It has been a strange year for the Dallas Stars organization.
The team started with high expectations, began the year flat, fired a coach, and were on a 6-game losing streak prior to the pause of the season. Despite all the adversity the team has faced, numerous players have taken important steps in development.
Hockey is more than scoring goals or the basic quantifiable numbers. Advanced analytics has begun to help tell that story and show players importance in the game despite not filling up the stat sheet.
There are things that even advanced analytics cannot quantify, however.
Leadership is one such thing and is something important to acknowledge on this Stars roster.
Dickinson was on pace to be a double-digit goal scorer and record the most points as a Star thus far in his career. His faceoff percentage was ticking up as well, still needs improvement, but he will get there. But ignoring the stats for a moment, the most important thing for Jason is he has shown some important leadership skills this season. He has readily taken responsibility and is not afraid to answer questions honestly.
Before the season began, Jason was selected to the Stars rep for the NHLPA. While it may not seem like an esteemed honor, it is a sign that the players trust him to do the job and do it well. Dickinson goes about his business and gets the job done, no matter how many times you hit him in the face. On the eventful day when Jamie hangs up his skates, Jason should be choice number one to take over the captaincy.
Captains lead by example and do not always have to put up prominent stats. Brenden Morrow, a fan favorite and excellent Captain for Dallas, only had two thirty goal seasons. Jason would always be able to call upon Jamie if he needed advice too, a most valuable resource.
When looking at growth within the Stars organization, it would be amiss to exclude Jason Robertson. While Jason had been putting up some impressive stats in the OHL, the question surrounding him was his skating ability. Robertson has great speed, but his ability to win short distance races to pucks was a question given his poor first step.
In his first season as a pro, he improved his skating while also co-leading the Texas Stars in scoring. His defense still needs work, but that will come in time as he learns to be a pro. But, getting his first NHL point and ending Tyler Seguin’s scoring streak is a pretty good start to his professional career.
Justin is a player who has grown fonder in the hearts of Stars fans over this season. He finally scored his first NHL goal and followed it up with 2 more in Western Canada. He has become more of a threat offensively and has shown to have been a spark for the team. Last year, some fans were bemoaning wondering why was he still on the roster over other players in Cedar Park who could seemingly be more of a difference-maker. This season Justin has shown and earned his spot on the Stars roster. He isn’t a top-six forward, but he is the kind of player the Stars need on their team.
Dowling’s growth though mostly comes off the ice. Megan and Justin welcomed their first child earlier this year. His Instagram account constantly provides heartwarming and cute moments whether it be of his wife and child or his dog’s shenanigans. Despite an injury-riddled season for him, he has kept his spirits high clearly and is providing the fans with good content to help distract from the world. Hopefully, his game will continue to improve and he can help the Stars lift the Cup whenever we get back to hockey.
Adversity often brings out the best or the worst in people and the same is true in players. Dallas is no stranger to adversity given the drama surrounding the team for the past three seasons. But despite the strangeness and difficulty of this year, many of the players grew and developed because of it.
Other players certainly are worthy of being included here such as Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov, but those are a given and already receive their due, except the coaching staff.
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