Some of the biggest news this off-season across the NHL was the departure of John Klingberg from Dallas. It was the biggest story of the Dallas Stars too. The team will need to gel, and adjust without the long term Star who’s been suiting up for the last eight years, but the Stars should be talented and deep enough at defense to fight for a 2023 playoff spot.
With John Klingberg moving on, Miro Heiskanen is now the lone number one defenseman on the team. This means more minutes, and more jobs on the ice such as more time quarterbacking the power play. David Castillo at Dallas Magazine predicts a ‘breakout’ season with John Klingberg leaving, and a new head coach in Pete DeBoer.
“Why DeBoer specifically? Because he’s shown he can get the most out of his top defenders. The game has changed, and nowhere is hockey’s evolution more obvious than in the role of the modern defender. Compare and contrast the unlimited space defenseman used to have in the 1980s breaking out of their own zone. Consider the tactics that have gone out of style, like the D-to-D pass. The position is now functionally positionless, with players such as Cale Makar leading the way as “rovers” of the new age (which, ironically, is derived from a prior age). DeBoer understands this better than most. In San Jose, even shutdown defenders such as Marc-Edouard Vlasic had to adjust to playing with the puck more aggressively. When DeBoer took over Gerard Gallant’s struggling Knights, the first thing that changed was more offense from the blueline. Sure enough, in 2021, the Knights were driven to the playoffs by the league’s best back-end production.”
Esa ‘the heart of the defense’ Lindell
Esa Lindell is no doubt that defensive defenseman every team wants to have. Known for doing all of the dirty work. From blocking shots to killing penalties. As well as dishing out hits like this one.
Dallas Stars’ Senior Staff Writer Mike Heika thinks that we could start seeing more of an offensive side of Lindell with the departure of John Klingberg.
“The biggest challenge for Lindell this season will be that he will not have his normal defensive partner John Klingberg by his side. That could actually be a good thing, as it will allow Lindell to stretch his offensive legs and also see what he can do with a new partner. Could he be the perfect complement to Miro Heiskanen? That makes sense. Could he and Jani Hakanpaa form a great shutdown pair? That’s also a possibility.”
“One area where Lindell could get a great opportunity is on the power play. He saw his man-advantage time last season cut from a little over a minute a game to 26 seconds. While Thomas Harley and Colin Miller will be in the battle for power-play minutes, Lindell could get a real chance (especially if he’s playing beside Heiskanen on a regular basis). He tallied 11 goals and 21 assists back in 2018-19, so the potential is there to do more, it seems.”
The rest of the starting d-core
For the rest of the defensive lineup, the Stars are still looking pretty strong. The other four regular starters are projected to be Jani Hakanpaa, Ryan Suter, Thomas Harley, and recently acquired Colin Miller.
Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today
Jani Hakanpaa is a big guy on defense who could see more playing time, and play a bigger role under new head coach Pete DeBoer. Veteran Ryan Suter hopes to prove doubters wrong, and continue playing as a top four defenseman. Thomas Harley is another player looking for a big year for 2023, and newly signed Colin Miller is looking to fill in some of the void John Klingberg left as well.
The Texas Stars pipeline
Occasionally, the Dallas Stars are going to see faces popping up from the American Hockey League affiliate In Texas. One of those guys is defenseman Ben Gleason. With John Klingberg leaving, and the inevitably of injuries the defenseman could get a chance to make a splash in Dallas in a call up from Austin. Maybe in the playoffs too.
The postseason is known to turn unknown players into legends. Such as this guy here.
While there was big change on the blue line, the Stars are deep enough on defense to help fight for a 2023 playoff spot.
Featured photo: Chase Agnello/NHLI