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?
From Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:
Everyone knows that Johnny Oduya’s first choice is to remain with the Chicago Blackhawks. But the 33-year-old defenseman can’t wait around forever for GM Stan Bowman to clear the cap space.
If it’s not the ‘Hawks, the Stars — with a young, inexperienced defense that doesn’t have veteran Trevor Daley anymore — may make sense. Dallas has a ton of talent up front, and after GM Jim Nill signed Antti Niemi to address the goaltending, the blue line is the one area that could perhaps be improved.
The Buffalo Sabres are another team that’s interested in signing Oduya. There are undoubtedly a few others.
For those teams that lose out on Oduya, other UFA d-men include Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff.
Related: Ehrhoff will take another one-year contract
The Pacific Division continued to get tougher on Friday in the wake of Milan Lucic’s arrival in Los Angeles.
The Anaheim Ducks signed Brian McGrattan while the Arizona Coyotes added tough guy John Scott on a one-year deal.
Scott spent the 2014-15 season with the San Jose Sharks scoring career-high three goals and four points to go along with 87 penalty minutes in 38 games. The 32-year-old has a history with Coyotes’ assistant GM Darcy Regier as the two were together in Buffalo.
According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, Scott’s deal is a one-way contract worth $575,000.
Arizona also signed Steve Downie to a one-year deal on July 1.
The Canucks added Brandon Prust in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
“L.A. got tougher in bringing in Lucic. Other teams got tougher,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said on Thursday when discussing the Prust acquisition. “I don’t want our younger players getting picked on this year. I want them to go out, be able to play and feel comfortable.
“With (Derek) Dorsett and Prust in the lineup, they’re going to create a safe working environment for our young players.”
Dorsett (17) and Prust (16) were second and third in fighting majors last season, according to Hockeyfights.com. Colorado’s Cody McLeod led the league with 19.
Downie was 14th in fighting majors last season with eight.