Tag: Dallas Stars

Jim Nill

Nill believes Stars have ‘two No. 1 goalies’


Kari Lehtonen won’t have to play hurt next season.

Lehtonen made 65 appearances last season including a stretch, which had him as the goaltender of record in 14 of 17 games.

The Stars simply weren’t comfortable in starting Anders Lindback who eventually found his way to the AHL’s Texas Stars before being dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.

“There was a lot of games last year, people don’t know this part of it, where Kari Lehtonen was pretty banged up and we didn’t have a choice but to ride him,” Stars GM Jim Nill told Dallas radio station The Ticket per The Dallas Morning News. “Now he knows that he can get four or five days off and get re-energized.”

Jhonas Enroth and Jussi Rynnas also had stints in the Stars’ net last season – neither gave Nill confidence he had a reliable replacement when Lehtonen needed a night off.

As a result, Nill went out and acquired the rights to Antti Niemi and gave him a three-year, $13.5 million contract in June.

“I really believe it’s becoming a two-goalie league. It’s hard for one goalie with all of this travel and back-to-backs. The league is so close. If you can win an extra two or three games because you have a rested, healthy, very competitive No. 1 goalie that you can put in any time is going to make a big difference,” said Nill. “I think it’s going to be a great competition. I’ve talked to both goalies. They’re very comfortable with it. They think it’s going to be very great for them. They know that they got a chance if they go on a run winning five or six games in a row, good for them. And once they start to get tired or something they have another guy who can come in and play for them.”

Lehtonen was 34-17-10 last season to go along with a 2.94 G.A.A. and a .903 save percentage.

Niemi meanwhile made 61 appearances with the San Jose Sharks posting a 31-23-7 record to go along with a 2.59 G.A.A. and a .914 save percentage.

Together they’ll have a cap hit of $10.4 million next season.

“We think it’s going to be a split job. Now someone might get it and run with it for a while. We’ll play it by ear,” said Nill. “There’s always the unknown. There’s injuries. So many things can happen. Somebody can get sick. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

“In the end, I think it’s going to be a split situation. I think it’s going to work well. Like I said, we’re fortunate because of our cap situation that we can do it. I know that if other teams had the cap room, they’d do it. You can’t get any better than having two No. 1 goalies in your lineup.”

Campbell credits ECHL stint for turning his game around

Dallas Stars training camp

When Jack Campbell was sent from the AHL to the ECHL in February, it wasn’t a particularly promising sign for a young goalie who was once so highly touted.

At the time, Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill explained the move like this: “He’s going there to play games, and that’s exactly what he needs right now, so it’s a positive thing.”

But let’s face it, the ECHL was not where the Stars had forecast Campbell to be playing almost five years after they made him the 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

To Campbell’s credit, he made the best of his short stint with the Idaho Steelheads, and now he’s feeling a lot better about his game.

From the Stars’ website:

Campbell played seven games in 13 days with Idaho, posting a 5-2-0 record, 1.73 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.

“Just playing, getting away from everybody a little bit,” said Scott White, Dallas Stars Director of Hockey Operations and Texas Stars GM. “He just played. He played a lot of hockey in a short period of time. I think he had fun.”

“I think it was just knowing I was the guy down there,” Campbell said. “I played seven in a row, which was nice. The boys had a lot of confidence in me and the coaches. I relaxed down there and came back with the same attitude and everything kind of took care of itself.”

The dividends continued to roll in when Campbell returned to the AHL. He went 0-1-1 in his first two starts, but then went 11-3-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .924 save percentage to finish the season.

Clearly, the Stars haven’t given up on Campbell. They re-signed the 23-year-old in June.

“Jack winning 11 out of his last 14 games last season was huge in solidifying another postseason appearance for Texas,” Nill said. “We fully expect him to build off of that success and continue his growth.”

It’s hard to say what the future holds for Campbell, but with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi signed for the next three years, there aren’t currently any openings on the big club’s roster.

Campbell knows he has to be patient.

“My goal is to be a starting goalie in the National Hockey League for the Dallas Stars,” he said. “That’s my main goal, but that’s a process. I have to show that I can be a starting goalie for the Texas Stars.”

PHT Morning Skate: Backes gives back to his alma mater


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.

David Backes spent three years playing at Minnesota State-Mankato and, now, he and wife Kelly are donating $100,000 for the final renovations to the school’s Verizon Wireless Center hockey upgrades. (Mankato Free Press)

Jake Gyllenhaal remembers “crying on the kitchen counter” when his parents made him pass on the starring role in the original Mighty Ducks movie. His loss was Joshua Jackson’s gain. (Puck Daddy)

More movie-related news: Tyler Seguin is taking acting classes and has a cameo in the upcoming sequel to the 2011 flick Goon, titled “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.” (Dallas Morning News)

Buffalo has signed its second-round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Brendan Guhle, to an entry-level contract. (WGRZ Buffalo)

LA Kings assistant GM Rob Blake had high praise for Jordan Weal, who starred for AHL Manchester last season and won Calder Cup MVP. (Frozen Royalty)