August 23 2012 04:58PM
The Sabres entered the 2012 season with high expectations. New owner Terry Pegula infused the franchise with cash which allowed management to add Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino, Robyn Regehr, and the contract of Ales Kotalik (he spent 2012 in the Czech Republic). The combined cap hit of the guys who stayed in the league (Ehrhoff, Leino, and Regehr) was $12.52 million.
Unfortunately, despite the injection of cash, the Sabres fell out of the playoffs.
Buffalo drank the poisonous cocktail of being soft, being terrible at faceoffs, and banking on big years from numerous guys with significantly elevated shooting percentages. Some red flags should have been obvious, but this is a team that was still too talented to end up where they did.
August 14 2012 12:42PM
The 2012 Chicago Blackhawks finished the regular season 10th in points and 5th in Fenwick Close, but their season ended with a thud in the first round against the Phoenix Coyotes as Mike Smith shut the door repeatedly on the Hawks scorers. The abrupt ending to the season overshadows the fact that the Hawks were a really good team in 2012 despite several flaws.
The flaws the Blackhawks were working with seem like they should have made more of an impact than they did. Both of Chicago's special teams units were poor. The goaltending was poor. The defense was sketchy after the top pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, and, after they dumped out of the failed Patrick Kane to center experiment in December, they didn't have an established second line center. Despite these holes the biggest acquisition of the Hawks' offseason thus far has been Sheldon Brookbank.
As serious as those problems are the Blackhawks were still one of the most dominant teams in the league. The lack of moves to this point in the offseason means they are going to need to improve internally to get back to the top of the league.
August 09 2012 08:00AM
In 2012 the Dallas Stars missed out on the playoffs for the fourth straight year. After being eliminated in the final game of the season in 2011 by the lowly Minnesota Wild, the Stars were spared some of that heartache by missing the cutoff by six points in 2012. The Stars were 17th in Fenwick Close, and when you finish in the middle of the pack in possession the chances of your season ending early increase.
Despite missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year, the Stars weren't a disaster under first year head coach Glen Gulutzan. They have their issues going forward, but the club has a solid developing core of young players that should carry the team back into contention at some point in the near future.
This offseason was the first in several years where the Stars organization had some money to spend and with that infusion of wealth they set their sights on three key areas: special teams, depth, and possession.
August 08 2012 06:13AM
Bet on Benn to be even better in 2012-13
Photo by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons
The 2012 season saw Jamie Benn start to get national recognition for the type of player he has been developing into over the course of the prior two seasons. He was the Dallas Stars best player on most nights into 2011-12 despite being one of their youngest. The Stars offseason activities are going to further thrust Benn into the spotlight in 2013.
The question is "Can Jamie Benn actually be better?".
The answer is a resounding yes. Benn, despite already being an elite player, is primed for a significant breakout season next year.
July 05 2012 01:03PM
The Dallas Stars have been in a weird state of limbo for four years now. They've been one of those tweener mediocre teams since their last playoff berth after a decade of sustained success. Those teams generally have two directions they can go to get their franchises back on track. They can either tank and rack up the lottery picks or rebuild on the fly.
I used to lean towards the tankers. The closest thing I ever came to witnessing a full rebuild firsthand was the Stars dropping into the bottom five to draft Ric Jackman in 1996, and he had absolutely nothing to do with the immediate transformation of the franchise the following year. Needless to say, my thoughts on the topic weren't fully vetted.
I'm not going to spend the energy trying to convince you one way or the other on the broader topic of tanking vs. trying. I'm more interested in the trying to retool on the fly side of the equation. Joe Nieuwendyk and the Stars have been ruthlessly implementing change in Texas since the season ended. He has his detractors, but he's done yeoman's work with the Stars roster the past two weeks and for the organization as a whole since the Finals ended. The Stars are laying out a blueprint for rebuilding on the fly that is going largely unnoticed.