"2013-14 record: 40-31-11, 91 points, 5th in Central Division, 8th in Western Conference
2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: lost to Anaheim Ducks in the first round
Additions: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback, Jussi Rynnas, Patrick Eaves
Subtractions: Alex Chiasson, Dustin Jeffrey, Aaron Rome (buyout)
Pending free agents: Cody Eakin (RFA), Brenden Dillon (RFA), Ray Whitney (UFA), Tim Thomas (UFA)
Promotion candidates: Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Brett Ritchie
Top 2014 NHL Draft picks: Julius Honka (No. 14), Brett Pollock (No. 45)"
Nill isn't talking about respecting a winner, even though the Stars have earned respect across the NHL for what they did last season and the moves they made during the offseason. They acquired Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators, signed Ales Hemsky to a three-year contract and created goalie competition behind Kari Lehtonen by signing Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas.
Nill, though, is talking about respecting the art of winning -- as in don't take it for granted because the NHL, particularly in the Western Conference, has a way of humbling those who do.
Dallas was the fifth of five Central Division teams to make the playoffs last season, falling in line behind the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. All of those teams expect to be better than they were last season, when each had at least seven more points than the Stars' 91. Dallas has to be better too.
"When you look at how young we are with some of our talent, it will be how they manage those expectations that are going to be placed upon them," Ruff said. "There's going to be no free nights."
The good news is Dallas fared well against the Avalanche, Blues, Blackhawks and Wild in the second half last season, going 5-2-1. Overall, Dallas was 12-10-6 against the other playoff teams in the West, including 5-2-2 against the three Pacific Division qualifiers"
The Stars were 23rd on the power play (15.9 percent) and 21st on the penalty kill (81.4 percent) last season. They need to improve in both areas.
The Stars have six returning defensemen, including the still unsigned Brenden Dillon, a restricted free agent, but Nill is hoping Nemeth, Oleksiak and Cameron Gaunce make a case for jobs in camp. Nemeth could have the edge after playing in the playoffs last season."
Central Division is tough!