One publication's prediction for the Stars: Dead last in the West

It’s that time of the year when the NHL preview magazines start coming out with predictions for the upcoming season and one of the first ones to hit the market is The Sports Forecaster 2011-12 NHL Preview, a Canadian publication and one I look forward to reading every year.

First off, I don’t read too much into these preseason predictions. Don’t get too worked up over them either. They don’t really mean much. And making picks about how things will play out over the course of a long season is tough. A lot can change over that time.

But I do like to read the various national opinions about the Stars and the rest of the NHL teams. It gives you a sense of how teams are perceived after all the summer moves.

When it comes to perceptions about the Stars, the loss of Brad Richards is going to play a big part with most prognosticators. He’s a talented offensive player and was the most coveted free agent on the market this summer. Lose a guy like that and a lot of people are going to think a team has taken a step back, especially when there is no big name replacement. Not saying I agree with it, but that’s the way some people will see it every time.

That was evident in The Sports Forecaster’s prediction about the Stars, which has them finishing 5th in the Pacific Division and dead last (15th) in the Western Conference.

After discussing the loss of Richards, how Mike Ribeiro and Jamie Benn will have to pick up the slack at center, the chance the Stars are taking on Sheldon Souray and GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s acquisitions of Michael Ryder, Radek Dvorak, Adam Pardy, Vernon Fiddler and Jake Dowell, TSF offered this bottom line on the Stars:

“Rookie coach Glen Gulutzan will probably preach a defensive style to help offset the loss of Richards. In [Kari] Lehtonen the Stars have a strong backbone. The blueline is decent, if not spectacular, and there is plenty of grit and toughness on the roster. The key will be scoring enough goals to compete for a playoff berth. Too much of the burden will likely fall on too few options, so the 2011-12 campaign could be a rough one.”

Here is the publication’s predicted order of finish in the Western Conference.

Forecasting the West

Western Conference predictions by the Sports Forecaster 2011-12 NHL Preview

The prediction for Eastern Conference playoff teams: Washington; Boston; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; NY Rangers; Montreal; Buffalo; Tampa Bay.

The Sports Forecaster 2011-12 NHL Preview is going with the Chicago Blackhawks as Stanley Cup Champions this season.