This post is part of Stars Day on PHT…
It has been a very busy offseason for general manager Jim Nill.
Now he needs it all to pay off.
After a disastrous 2016-17 that saw his Dallas Stars go from division champs to missing the playoffs by 15 points, Nill got aggressive.
First he fired head coach Lindy Ruff and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. Then he went to work on the roster, adding via trade or free agency the likes of Ben Bishop, Alexander Radulov, Martin Hanzal, and Marc Methot.
In signing Bishop, Nill hoped to solve his team’s biggest problem: goaltending. Which, of course, was a problem that Nill had already tried, and failed miserably, to solve two years ago with the signing of Antti Niemi.
In other words, Bishop better be the right guy, otherwise the GM could find his seat getting rather hot.
Ditto for Hitchcock being the right head coach. Because while Hitch has had a great deal of success in the NHL, it remains to be seen if his style will mesh with a team that’s been more run-and-gun than heavy-and-hard-to-play-against.
Heck, some might say Radulov was a risky signing, even after salvaging his reputation last season in Montreal. After all, he just turned 31 and won’t be playing for a contract anymore. Nill gave him a five-year term with a cap hit of $6.25 million.
Related: Ben Bishop is under pressure
In an interview with Edmonton’s 630 CHED radio, Nill was asked if he was feeling the pressure in the wake of all his moves.
“I wouldn’t say there was pressure,” he said, per FanRag Sports. “We knew we were going to make some changes. Last year was a tough year. The injuries devastated our team and we’d end up chasing it. The league is too tight nowadays. If you get behind in this league, it’s tough to catch up. It’s too close. We’re all within three-to-five wins of each other. So it was a tough year that way.
“But I get back to we knew we were going to have cap room. We knew we were going to make some changes. Probably the silver lining was because of all of the injuries last year, we had a lot of young kids we brought up to have to fill in those roles. They got extra experience because of that. I think between the additions and the experience the younger players got, I’m looking forward to a pretty strong bounce-back year.”
Nill may not want to admit there’s pressure, but considering all the money he’s committed to this roster, it’s fair to conclude that owner Tom Gaglardi will want to see some results.
The Stars will head into the season with Stanley Cup aspirations. At the very least, they need to get back into the playoffs and make some noise.