Friday, January 8, 2021

Stars Preview: John Klingberg Jersey Card

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: 2020 is a different beast and requires adaptability; in my case, it means the joint posts with my "main/personal" blog will not be in the "player here/analysis there" format but rather the entire scope of the analysis will take place here and the player will have some sort of direct connection to what's written. Caveats: at this point, despite the season being set to start in Mid-January, several impact players haven't found a team yet and quite a few teams are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

The Dallas Stars are the hardest-hit team from the Covid-19 pandemic, with six players so far having confirmed positive tests, and two staff members hit as well; this might actually be a blessing in disguise for the team, as both star center Tyler Seguin and #1 goalie Ben Bishop are out long-term with injuries, which is why I have them outside the playoff picture looking in, despite their reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season. However, a ten-day delay to the start of their season gives the two star players nearly two weeks of leeway where they won't miss any games, which helps Dallas' chances greatly.

What makes their odds look good:
The fact that they reached the Final just a few months ago tells you this team now has depth, grit, defense and goaltending, probably solid team chemistry and very good coaching as well. They just need their offensive weapons to produce more so the senior executives don't lash out at them in the press.

Question marks:
Although... it is fair to wonder if we're all asking too much of Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, as they're now over 30 with years of hard, physical hockey taking its toll on their bodies - and the same can be said for 28-year-old Seguin, who has a couple of deep Cup runs under his belt. And Joe Pavelski will eventually start showing his own age (36) as well.

With Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg, the Stars pack a one-two punch on defense that compares favourably with anyone else in the NHL; the offense can change, but they have a certainty on D that has them set for the next decade. All they need is to renew the goaltending and first line in due time and ride the studs. There are interesting prospects up-front, with Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov making for an interesting middle-six core and possibly Ty Dellandrea as the lone future star in the lot, but the D is going to be their bread and butter, with Thomas Harley, 19, also developping nicely in Juniors.

Fifth in the Central Division.

Initial rumours had Dallas in the West in lieu of the Minnesota Wild, and I would have seen them make the playoffs there, but when I made my predictions and saw that Seguin wouldn't be back until March and Bishop until May, I thought the blow would be too hard to come back from and that the Florida Panthers would jump ahead. The condensed make-up schedule might be what does them in, at the end of the day.

Normally, the offensively-gifted, smooth-skating Klingberg should be good for some 50-60 points in an 82-game season - he had a high of 67 in 2017-18 - and many were disappointed that he was only able to accumulate 32 (from 6 goals and 26 assists) in 58 games last year, but he more than made up for that with 21 points in 26 playoff games, good for second in team scoring behind Heisnanen's 26 (in 27 games); it was the second straight year Klingberg put up impressive postseason numbers, having posted 9 points in 13 games in 2018-19.

Here he is wearing the Stars' white (away) uniform on card #GJ-KL from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Series 1 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set, featuring a matching game-worn jersey swatch:
Internationally, he plays for Team Sweden and already has three gold medals on his resume, from the 2012 World Juniors and 2017 and 2018 World Championships.

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