Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: Dallas Stars Edition

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 28: Curtis McKenzie
MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 28: Curtis McKenzie /

The Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars share more things in common than the legacy of Dan Hamhuis.

The Dallas Stars leapfrogged the Vancouver Canucks in the draft lottery and grabbed the third overall selection in the 2017 Entry Draft, selecting defenceman Miro Heiskanen before the Canucks could.

Whether the Canucks would have picked Heiskanen at the same place or not will be a deep mystery, but it’s no mystery that the Canucks missed a defenseman last year in their 82-game struggle.

Longtime Vancouver blueliner Dan Hamhuis is going into his second season this year of being a Star and will make $3.75 million and have a modified no trade clause protection.

Will Hamhuis be forced to use his modified NTC when the trade deadline comes around? That will likely happen for the 34-year-old if the Stars are far away from making the playoffs.

After last year’s struggles, let’s see what the Dallas Stars have done this offseason.

Offseason Changes

Following a disappointing season that saw them break down defensively with the league’s worst penalty kill and the second-worst goals-against average, the Stars understood that they needed to tighten things up defensively.

New head coach Ken Hitchcock will see his players defend with all they’ve got and the addition of netminder Ben Bishop will make a huge difference for them in net.


2016-17 vs. Vancouver
  • (5-4) Vancouver, Nov. 13 @Vancouver
  • (2-1) Dallas, Nov. 25 @Dallas
  • (4-2) Dallas, Mar. 16 @Dallas

2017-18 vs. Vancouver

  • Oct. 30 @Vancouver
  • Feb. 11 @Dallas
  • Mar. 25 @Dallas

3 Storylines to Watch in 2017-18

  1. Dan Hamhuis is 34 years old now… and?

As mentioned already, the former Canucks defenceman is now 34 years old and is in the last year of his two-year contract with the Stars. Does he have another season or two left in him or will this be the last time we see Hamhuis in the NHL?

Hamhuis had his worst offensive production rate-wise last season, notching just one goal and 16 points in 79 games. Though his possession metrics did shoot up, Hamhuis isn’t going to be a top-four defender anymore on most NHL teams.

Did the injury to his jaw really affect his on-ice play?

It will be interesting to see how the veteran defender will play for the Stars under coach Hitchcock. With the addition of Marc Methot, too, there is a lot of things going on around Hamhuis to begin the season.

2. Jordie and Jamie Benn: Will they ever come back home?

More from The Canuck Way

When Jordie Benn was a free agent a couple of summers ago, I really liked him as an option for the Canucks.

He’s a local guy who played his BCHL games in Victoria and someone who would be a great local model of hard work after starting out pro in the ECHL.

More importantly, he would have perhaps made Jamie Benn be more inclined to come to Vancouver.

Not saying he isn’t or that he ever wanted to come to Vancouver… just pointing out that Vancouver wouldn’t mind having the Victoria guy come back home and be a part of the transition core.

In a faint glimmer of hope, I am looking at new coach Ken Hitchcock and his choking defensive style as a potential reason for Benn to escape from Dallas.

If Jamie doesn’t feel inclined to put up with Hitchcock’s demands and wants out from under Hitch, who says he can’t book a ticket to Vancouver to play under Travis Green instead?

Of course, that’s just an awful lot of ifs and speculations.

3. The Canucks’ Drafting vs. Stars’ Drafting

Bo Horvat has his big six-year extension now. You know who doesn’t? The guy who was drafted right after he was.

With the tenth pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Dallas Stars selected forward Valeri Nichushkin right after the Canucks took Horvat ninth overall.

Though Nichushkin, the Russian power forward, has 64 points in 166 NHL games to boast about, he is currently in the KHL and is uncertain when he may come back to the NHL. For now, this is the only thing the Canucks remember of him.

That being said, if you thought the Canucks were bad drafters in the past seasons, look at the Stars’ drafting history. The past three drafts not including 2017 (obviously) saw the Stars pick 20 players. There have been just 17 NHL games played by them in total.

Dating back to 2012’s draft, the Stars have drafted only two players who have 100+ games of NHL experience, both of which were first-round picks.

Of course, the strength of the NHL lineup in Dallas over the years may have made it difficult for their prospects to crack the big league. But those numbers are just absurdly bad for the Stars’ scouting department.

Next: 30-in-30 Columbus Blue Jackets Edition

Regardless of how well the Stars may play compared to the Canucks this upcoming season, if the Canucks keep drafting better than the Stars, there’s no reason to believe that Vancouver will be towering over the Stars once the rebuild takes its course in Van City.