We continue to skate on the blue line for our player reviews. You can check out the others on the Stars blog.
Today's player: Mark Fistric
Fistric was probably the most improved player on the blue line in 2009-10. Fistric, who turns 24 in June, split time between Dallas and the minors in 2007-08 (37 games in NHL) and 2008-09 (36 games in the NHL). So the 2009-10 season was about finding out if Fistric could play at a consistent level in the NHL for a more extended period of time.
He proved that he could, improving as the season went along. His most impressive stat was a plus-27, head and shoulders above anyone else on the team. That mark was good enough for 10th in the NHL. Fistric wasn't exactly a scoring defenseman, collecting one goals and nine assists in 67 games. A knee injury (and subsequent surgery around the Olympic break) hampered Fistric some near the end of the season.
But he did show that he could play with just about anyone (he could even play forward, if needed) and as his play improved and his confidence grew, so did his ice time. Fistric ended up averaging 14:55 of ice time per game.
Fistric wasn't used much on the special teams, getting some time on the penalty kill when certain players weren't in the lineup. But he played with a variety of partners at times and was a steadying influence. He seemed to find a better idea of when to join the rush and how to try to get back to clean up some mistakes.
Fistric, like any young player, had some breakdowns. But, as his plus/minus shows, good things tended to happen when he was on the ice.
What's the next step for Fistric? Well, if he continues to improve at the rate he did this season, he could become an integral part of the club's defensive group going forward.