We are taking a few weeks to quickly review each Stars player as the club embarks on the offseason.
Today's player: Karlis Skrastins
Skrastins was signed by the Stars prior to the past season on a two-year deal to be a solid, stay-at-home defender. He gives the Stars a veteran presence in what is overall a young defensive corps.
Skrastins started the season well, showing an immediate penchant for blocking shots. But his play did appear to taper off as the season went along. Part of that may have been the Olympics. Even though Latvia's stay wasn't a long one, Skrastins was the captain and that probably weighed on his mind for much of the season and may have led to some mental fatigue.
But Skrastins certainly has the ability to be an important contributor to this squad. He's going to jump from $1.1 million to $1.65 million in salary, so the club is hoping for a more consistent effort. If he can play a full season like he did the first few months of the last one, he'll be a huge help for this team.
Skrastins seems to have an understanding of where the shooting lanes are at any given time. He slides right into them and isn't afraid to have pucks go bouncing off various parts of his body. Skrastins had 156 blocked shots, which was tied for 15th in the NHL.
He's not a player that will pinch in and join the rush very often, but he does have good gap control and takes care of his part of the ice. He should make an impact on the defense next season.