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Fantasy Puck Preview: Dallas Stars

Scott Cullen
9/12/2010 11:32:57 AM
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Though the Dallas Stars don't have a defense that generates much fantasy interest and their goaltender has trouble staying healthy, there are plenty of skilled forwards available.

Both centres, Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards, have been productive scorers. Ribeiro has 273 points in 305 games with the Stars over the last four seasons and while his production dipped to 53 points last year, he also played only 66 games, so the drop wasn't quite so steep on a per-game basis.

Richards tied a career-high with 91 points last season, yet for the third time in the last four years, he was a double-digit minus. Those minus ratings combine with low penalty minute totals (20 PIM in 148 games with Dallas) to make Richards less appealing in fantasy leagues that go beyond points.

Not so long ago, Brenden Morrow was fantasy gold, a winger who, at the peak of his powers, scored 65 points while adding 183 penalty minutes (2005-2006), then scored 32 goals and 74 points two years later. Wear and tear from years of hard play are taking some toll on the 31-year-old captain, so he's not as productive as he once was, but still does enough to hold down a spot on most fantasy rosters.

Presuming that he gets signed to a new contract, winger James Neal has scored 51 goals in his first two seasons, providing a nice combination of size and skill. He'll be even more appealing once he starts landing on the plus side.

Sophomore winger Jamie Benn had a strong rookie campaign, scoring 22 goals and 41 points, but he also earned his ice time by hitting and forcing turnovers, so he should be in a more prominent role in his second season, certainly deserving an increase in the 14:42 of ice time per game he was getting as a rookie.

Steady improvement has been the name of the game for skilled winger Loui Eriksson, increasing his point totals each year he's been in the NHL, reaching a career-high of 71 last season. The 25-year-old should be able to continue in a productive role as he's just approaching his peak years.

Agitator Steve Ott has upgraded his offensive game enough the last couple of seasons, scoring 41 goals and 82 points over the last two years, that he's worth adding for the 150 penalty minutes he's also likely to bring to the table.

It might have looked like Matt Niskanen would be a viable fantasy defenceman after he scored 35 points in 2008-2009, but 15 points and a minus-15 rating last year left Stephane Robidas as the only Stars blueliner of note.

Robidas scored a career-high 41 points last season and plays a combative game (392 PIM in 400 games with Stars) that helps offset a minus rating (minus-10 last season). Unless someone else takes over on the power play, though, Robidas will be a decent bet to remain productive in that role for the Stars.

Oft-injured goaltender Kari Lehtonen has played more than 50 games just once in five NHL seasons, but he's been an above-average puck-stopper (.912 save percentage) when healthy. He'll have the opportunity to play a lot for the Stars, so he is somewhat of a sleeper candidate for fantasy owners.

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