As the new NHL season rapidly approaches the first regular season puck drop, the Dallas Stars look to the future of their franchise and realize that offense may win games but defense wins championships. With that in mind, young netminder Jake Oettinger, affably nicknamed the “Otter” will take over full time goalkeeping duties this season in Dallas.
The Dallas Stars are in a rebuild mode under new head coach Peter DeBoer and face a number of challenges this season in the ever-competitive Central Division. One of the key components of this rebuild will be Jake Oettinger who inherits the pipes that have been guarded for years by greats such as Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin. Support for a youth movement using the 23 year old Oettinger at the defensive helm signals a key departure from veteran experience and a new direction for the Stars franchise. However, the toughest days are ahead for Jake Oettinger and Company as the Stars are setting to do battle within arguably the toughest division in the NHL-the Central Division. Oettinger will no doubt be facing the likes of the the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators along with the tough Minnesota Wild on a regular basis which spells out plenty of challenges for the new Stars top goalie.
What does Jake Oettinger bring to the Stars?
Jake Oettinger made his auspicious introduction to the NHL during the “bubble” playoffs in 2020. Oettinger earned his baptism under fire by taking over for Anton Khudobin in both the Western Conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals that the Stars lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of course, appearances on the highest stages of hockey are no guarantee of future roster spots and Oettinger was sent back down to the minors (remember, the AHL Texas Stars are just down the road from the big league Dallas Stars in the DFW metroplex.)
Injuries to the Stars goalie depth chart including the career end of Stars great Ben Bishop enabled Oettinger to step back into the starting lineup towards the end of the 2021-22 season. What did the Stars get out of this transition? Jake Oettinger ranked in the top ten in the NHL season and posted a very solid 2.53 goals-against average along with a .914 save percentage. Along the way last season Oettinger set a franchise single season record by earning his 25th victory in just 40 games. Oettinger posted a very respectable 30-15-1 regular season record and helped propel the Stars into the postseason. In the first round against the Calgary Flames, Oettinger who posted a phenomenal .954 save percentage but that only speaks to a portion of Oettinger’s valiant efforts in this series. With no less than 272 saves in the series and 64 saves in Game Seven, Oettinger showed a level of maturity relatively unknown among younger netminders. Despite falling in overtime in that seventh game to Calgary, Oettinger earned praises from the Stars general manager Jim Nill:
“He has elite physical ability and presence in the net, while also exhibiting phenomenal mental strength in high-pressure situations. Jake’s poise and character off the ice have made him a leader in our locker room. He has shown that he has the skill, work ethic and pose to excel at the NHL level.”
The Stars recognize that Oettinger is the franchise goalie of the future.
Before the start of this year’s training camp, the Dallas Stars went ahead and placed their bets on Jake Oettinger as the current and future goalie of this franchise. The Stars offered Oettinger a three year, $12 million dollar contract to keep the six foot five, 220 pound goalie protecting the Stars net for the conceivable future. Even Oettinger was looking for a longer term contract” “. . .if I could have signed for eight years, I would have. . .” Due to salary cap and financial constraints, the Stars were able to only commit to a three year deal with Oettinger. However, with Oettinger as strong franchise bet, his long-term presence with Dallas looks to be a solid prospect. In a twist to show that Oettinger solidly is starting goalie, the Stars also re-signed backup goalie Scott Wedgewood to a two-year, $2 million dollar contract to provide relief to Oettinger.