Saturday, October 24, 2015

Star Gazing

        The Dallas Stars haven't raised the Stanley Cup since 1998-1999. However, they're playing like they're a contender to start off the season. Dallas is 6-1-0 in their first seven games this season, good enough for 1st place in the Central Division.
        The reason for the Stars' success so far has actually been through many acquisitions that have been made over the past few years. One of the most prolific trades was the trade with the Boston Bruins in the 2013 offseason. They acquired Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow. Seguin has ten points so far (six assists, four goals).
        The Stars also acquired Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators in 2015, a trade that has proven to be quite successful. Spezza has five goals and eight points to start off the season. Also helping matters was the signing of Ales Hemsky, who was also formerly of Ottawa. Hemsky has five assists and a goal to start his season.
         So who's the mastermind behind all of these great moves? It's a guy named Jim Nill. Nill was a former assistant general manager for the Detroit Red Wings. He shadowed Ken Holland from 1994 to 2013, helping oversee the prospects for the Red Wings in their minor league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. He also directed the amateur scouting and drafting. In his tenure, the Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups. He's not overly responsible for these four Stanley Cups, but he did play a major role.
        The biggest surprise of all of this? The Dallas Stars are having this much success in the NHL's toughest division. The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are still a deep team. The Nashville Predators have lofty expectations this year that include a Stanley Cup. The St. Louis Blues are perennial contenders. The same can be said for the Minnesota Wild. The Winnipeg Jets are coming off a playoff appearance from last season. The Stars have beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road and have beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins twice.
        Can the Dallas Stars sustain this level of play? More division play will dictate whether or not they have staying power. In the past, the Stars had a tendency of starting off fast and fading as the season progressed. Dallas is hoping that this season will be different.

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