Tag: Dallas Stars

Stars have ‘high expectations’ for Nichushkin after 2014-15 season disrupted with hip injury


The Dallas Stars have been busy this summer. However, one of the players they seem to feel so optimistic about heading into the 2015-16 season comes from within their organization.

Valeri Nichushkin, 20, showed plenty of potential in his rookie season with the Stars two seasons ago, scoring 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games. But last season, he played in only eight games and recorded only a single assist.

A hip injury that required surgery greatly disrupted his sophomore season, keeping him out of the Stars lineup from early in November until the beginning of April, when he was recalled for a late push by Dallas to try and make the playoffs.

“We’ve got high expectations for him. He ended up playing in the last four games of the season and it was great to see the chemistry that him Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky,” said Stars GM Jim Nill, via the Dallas Morning News.

“They played together and it was amazing to watch. We’re excited. We think that they could be something special.”

Earlier this week, the Stars signed Johnny Oduya to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million. Prior to that, they acquired Patrick Sharp from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ruff talks line options after ‘tremendous’ additions

Oduya, Sharp

Stars coach Lindy Ruff is already thinking about how he’ll use Dallas’ latest additions and there’s no shortage of possibilities.

Dallas recently acquired Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks and then inked unrestricted free agent and former Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya to a two-year, $7.5 million deal. Combined with the earlier signing of goalie Antti Niemi and the Stars have added plenty of playoff experience.

“It’s really important for us to take that next step. These guys have been winners and know how to win. They should help us get there,” Ruff told the team’s website. “Ownership has really stepped up and said we can make this team better. I’ve got to give Tom [Gaglardi] and his family a lot of credit for making this team better with the last couple of pieces here. It’s been tremendous.”

Ruff could see Sharp being paired up with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line, but he’s also considering going with more of a one-two punch with a top line that features Benn and Seguin followed by a second unit that includes Sharp and Jason Spezza.

Whichever route he decides to take, the potential is certainly there for the Stars to have two significantly more balanced lines than they did last season. Spezza meshed well with Benn and Seguin when the trio played together, but whenever Ruff opted to employ that star studded line, it came at the expense of the team’s offensive depth. That trio were the only Dallas players to record more than 40 points last season while just Benn and Seguin surpassed the 20-goal mark. The addition of Sharp could expand both of those lists.

As for Oduya, Ruff would like to see him play alongside Jason Demers, which would keep the John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski pairing from last season intact.

Dallas fell just short of making the playoffs last season, but even before these additions, there were reasons to believe that the Stars could do better in 2015-16. It certainly didn’t hurt that they finished with a 14-5-0 run.

Related: Lehtonen, Niemi see benefit in splitting goalie duties

PHT Morning Skate: Seguin admits Sharp dethrones him as the sexiest Star


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Tyler Seguin on the burning question in Dallas: is Patrick Sharp better looking than he is? (Dallas Morning News)

Former NHL-er (and Calder Trophy winner) Bryan Berard’s story keeps getting sadder. (National Post)

The case for signing Brad Boyes. (TSN)

Enjoy this spirited Q & A with NBC’s beloved Doc Emrick. (Sportsnet)

Update: Frederik Andersen still loves Legos. (The Hockey News)

What it was like for one fan/blogger falling in love with the Detroit Red Wings. (Winging It in Motown)

The AHL provided this handy guide of NHL affiliations, in case you’ve (understandably) had difficulty keeping track of the changes.

This seems like the perfect thing to stare at while you’re not really working on Friday morning.

In Klingberg, Stars say they ‘got a chance of having the next Karlsson’

John Klingberg

Whenever you compare a young defensemen two a two-time Norris Trophy winner, you’re going to garner some attention — and that’s exactly what Dallas GM Jim Nill has done by comparing rookie d-man John Klingberg to Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson.

“We think we’ve got a chance of having the next Karlsson,” Nill said, per NHL.com. “We think [Klingberg’s] heading that direction, and if he continues to improve, I think he will be that type of player.

“We’re sitting good.”

While he’s got a ways to go before reaching that level, Klingberg’s offensive potential makes the comparison somewhat legit. He enjoyed a tremendous first year in Dallas, finishing first among all rookie defensemen with 11 goals and 40 points in 65 games (the goals, assists and points were all single-season Stars records for a rookie d-man.)

The 22-year-old finished fifth in Calder voting and the Stars wasted no time locking him up long-term, signing him to a seven-year, $29.75 million deal just days after the regular season ended.

“John is a very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that few in this league can match,” Nill said at the time. “He fits in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was felt immediately.

“We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenseman.”

It’s easy to see why Nill went the Karlsson route for his Klingberg comparison. Both are Swedes, both are talented offensive producers, both have slight frames (Karlsson is 6-foot, 180 pounds; Klingberg is 6-foot-2, 180) and both are solid puck movers out of their own end.

It also seems like Nill isn’t worried about placing lofty expectations on his players.

In an appearance on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast this week, he said Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin reminded him of “Toews and Kane when they were 22, 23, 24 years of age.”

Is Oduya indeed ‘the missing piece’ for the Stars?

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

The Dallas Stars continued to make waves by signing Johnny Oduya, and from the sound of things, GM Jim Nill is convinced that they now have the makings of a winner.

And not just “winners of the offseason.”

Nill goes as far as to call the 33-year-old the “missing piece” of the Stars’ defense: a steady hand, puck-mover and fitness fanatic who could be a good influence for the many young blueliners in Dallas:

Indeed, on paper, the Stars look awfully scary.

They’ve added Patrick Sharp to an offensive mix that includes Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. Nill didn’t flinch in spending on goaltending, as the Antti Niemi – Kari Lehtonen combo costs a whopping $10.4 million. Now their blueline adds some experience to a group that’s heavier on potential.

Of course, there’s another reason Nill believes that the picture is near-complete: Dallas doesn’t have much money left.

With Oduya’s (quite reasonable) $3.75 million cap hit in mind, the Stars only have about $2.3 million in space remaining, according to General Fanager. For a team that plays in a somewhat erratic hockey market and missed the playoffs entirely in 2014-15, the pressure is on.

At least Oduya is used to big-time pressure though, right?