NHL 2016-17 Central Division preview: Can Stars solve goaltending woes?

NHL 2016-17 Central Division preview: Can Stars solve goaltending woes?

CSN Chicago will unveil a preview each day for every Central Division team leading up to the NHL's season-opener. Next up: Dallas Stars.

The Stars saw a 15-point improvement from 2014-15 to 2015-16 thanks to a scorching hot 28-8-3 start in the first three months last season, which helped them capture the Central Division crown for the first time since 1997-98.

Credit that to a high-powered offense that scored a league-high 265 goals, which was 17 goals better than the second-place team. It will be hard for the Stars to match that total, but that doesn't mean they'll rank among the tops in goals scored again.

Their weaknesses began to show down the stretch, however, with a leaky defense and a goaltending tandem that allowed the most goals of any playoff team in the regular season with 230.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016-17 season, Blackhawks fans!]

That needs to change if the Stars have any shot at seriously contending for a Stanley Cup. The problem is, there is $10.5 million committed to Kari Lehtonen ($5.9 million) and Antti Niemi ($4.5 million) through 2017-18, and it's difficult to see any team taking one of those contracts off their hands unless at least one of them has a strong first half.

It's especially tough to swallow knowing goaltenders like Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury could be on the market at the trade deadline with the threat of Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh losing them for nothing during next year's expansion draft.

Losing Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski and Kris Russell hurts a Stars blue line that is figuring out how to patch up playing in their own zone, but the addition of Dan Hamhuis should help take some of the pressure off of young defensemen Stephen Johns and Esa Lindell, both of whom are being counted on to step up in larger roles and are capable of it.

Other previews: Colorado Avalanche

Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season


Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season

Eddie Olczyk joins Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers to discuss what went wrong for the Blackhawks this season, and what changes could happen this summer to get the team back into the postseason.

Listen to the entire HawksTalk Podcast here:

Amazing news: Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free

Amazing news: Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free

Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free!

The beloved Blackhawks broadcaster provided an update on his health after a battle with cancer and had the best news possible.

His scan scheduled for early-April was moved up and the results brought good news:

"I'm proud to stand here before everybody and you [Pat Foley] — my partner and my friend — that all the cancer is gone," Olyczyk said. "We beat this thing, and I say 'we' because it has been a team effort. Not only from the great doctors, but from this organization, from Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, Jay Blunk, Coach Q, hockey operations, these great trainers, our broadcasters, you partner for all the texts and visits daily, the National Hockey League, all my friends and my family: my brothers Ricky and Randy, my mom and dad, and of course, my four kids — Eddie, Tommy, Zandra and Nicky and my beautiful wife Diana. If it wasn't for them, there's no way I could've gotten through this.

"So I believe we all beat this and I'm so thankful for all the support and prayers. They worked. I'm proud to stand here before everybody and let them know that we beat this thing. I've had enough crying to last me a lifetime, partner, and I'm just so excited that I got that call on March 14th at 5:07 p.m. letting me know that my scans were clear. I've never heard a better phrase in my life.

"I'm now 10 days on with the rest of my life and that's the way I'm looking at it."