The 2021 NHL season starts in a bit less than 2 months. The Stars opening game against the New York Rangers is at Madison Square Garden on October 14th.
There is a fair bit of business for the team to get through before that time.

Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

As of right now, the Stars have one too many players on their roster (against a maximum roster size of 23) and $0 in projected cap space. That’s not to say that there won’t be a trade or two before the deadline, but it seems unlikely the Stars are in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes at this point. 

First up for Stars fans is the Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, from September 16-20th.

The five teams participating in the tournament are the Stars, Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues. The tournament is more intriguing than ever this year, with so many young players missing all or part of last season due to the pandemic. Wyatt Johnson, the Stars’ 23rd overall pick in 2021, had an impressive first season with the Windsor Spitfires in 2019. The young center didn’t play a single game last season until the World Junior Cup in Frisco due to the suspension of the OHL. He put up solid numbers in the tournament staged by the Stars, but management must be keen to see how he looks in Victory Green.

Following the Prospect Tournament, the Stars Training Camp opens at the Comerica Center on 23 September. There are plenty of questions for the Stars to resolve.

How does the Goalie situation play out? Much depends on the health of Ben Bishop. Right now, one must assume that the starting pairing on opening night will be Khudobin and Holtby. Oettinger will likely start the season in Texas. This raises some eyebrows as in the 2020-2021 season, Holtby’s 0.887 SV% and 3.67 GAA was significantly worse than either Khudobin (0.905, 2.54) or Oettinger (0.911, 2.36).

The Stars seem to be betting that Holtby can rebound with a more solid defense in front of him than the (admittedly diabolical) Canucks. However, the Stars haven’t been and are unlikely to be a team that can outscore poor goaltending in the immediate future. If Bishop’s knee allows him to come back at or near full health, the Stars have a question about what to do with seemingly one too many veteran goaltenders on their bench. 

Another question for the Stars is who fills out a spot on defense.

It seems like the top four are most likely to be Klingberg, Lindell, Heiskanen, and off-season signing Ryan Suter, which leaves a (most likely) four-way battle come Camp for the bottom pairing among Anders Sekera, Jani Hakanpää (another off-season signing), Joel Hanley, and highly touted prospect Thomas Harley. 

The Stars have some openings in the forward lines, too, with the trade of Jason Dickinson to the Canucks and Andrew Cogliano leaving in free agency.

The Stars will be looking for a strong start to the season this year, with early wobbles in the shortened and condensed season last year ultimately costing them dearly, but it won’t be until shortly before opening night that we know for sure what the 2021-2022 Dallas Stars look like.
Fans will be hoping that come October 14th; they look like a Cup contending team.

Featured Image: Seth Wenig/AP
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