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Fantasy Puck Preview: Dallas Stars

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Scott Cullen
9/12/2008 12:31:53 PM
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A good playoff run last season means that the Dallas Stars enter this season with optimism and high expectations.

2007-2008 was a breakout season for both Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro and both are now high quality fantasy performers.

Morrow, in particular, is a veritable fantasy star for his combination of points (74), plus-minus (plus-23) and penalty minutes (105). Even if Morrow doesn't quite match that production again this year, he's still a high end winger in the fantasy game. Now, if only he'd turn back the clock to 2005-2006 when he racked up 183 penalty minutes.

Ribeiro has totally rejuvenated his career in Dallas, showing much more commitment on the ice and point-per-game centres will always have value in fantasy hockey.

Speaking of point-per-game centres, Brad Richards is certainly capable of that kind of production, but a word of caution: he was still a minus player in Dallas last year, meaning he hasn't been a plus player since before the lockout.

The Stars added one of the premier penalty minute sources in the game when they brought in Sean Avery as a free agent, but Avery has also improved his game enough to contribute offensively as well. Given the likelihood that he'll have a quality centre in Big D, Avery could well go for 40 points and 200 penalty minutes if he stays relatively healthy.

A couple of long-time Stars are on the downslope of their careers, but may still have fantasy value.

38-year-old centre Mike Modano had 57 points last year, but he's likely the third-line centre and may not have the necessary supporting cast to match that production.

35-year-old Jere Lehtinen may be in a position to get quality ice time, but he missed 34 games last season, so it's tough to project a full season out of him at this stage. He will be reasonably productive when he's healthy, though, so he's worth a mid-to-late-round selection.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Stars have some young guys climbing the depth chart.

Loui Eriksson, for one, is making steady progress and put up 31 points in 69 games last season. He could be ready for a nice bump in production this year.

Swedish rookie Fabian Brunnstrom was so overhyped in the spring that now it's virtually impossible for him to exceed expectations. However, he could land some quality playing time given the Stars' relatively thin group on the wings. For now, he's only a consideration in leagues that require a rookie or deep keeper leagues.

On the point, Sergei Zubov is still one of the best puck-movers in the game, but there will be a few questions about whether the 38-year-old is nearing the end after he missed 36 games last season. Given that Zubov hadn't missed more than five games in any of the previous eight seasons, it's fair to expect him to play much closer to a full schedule this season.

21-year-old Matt Niskanen had a terrific rookie season (26 points, plus-22), so he'll generate interest in fantasy, but it may take another year before his point production makes a big jump.

Otherwise, the defence has depth options in feisty Stephane Robidas, and Philippe Boucher.

Boucher's 2007-2008 season was marred by injury and he didn't produce well even when he was in the lineup, but the two previous seasons were the best of his career. It's worth a late-round pick to find out if he can get back to the 15-goal, 40-point level.

Given that unheralded Tobias Stephan is the backup, Marty Turco is a very good fantasy option between the pipes.

Turco may play as many as 70 games behind a relatively strong defensive team, so his numbers are going to warrant selection just behind the elite fantasy goaltenders.

Brenden Morrow (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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