Jim Nill has made his first move as general manager of the Dallas Stars, and it’s an interesting one.
On Friday, the Stars announced they acquired the rights to Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Stars GM Jim Nill explained the move to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
“It was a chance to get a high-character guy who we feel can help our team,” Nill said.
Gonchar, 39, will see his three-year, $16.5 million deal expire on July 5, at which time he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. Nill told Garrioch that the Stars will begin contract negotiations as soon as possible.
Various media outlets have him linked to KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk — reportedly to the tune of $7 million per season — though it now appears Dallas will try to keep him in North America after his stellar 2013 campaign.
Gonchar was a steadying influence for the Senators this year after fellow vet Filip Kuba signed in Florida and Norris winner Erik Karlsson was lost for most of the season with a sliced Achilles.
He finished second on the Sens in scoring, with 27 points, and averaged nearly 24 minutes a night while finishing fifth among all NHL defensemen in assists (24).
Gonchar continued to log heavy minutes for Ottawa in the postseason, and finished tied for second on the team in assists, with six.
The move to bring in Gonchar harkens back to ones made by Nill’s predecessor in Dallas, Joe Nieuwendyk.
Last summer, the Stars went heavy into the veteran free agent pool, signing 40-year-olds Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.