Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Dallas Stars One-Hit Wonders.
The Dallas Stars Top Three One-Hit Wonders
Up first on the list for the Dallas Stars One Hit Wonders is Patrick Eaves. Eaves was drafted 29th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2003 Entry Draft. However, his career in the NHL wouldn’t begin until 2005-06 season, the first of the post-lockout era. As a rookie, the Canadian right-winger hit the 20-goal mark, riding the coattails of a monstrous shooting percentage (20 percent).
However, as his career unfolded, it became clear that his inaugural year was an aberration. Instead, Eaves found his niche as a strong bottom-six guy. Every season where Eaves played more than 15 games, he has recorded a majority on-ice Corsi percentage for his teams. His career peaked with the Dallas Stars (2014-2017). During this period he had a positive five-on-five impact at both ends of the ice for three consecutive seasons.
One Hit Season
Eaves benefitted from the Stars’ injury-plagued season in 2016-17 and was promoted to first-line assignments with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. This undoubtedly amplified his scope for scoring potential, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. His 37 points from 59 games and 21 goals for the Stars were career highs in both points per game percentage and goals scored. It was the first time he had reached 20 goals since his rookie season, 11 years prior.
However, the Stars were struggling, well adrift from a wildcard spot and opted to trade Eaves for assets. Eaves joined the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional second-round pick, which later became a first. Eaves continued his memorable season in California. He tallied a further 11 goals in 20 games for the Ducks, eclipsing the 30-goal mark for the first time ever during his hockey career. He finished the 2016-17 year with 32 goals and 51 points. His second-best point total in his career was 32 points in 2006-07.
After the Wonder
At the beginning of the 2017-18 season, Eaves was diagnosed with Guillain Bare Syndrome, a muscle-weakening autoimmune disorder. This forced him to sit out the rest of the season. Since then he has been constantly frustrated by an array of injuries that have effectively brought his career to a standstill. After his flurry of goals during the 2016-17 stretch run for the Ducks, Eaves signed a three-year, $9.45 million deal, which is due to expire at the end of this season. Sadly, he has only managed to play nine games in the NHL since this deal was signed.
A Dallas Stars stalwart, and successor to hall-of-famer Ed Belfour, Marty Turco was a regular fixture in Dallas for nine of his eleven career years in the NHL. Debuting as a 25-year-old, Turco was made to graft for two years in the minors before he got his call-up. He entered the league in the wake of the Stars most successful period in their history. They had won a Stanley Cup in 1999 and lost in the Final in 2000. Despite the lofty expectations of an elite team, Turco started with serious numbers, establishing himself early as a more-than-capable replacement to a multiple Vezina and Jennings winner in Belfour.
Turco’s best performances came in his first few seasons, which established him as a regular Vezina candidate, though he never actually won the award. He recorded the league’s best save percentage (.925) in 26 games in his rookie season (2000-01). He repeated the feat two years later. Turco also finished second, fourth and fifth in Vezina voting in consecutive seasons.
One Hit Season
In Turco’s first full year as the starting goaltender (2002-03), he blew away the field, and his own career highs, as the Stars romped to their sixth Pacific Division title in seven years. Turco finished with an elite .932 save percentage, 31 wins and seven shutouts. However, the most remarkable statistic of the lot was his Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA); Turco had a GSAA of 31.89.
The next closest goaltender within the top 10 for Vezina voting that year, was his predecessor, Ed Belfour for the Toronto Maple Leafs with 24.55. During Turco’s NHL career his second-best GSAA was 11.46. His second-best save percentage season was .925. Unfortunately, his annus mirabilis was not enough to secure the Vezina trophy. Turco was pipped to the post, by hall-of-famer, Martin Brodeur, who triumphed for his 41-win season and nine shutouts for the New Jersey Devils.
After the Wonder
Regarded as one of the best puck handling goalies in the game, Turco was a consistent performer even after his bright start plateaued to league average in later years. Unsurprisingly, as the Stars upped his workload to 60+ games per season, his save percentage never rose above .913 again during the regular season. Although, there were two pretty notable hot streaks in the postseason.
In 2006-07, Turco was phenomenal (.952) in the heart-breaking, seven-game first round series loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He followed this up the year after with a .922 save percentage. This led the Stars to the Western Conference final. They lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings.
The final player for in the trio of the Dallas Stars One Hit Wonders is Fabian Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom was an undrafted winger who garnered attention from NHL scouts after impressive seasons in his native Sweden. In 2006-07, Brunnstrom announced himself as an offensive weapon. He scored 38 goals and 79 points in just 49 games, for Swedish third-tier side Boras HC.
The following season, Brunnstrom debuted in Sweden’s premier division (SHL), producing handsomely for Farjestad BK. 37 points in 54 games was enough to create a bidding war within the NHL. In addition to the Stars, the interest came from the likes of the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens. However, Brunnstrom finally decided to sign with Dallas, who inked him to a two-year entry-level deal in 2008.
One Hit Season
Brunnstrom’s career was the epitome of ephemeral. He scored a hat-trick in his debut for the Stars against the Nashville Predators, becoming the third player in history to score three goals in their first career game. Ironically, there are many that would argue that his career peaked at its very inception. While Brunnstrom went on to record a successful rookie season of 17 goals and 29 points, his NHL career would never surpass the heights of his first night. In fact, he ended up scoring over 15 percent of his NHL career goals on debut.
After the Wonder
Brunnstrom faded into anonymity as quickly as he had emerged. In his sophomore season, the Swedish winger failed to score as many goals in 44 NHL games as he had managed on debut for Dallas. Recording only two goals and nine points in 2009-10, Brunnstrom was sent down to the AHL.
During the next few seasons, the Swede struggled in the minor leagues. He was moved from Dallas to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a franchise that was initially in the hunt to sign him, three years ago. He would never play for the Maple Leafs and failed to break loose from the AHL standard. 35 games later and Brunnstrom was out of contract and out of work.
In 2011-12, after a professional tryout, he was granted a contract with the Detroit Red Wings, another initial admirer. While his production was dramatically improving for the Grand Rapid Griffins, Red Wings general manager, Ken Holland opted not to re-sign him after one season, citing a lack of both leadership and toughness. Brunnstrom left Detroit in 2012 and he would never play in the NHL again.
He would spend the twilight of his career, bouncing around the SHL, failing to reignite his prolific form, which helped to make his name. In 2017, he called time on his career after a season in Denmark for Rungsted Seier Capital. In his post NHL career, he managed just 37 goals and 87 points in 184 games. His biggest achievement during that span was helping the Malmo Redhawks earn promotion to the Swedish Hockey League in 2015.