It’s time for Part 3 of the Stars Season Breakdown, where I look at the individual contributions of probably the most hotly debated part of the Stars system: our defense. Again, these guys show up in order of 5v5 Time on Ice this season.
Let’s take a minute to re-familiarize ourselves with where Dallas landed as a team this year. These 10 game averages are 5v5 play and Score Adjusted. All data sourced from war-on-ice.com.
Got it? Good! Let’s start with……
This snapshot chart is from All Situations, unlike the rolling averages graph.
Goligoski was another player who saw his usage drastically change this year, getting significantly less power play time (2 minutes/game versus 3:15/game) and about twenty seconds more penalty kill time. He also saw his D-partner change from working with Trevor Daley like he did last year to Swedish phenom, John Klingberg.
A 2% drop in overall CF% isn’t surprising when a player makes such a big change in zone starts, but Goose definitely had a slow year in overall scoring.
While his Scoring Chances For % was fairly even all season, Goligoski’s possession metrics showed a clear uptick as the season went on. In an effort to keep all my graphs the same, I didn’t include Klingberg’s arrival from the AHL as a point, but if I had, it would be at the summit of that very first mountain. Unfortunately, I didn’t start tracking pairings until Nov 25th, but Klingberg/Goligoski wasn’t a steady pair until December. There’s no denying the effect the Elf Prince had on our veteran D-man, and the longer they played together, the better they got.
There’s a lot of speculation around which Defender will have to go to make room for Nemeth next year, and Goose’s name is on the list. He has a pretty hefty cap hit (4.6m) and one year left on his contract. I think the more likely outcome is Nill hanging on to Goligoski and seeing how the year goes, potentially flipping him at the trade deadline like he did with Cole this year.
Rookie Defender points leader.
You mean you want me to say more than that? Ok, fine. Klingberg’s 13% GF% Rel puts him 4th on the team, right behind Eaves, Seguin, and Spezza, and right in front of Jamie Benn. He was an invaluable addition to the power play, registering almost 3 minutes per game, and really revitalizing the man advantage with his sneaky good shot and almost prescient vision on ice. He lead all the Stars D in Points/60, was second in both goals and assists, and of those 29 assists, 18 were primary assists, leading directly to a goal.
Once Klingberg got settled into a pairing with Goligoski, he barely touched that 50% mark. It’s kind of crazy. There was the scary moment at the end of the season where he missed a few games after being attacked by the Flyer’s Zac Rinaldo, and a slightly concerning dip at the end of the season, but again, a very very good rookie year. Cap that off with Klingberg getting signed for $4.25m/yr through 2022 and we’re in very good shape if we get the same (or better) play from him next year. And given the rising price for #1 Dmen in the league, he’s going to look like a steal for most of his career.
I bet y’all were expecting this next guy to be Daley. Well, because I ranked them by 5v5 TOI, Jordie has 3 minutes more to take the number 3 spot.
Unfortunately, Elder Benn had a difficult start to the year, leading to a 4 game benching. He was down slightly in scoring, and down 7% in Goals For %, leading to that huge drop in GF% Rel. The good news is that his possession numbers were all up even though he spent more time on the Penalty Kill this year than last.
That break of 4 games may go down in history as the most effective benching ever. Jordie did miss a few more games, notably at the end of the season when they were trying to get Nemeth some playing time, but holy cow what a difference it made. The other big change? The introduction of Jason Demers as Jordie’s
soulmate D-partner. Demers joined the team on 11/22, but wasn’t consistently paired with Jordie until December (aka that huge jump in Jordie’s play post benching). Overall, there was a lot to like about Bearded Benn’s game at the end of the season, and it looks like he’s staying in Dallas for a while this summer, helping his brother and working with the Stars training staff. Hopefully we’ll see the same or better from him next year.
Another Stars skater who had himself a career offensive year, Daley constantly frustrated the fans by getting points – while being the worst worst possession player on the team. This season, Dales’ usage drastically changed as he got double the power play time of last year, and spent more time on the penalty kill, too. This contributed to the increased offensive zone time (and in fact, his pairing spent the most time 5v5 in the offensive zone), but for some reason, his possession numbers didn’t change. And despite his improved scoring, Daley’s Goals For % dropped, proving that offense isn’t everything.
Lindy used Daley as the mentor to the youngsters, most frequently pairing him with Jokipakka, Oleksiak or Nemeth. No matter who he was working with, his numbers didn’t change, with his best stretch of possession coming from the end of November through very beginning of January. He had a large stretch of injury time when Matt Martin hit him in the knee, and we found out after the season ended that he also needed hip surgery.
Daley didn’t seem to lose any of his speed despite those injuries, so if he can rehab well this summer, I think he’d make an interesting trade piece. It’s very likely we’ll lose him or Goligoski, but it may depend on what the other team needs more than who we would prefer to lose. Unless Daley can improve his possession game like the other Stars, I can’t see him staying around for long.
Even though these numbers also include his two months with the Sharks, Demers scored the majority of his points with the Stars (22 of 25, with a Stars-only P60 of 1.12), and he also had a -6.7% ZSO Rel in Dallas, indicating he was used much more offensively with the Sharks. Either way, Demers was an important addition to our possession game, and really fleshed out the PK, adding about two minutes a night to our special teams.
Ok, guys, these charts are crazy (and are Dallas only, as indicated by that giant gap at the beginning). Yes, while his trends are either flat or slightly down, Demers only has two data points under 50%. TWO. TOTAL. That’s ridiculous. The start of that second mountain? That’s when Seguin was injured and the team really needed the veterans to step in and maintain control.
Demers has another year on his contract, and I hope that we end up resigning him, because these kinds of numbers don’t show up often.
Now we get into the guys who were up and down all season. Jokipakka started the year by splitting his blueline time with Jamie Oleksiak, but by February, had captured the last roster spot for himself, only sitting out one of the last games to give Nemeth more playing time back from injury. Herky Jyrki didn’t have a bang up year offensively, but that wasn’t his forte, and he did a good job of providing size and drawing hits away from our speedy forwards.
You can clearly see that as the season went on, Jokipakka’s game improved dramatically. Unfortunately for him, his main partner was Trevor Daley, who had a negative effect on possession, no matter who his partner was. (Even possession darling Demers took hits when paired with Daley). While Jokipakka could definitely be considered trade bait this offseason, there’s a lot to like about the way he’s developing as a defender, and I would be happy to see him back next year.
Oleksiak only played 7 regular season games with the Dallas Stars last year, and only 36 this year, so we don’t have much data we can use to draw conclusions. Things we know about Oleksiak from this year: He’s large. No one hits him (probably in large part because of fact #1). He was consistently paired with Daley, so while his CF% improved season over season, it might also have been artificially deflated this season from having Daley in his pair.
Again, with so little data, it’s difficult to make any assumptions about his play. At the beginning of the year, Oleksiak was having a rough time, which got him sent back down to Austin to play with the Baby Stars. He was up for a few games here and there, but didn’t make much of an impact. Finally, he spent most of February and March in the AHL, really working on his game. When Daley got injured, Oleksiak was recalled and did get a few games, posting much better numbers than he had earlier in the year.
Of the two, I think Jokipakka is more “NHL ready” but Oleksiak, who was a first round pick, will need to play more consistent NHL games to really ‘graduate’ from his journeyman status. I think it’s likely the Stars lose one of these two in a trade over the summer, especially as Julius Honka, Esa Lindell and newcomer Mattias Backman are all knocking at the door, too.
Much like Oleksiak, Nemeth only played 7 regular season games last year, and then only 22 games this year. Being touted as a potential partner for Klingberg (after he came back from his devastating arm laceration earlier than expected) Nemeth only played 4 games as a pairing with his Swedish pal, mostly playing with either Jokipakka or Daley. Together, Nemo & Klingbae had 5v5 CF% of 62%. So. I’m kind of hoping we can, like, go back to that.
HEY GUESS WHEN HE STARTED GETTING PAIRED WITH DALEY.
Ok, again, you can’t tell much from this chart just because of lack of data, but it’s very encouraging. Nemeth has a lot of talent, and assuming he doesn’t have the shittiest luck ever and go out after 5 games again next year, will be a very valuable asset on the blue line, regardless of pairing.
And that’s it! That’s all folks!
What do you mean “what about goaltending?”
Do I really have to?
Fine. Be on the look out for part 4: Goaltending.