Since the Dallas Stars brought in Ken Hitchcock in April, the roster and coaching staff have already begun to take shape. Just in the last seven days, Rick Wilson, a former assistant coach, has returned. Wilson was last seen on the St. Louis Blues coaching staff with Hitchcock. However, he served with Hitchcock as an assistant coach in Hitchcock’s first stint. Following Hitchcock’s first departure from the Stars, Wilson served as an interim head coach for the final 32 games of the 2006 season. Starting from 2002-2009, Wilson served as an associate head coach of the Stars before being an assistant coach under Hitchcock in St. Louis last season.
Curt Fraser, another former assistant coach, was also retained. Fraser returns after taking the brunt of the blame for a weak power play last season. Along with the other familiar names, the Stars bring back Stu Barnes as an assistant coach. Barnes, a former player for the Stars for five years, brings experience and a wealth of knowledge from his playing days around the league. Among these hiring, the Stars will also bring back goalie Jeff Reese, and Kelly Forbes to round out the staff.
Dallas Stars Roster Moves Made Before July 1
July 1 is a significant date for the Dallas Stars and NHL. As of July 1, 2017, the players who haven’t been offered a contract will become an unrestricted free agent. An unrestricted free agent means the player can sign anywhere. So, what have the Dallas Stars done so far? In one case, the Stars have pulled off addition by subtraction.
Addressing The Goaltender Situation For The Dallas Stars
Goalie Change: Antti Niemi, coupled with Kari Lehtonen, was expected to turn around the Dallas Stars ailing goalie situation. While both men helped the Stars for a short while, the coaching staff decided to try new strategies in order to give both more of a presence. A season that saw both players play parts of games, then play full games, seemed to throw off each player.
Kari Lehtonen, in the middle of a lackluster season for the defense and goalies, would later secure his job outdoing Antti Niemi. With that, the Stars traded for goalie Ben Bishop in May. Right after the Stars made a trade for Bishop, they re-signed him to a new contract. Ben Bishop will be a Dallas Star for the next six seasons. On June 27, the Stars also bought out Antti Niemi.
Dallas Stars Improve Defense Drastically With One Move
Along with the change in the goalie position, the Stars also traded for a defenseman after the NHL Entry Draft. All they gave up, was a goalie prospect (Dylan Ferguson) and a 2020 draft pick. Marc Methot was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in this year’s expansion draft. However, now, Methot will now be in victory green against Vegas on opening night.
Methot brings many aspects to the Stars. Size, play style, and leadership skills will make Marc Methot an invaluable asset this season. Additionally, with him in the lineup, the Stars now have the balance on defense. As Marc Methot is added to the roster, the Stars will now have three left-handed defensemen and three right-handed players.
Power Play Has Potential To Improve This Season
Now that Stu Barnes is in Dallas to assist on the power play, there is a good chance the Stars could be vastly improved in this department. With Barnes’ experience playing and his experience under three different Stars head coaches, he has surely learned some ways to improve a power play. Additionally, with the talent the Stars have, Barnes has room to get creative. As all of this happens before the start of free agency, Stars fans know one thing. July 1 isn’t far away, and the Stars have lots of money to spend so they can improve.