Tag: Jim Nill

2010 NHL Draft Portraits

Looking to make the leap: Stephen Johns


To some Dallas Stars fans, the Patrick Sharp trade was as much about grabbing Stephen Johns as anything else.

(Granted, that might be a small sampling, but there was such chatter.)

Following the move, Stars GM Jim Nill probably summarized the most exciting takes: he’s the sort of defenseman the franchise might just be lacking.

“Stephen was a big part of that trade,” Nill said. “We’re trying to change a little bit of the dimension of our back end … he’s 6-foot-4, 220 lbs. and can skate.”

That’s what makes the 23-year-old especially interesting: while he packs some punch and snarl – relevant factors on a blueline that leans more toward finesse – it sounds like he’s swift enough that he won’t bring the Stars’ high-octane attack to a crawl.

Of course, it’s a big assumption that Johns can make the roster.

The Stars currently have eight defensemen under contract, and while some seem like they could be trade fodder if needed (Jason Demers?), Johns would need to impress to force the Stars’ hand.

Johns thinks he has what it takes, at least.

“Personally, I think I’m ready but it’s not up to me,” Johns said in July, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to do the best that I can, play the best hockey I can, and try to impress them.”

If you’re looking at young players who have the highest odds of making the team, Johns isn’t that guy.

One would think that Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka would have a significant head start after playing quite a few NHL games in 2014-15. To some extent, they made their leaps – or steps up – already, however.

Johns is a more interesting story to follow during training camp. There’s a good chance that he’s not even the prospect with the highest ceiling hoping to make an impression – Julius Honka fits that bill – but Johns is at the age where he must be getting awfully antsy for a longer look.

For all we know, he may prove that he’s just too useful to send to the AHL.

Nill believes Stars have ‘two No. 1 goalies’

Jim Nill

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.”

Change of Heart: Stars acquire Sharp from Blackhawks

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Just prior to last month’s NHL Draft, a Dallas Stars official told The Dallas Morning News that Patrick Sharp was “not what we need right now.”

That was then.

On Friday, Dallas acquired Sharp along with defenseman Stephen Johns from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt.

Prior to the trade, the Blackhawks were $718,460 over the cap for next season.

Sharp, who was a member of all three of Chicago’s Stanley Cup wins, has two years remaining on his existing deal with a $5.9 million cap hit.

“On behalf of the entire Blackhawks organization, I’d like to thank Patrick for all that he helped our franchise accomplish during his time in Chicago, especially serving an integral role in bringing us three Stanley Cup championships,” said Hawks’ GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He was one of our leaders on the ice, most notably as an alternate captain for several seasons, as well as off the ice with his countless contributions and volunteer work with team partners, sponsors and Blackhawks fans everywhere.

“He will forever be a Blackhawk and we wish him and his family nothing but the best in Dallas and beyond.”

Johns, 23, has yet to make his NHL debut.

The 6-foot-4, 233-pound blue liner registered a career-high four goals and 21 points in 51 AHL games with the Rockford IceHogs last season.

“Stephen adds to the corps of young defensemen that we have coming up in our system,” said Stars’ GM Jim Nill. “He brings an element of size and physicality to our mix and we look forward to him coming in and competing.”

Garbutt has spent parts of the past four seasons in Dallas. The 29-year-old scored eight goals and 25 points in 67 games last season.

Daley has two years left on his deal with a $3.3 million cap hit. The 31-year-old scored 16 goals and 38 points to go along with a minus-13 rating in 68 games last season.

“We want to thank both Trevor and Ryan for their contributions to the Dallas Stars,” said Nill. “Trevor has been an important piece of the Stars organization for many years and we could not be more grateful to him. The strong leadership he displayed both in the locker room and in the North Texas community has created a lasting impact on everyone around him. We wish them both the best.”

Related: Toews admits Chicago’s cap crunch feels ‘a lot like 2010′