On paper, the Dallas Stars are 2024 Stanley Cup contenders. This past season they were one of the last four teams standing.
Dallas will be returning this fall with a more experienced and overall better lineup. But they’re not a perfect team.
The defense will be the biggest thing standing between them and the silver trophy.
While the D-core is playoff caliber, it isn’t built to win a championship. At least not yet.
Miro Needs Help
There’s no debate that Miro Heiskanen is the number one defenseman in Dallas. He gets the minutes. Heiskanen is known for his Sergei Zubov-esque offense and skating abilities. Miro is also one of the best shutdown defensemen in the game. He propels one of the best defenses in the NHL.
However, if the Stars are to win the Stanley Cup, others in the lineup need to step up their game. When the Vegas Golden Knights won it all, their head coach Bruce Cassidy talked about team defense at the beginning. And that team game is what it’s going to take if the Stars go on to be champion next year.
The Ryan Suter Query
The elephant in the room on the defense debate is definitely Ryan Suter. Most would get behind parting ways with the vet. However, there are arguments to keep Suter on the team.
Suter has shown to be inconsistent at best. His experience can help the team in many situations. But a buyout could open up the defense and put Dallas ahead of other western conference contenders like the 2023 champ in Vegas.
Young Guys Need to Step Up
Thomas Harley and Nils Lundkvist are needed to raise their game.
Lundkvist has had a year of the Dallas system under his belt, so he should be able to build it off of a year that was an overall net positive 2023.
Harley has the potential to be one of, if not the biggest, breakout players for the Stars this coming season.
“I think I’m ready. I think I showed in the playoffs that I belong in the NHL and that I can be an impact player on a winning team. I‘ve just got to work hard this summer, have a good camp and show what I can do during the season and turn some heads.”
“Every exit meeting I’ve had in the past five, six years of my life, it was getting bigger, faster, stronger, and keep improving your defensive game. Your game with the puck is really good. But it’s the defensive game; you’ve got to keep improving that and keep getting bigger.”
Possible Trades Next Season
Teams that have the most success in the spring make trades to play deeper into the playoffs. You don’t hear about teams who quit improving their rosters when October comes.
Whether it’s a mid-season trade from a couple of years ago or a deal that was dealt at the trade deadline, general managers across the league all see room for improvement.