Times have been pretty lean for the Dallas Stars franchise ever since Tom Hicks spread his (former) sports empire a little too thin. The impact of those times can be seen in the often-barren stands during games that aren’t against marquee teams like tonight’s match with the Pittsburgh Penguins (currently on NBC Sports Network).
This statement will probably raise some eyebrows considering box office woes and a playoff drought, then: the Stars have done a lot of right amid all their marketplace struggles.
With Brad Richards’ robust contract off the books, the Stars’ roster is a model of efficiency:
- All-Star-caliber forward Loui Eriksson is making a bargain $4.25 million per year through 2015-16, easily on my short list of the best deals in the league.
- Kari Lehtonen is one of the most leaned-upon and valuable goalies in the NHL, yet he’s making a relative pittance at $3.55 million cap hit-wise.
- In a league full of expensive blueline collections, the Stars’ highest paid guys are Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley at a reasonable $3.33 million per season.
- Mike Ribeiro might float here and there and Brenden Morrow hasn’t been healthy this year, but they’re still two quality forwards who are making exactly what they should be.
- Joe Nieuwendyk’s off-season moves have been deft strokes of bargain basement genius.
Michael Ryder has been a fantastic fit in a straightforward sniping role. Eric Nystrom will be a villain in Pittsburgh after his hit on Kris Letang (more on that very soon), but he’s been a huge waiver wire steal. Sheldon Souray, Vernon Fiddler and even Radek Dvorak have all been useful-to-fantastic here and there.
Room to improve
Naturally, things aren’t perfect in Dallas or the team wouldn’t be in another tooth-and-nail struggle for the playoffs.
That cheap defense will get more expensive when Alex Goligoski’s $4.6 million cap hit kicks in and they need a little of everything in that area. Jamie Benn will cost a ton of cash to re-sign after a gutty, impressive All-Star season. One way or another, the Stars need to find a way to re-gain the hearts of fickle Dallas sports fans.
(My suggestion: make everyone wear Mike Modano masks!)
Keep the trigger finger from getting too itchy
Still, hopefully having a more stable ownership situation won’t equal the kind of spending sprees that GM Joe Nieuwendyk has skillfully avoided in his underrated time in Dallas.
Nieuwendyk and new owner Tom Gaglardi need only to look to Terry Pegula’s ill-fated shopping frenzy as evidence that you don’t have to spend all that new money in one place.
Alex Burrows doesn’t want a trade out of Vancouver and he wants to make sure everyone knows it.
On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman reported that Burrows was potentially willing to waive his no-trade clause if a deal came up.
When asked about the report, Burrows went into denial mode.
“There’s no truth to that,” Burrows told beat reporter Ben Kuzma. “I’ve never talked to management or coaches about it.
“Last time I talked to my agent was to wish him Merry Christmas.”
Whether or not Burrows is willing to accept a deal out of Vancouver may be irrelevant.
The 34-year-old has seven goals and 16 points in 53 games this season, and he comes with a cap hit of $4.5 million dollars next season.
That’s pretty steep for a guy who’s on pace to score just 25 points this year.
If the Canucks want to find a taker for his services (assuming he’s willing to go), they’ll likely have to take a good-sized contract back or they’ll have to eat some of his remaining salary.
It makes sense that a swift bit of history happened in a game in which three goals were scored scored on three shots in about three minutes.
Brad Marchand found the net eight seconds in after an icing call, setting a new record for the Boston Bruins.
(You can see that goal in the video above.)
Watch that three-goal burst in this video:
The two teams weren’t done then. Loui Eriksson made it 3-1 while Pavel Datsyuk scored his 900th point to make it 3-2.
Maybe the best moment wasn’t a goal: Torey Krug was seemingly hurt by a Pavel Datsyuk hit, yet he returned without missing much time.
When the New Jersey Devils shut down a team 1-0, it’s usually with Cory Schneider in net.
Their workhorse got the afternoon off against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, yet Keith Kinkaid did his Schneider impression, grabbing his first NHL shutout in the process.
It was a low-event game with just 46 combined shots on goal, but Kinkaid had to work, stopping all 28 shots. To give you an idea of how tight this game was, the only tally was credited to David Schlemko on the power play.
This gives the Devils three straight wins. They managed to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New Jersey’s edge is a little misleading; the Islanders trail them by one standings point while holding three games in hand.
That leaves the Islanders in the bottom wild card spot, while the Penguins aren’t so far behind either.
Third in Metro: Devils – 65 points with 57 games played
Second wildcard: Islanders – 64 points, 54 GP
First spot outside the East playoffs: Penguins – 63 points, 54 GP
So, the Devils’ hold of a playoff spot is a bit tenuous, yet the bottom line is that they’re staying in the mix.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain comfortably in first in the Pacific.
The Boston Bruins (without Patrice Bergeron) take on the Detroit Red Wings (missing Jonathan Ericsson) on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a matchup between the second-ranked and third-ranked teams in the Atlantic Division, with little separating the two in the standings.
You can watch the game on NBC and also stream it online via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE