How the Stars take the next step

This season was a big step for the Stars, but Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin need help. Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

After it seemed that they would be sending the series back to Southern California for a pivotal Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks, the Dallas Stars lost in heartbreaking fashion, with a goal from Devante Smith-Pelly coming with 24 seconds left, and a Nick Bonino score just 2:47 into overtime to end the series.

It's a crushing defeat, but this season as a whole was a successful one for the Stars. Dallas ended its string of near-playoff misses, returning to the postseason for the first time in the past six campaigns.

The trade for Tyler Seguin was a complete success, as he built chemistry with Jamie Benn both on and off the ice. They’re going to be an elite duo that Western Conference opponents will have to deal with for a long time.

Now, it’s about building off this success without taking the step backward that sometimes follows for a young team that makes the playoffs. Here’s a look at the summer objectives for the Stars:

1. Construct a legitimate second line to ease pressure on the top line

The Stars are top-heavy, which typically doesn’t work particularly well in the playoffs. If teams find a way to shut down Seguin and Benn, who accounted for five of Dallas' 18 goals in the series, it puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of guys like Alex Chiasson, Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt.

Ray Whitney and his $4.5 million cap hit come off the books and there’s uncertainty about Rich Peverley's status for next season (at $3.25 million).