2021-2022 Season: 56-19-7, 119 points, 1st in Central
Key Returning Players:
Nathan MacKinnon just signed an eight year, $100.8 million contract. He’s worth it - he’ll be supported by captain Gabriel Landeskog and a bulk of the Stanley Cup champion team. Cale Makar and Devon Toews will still be dangerous for opponents to handle.
UFAs Nazem Kadri (Calgary Flames, 7 year, $49 million total) and Darcy Kuemper (Washington Capitals, 5 years, $26.25 million total) sought big paydays and got them. Colorado may’ve been hampered a bit by the salary cap, but neither Kadri nor Kuemper’s agents seemed to have a problem with it. Replacing Kadri might have to be scoring by committee, but it’s going to be tough to find a player to replace his skill and edge. Replacing Kuemper, on the other hand…
Goaltending might be an issue on an otherwise impressive team that looks to repeat as the Central Division champions. There’s solid potential for a 1A/1B tandem to form between Alexander Georgiev and Pavel Francouz, but both goalies are going to need to benefit from the Avalanche’s defensive prowess as they settle into their roles.
2021-2022 Season, 46-20-6, 98 points, 4th in Central
Key Returning Players:
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are back and healthy, so they may well be able to rebound from their diminishing returns of the last several seasons. Supporting the offense will still be the job of top point scorer (81) Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Jason Robertson, whose 41 goals lead the team last season. Hintz’s 37 goals were good for second on the team.
John Klingberg signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, taking a 41 assist guy out of the equation for the Stars.
Mason Marchment could have a solid year, building on his 18 goals and 19 assists of last season with the Florida Panthers. Pete DeBoer will be taking over for Rick Bowness, who resigned at the end of last season and who was named head coach of the Winnipeg Jets this off-season.
Will the Stars respond to DeBoer’s coaching style, which is very different from Bowness’ heavy and occasionally inconsistent way of coaching? Joe Pavelski will be reunited with his old San Jose coach, so as Pavelski responds, so will the team.
Success is very reliant on Benn and Seguin recovering their peak form. Both players are healthy coming into camp, which is a blessing for the oft-injured Seguin. If they don’t both bounce back, it’ll be scoring by committee and last year’s top players will have to focus and repeat last year’s performance.
In net, Jake Oettinger has some pressure to continue his playoff performance. His .954 save percentage and 1.81 goals against average in the Stars’ seven game loss to the Flames caught a lot of attention, but his regular season performance (2.53 GAA, .914 SV%) needs to be improved upon a bit.