Brenden Dillon

The future of Dallas’ defense is bright

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One area of Dallas’ game that that doesn’t appear to need much tweaking is their defense.

There are a host of veteran guys leading the way. Newcomer Sergei Gonchar joins Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas, and Alex Goligoski along the blue line. Those guys make up what would normally be a pretty good top-four, but it’s the young guys who will make the Stars a tougher team to contend with in the West.

Rookies Brenden Dillon, 22, and Jamie Oleksiak, 20, arrived on the scene and made an immediate impression with the big club. Dillon in particular showed what he was about in adding an immensely physical game with toughness (65 penalty minutes) and some offensive touch as well (3 goals, 5 assists). If you dig into his advanced statistics, you’ll see why many rave about him beyond the standard numbers.

Oleksiak’s game is a bit more raw, but in the 16 games he played he showed enough of what he can do to help make the Stars comfortable enough to move Philip Larsen this summer. That deal netted them Edmonton’s Shawn Horcoff who will help them out in other areas.

It’s Dillon in particular that has Stars faithful excited. His play was strong enough last season to earn him a spot on Team Canada’s roster for the World Championships. His mix of defensive and offensive abilities, accidental or not, has some in Dallas hoping he’ll be the next to wear the captain’s “C.”

The Stars certainly have their holes on the roster, but most of them are amongst their forwards. GM Jim Nill only addressed his blue line by adding Gonchar. With the rise of the kids through the system, his concerns can stay on improving the team elsewhere.

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”