruins they gave up too quickly on a 21-year-old kid who may have been taking advantage of his celebrity. The question here is: Will that happen? If it does, the Stars could reap the benefits for years to come.

Check out what Seguin did in his first three NHL seasons after being the second overall pick in the 2010 draft.

2010-11:  74 GP  11 G  11 A  12:13 ATOI (average time on ice)
2011-12:  81 GP  29 G  38 A 16:56 ATOI
2012-13:  48 GP  16 G  16 A 17:01 ATOI

His production last season put him on pace for similar numbers to his 11-12 season and with offense being at a premium in Dallas, that’s huge. The 67 points he had that season would’ve put him second on Dallas behind Jamie Benn’s 71. Heck, his 32 points last season would’ve been good enough for second on the team as well.

Obviously coming to Dallas puts him in a new system with new focus on what to do, but it’s hard to think that Seguin’s off-ice “issues” would be enough to derail what he’s shown he could do. Stars GM Jim Nill has confidence in Seguin and that along with Lindy Ruff’s support might be all he needs.

Wings GM Holland doesn’t buy being big wins in the East

Ken Holland

One thing you shouldn’t do is ask Detroit GM Ken Holland is if you need to have a big, physical team to win in the Eastern Conference.

That’s something a Detroit-area radio show did and Holland didn’t agree with that at all as the Detroit Free Press shares.

“A good team in the West is a good team in the East,” Holland said. He added that it’s a “complete fallacy” that the East is big and the West is small and used the Kings and Blues to demonstrate that.

Apparently seeing the Boston Bruins win the East last season provided the idea that being big in the East is what wins. Of course, the Bruins had tons of skill players to go along with their bruisers and had an easy time with the skilled, yet not-so big Penguins in the East finals. The Devils weren’t exactly monsters in 2012 either.

Perhaps the radio hosts were just stirring up another round of wondering if the Red Wings are physical enough to keep pace. They’ve done pretty well doing things how they have for the last 22 seasons.

It’s Dallas Stars day on PHT

Jamie Benn, Mike Modano

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Dallas Stars.

Last season marked yet another disappointment for the Stars. They finished last in the Pacific Division and missed out on the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Doing that while trying to bring fans back to American Airlines Center is rather counterproductive.

This season, they’ll have a lot of new things going for them. New uniforms, a new division, a new coach, and a new set of forwards including a potential star forward who ran into some troubles with his previous team. Is it all going to be enough to get Dallas back to the playoffs? That’s why they play the games.

Offseason recap

Things were a bit busy in Dallas this summer.

Coach Glen Gulutzan was fired and Lindy Ruff now takes over behind the bench. GM Joe Nieuwendyk was ushered out of office and replaced by former Red Wings guru Jim Nill. Meanwhile, top forward Loui Eriksson was dealt to Boston in a blockbuster deal that netted them hotshot forward Tyler Seguin and steady veteran Rich Peverley.

Speaking of steady veterans, the Stars also traded for Edmonton center Shawn Horcoff and Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Veteran goalie Dan Ellis was also brought on board to give Kari Lehtonen more consistent support.

The Stars went the veteran route the previous offseason adding Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr only to see that not exactly work out for the best. This time around they solved issues up the middle and added a real X-factor in Seguin. If his off-ice distractions were a real issue and they’re put aside, the Stars may have found the perfect young guy to team up with their own stud forward Jamie Benn.

After making so many moves, no matter what the Stars will be a team to watch. As they dig into the new Central Division, if things break right they very well may be back in the playoffs.


Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series