LAST SEASON 42-29-11 (9th in West)
KEY ADDITIONS C Vernon Fiddler RW Michael Ryder, D Sheldon Souray
KEY LOSSES RW Jamie Langenbrunner, C Brad Richards
To make up for the debilitating scoring hit of losing free-agent center Brad Richards, the Stars will be counting on a nucleus of young talent. Winger Jamie Benn, 22, scored 32 goals in the final 30 games of the season, and puck-moving defenseman Alex Goligoski, 26, scored 15 points in 23 games for Dallas after being acquired in a trade with the Penguins. Winger Michael Ryder, fresh off winning a Cup with Boston, could pay dividends if the playmaking veteran can re-create the chemistry he shared with center Mike Ribeiro when the pair combined for 91 goals over two seasons with the Canadiens."I think offensively we have a lot of guys who are gifted and who can do some things," says G.M. Joe Nieuwendyk. "I just think the overall structure of our team has to be better."
When the offense struggles, Dallas will again look to goalie Kari Lehtonen (above). The 27-year-old Finn must improve on his middling numbers from last season (.914 save percentage, 2.55 GAA).