Whether you like the moves he’s made since becoming Dallas Stars GM or not, you really can’t accuse Jim Nill of being lazy.
Every summer, the Stars seem to be one of the “winners” of the off-season, yet they’re still searching for their first playoff series win since that surprisingly deep run in 2007-08.
The 2014-15 season might just be the last one where they were able to play the “scrappy upstart” role, even if they seem to carry somewhat similar strengths and weaknesses into next season. Broadly speaking, at least.
Expectations are rising each year, and with good reason.
The Stars nabbed Antti Niemi’s rights from the San Jose Sharks and then handed him a three-year, $13.5 million contract. Backup goaltending – and let’s be honest, goaltending in general – was a big sore spot for Dallas last season. Now Nill is spending $10.4 million on “two No. 1 goalies.”
That was a big enough change in itself, yet Nill had another trick up his sleeve, sending Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt to the Chicago Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns.
Each summer, the Stars have landed a big-name forward in a trade:
2013: Tyler Seguin
2014: Jason Spezza
You can’t do that forever and also retain a ton of cap space, even with bargains for Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, so now Dallas is close to the ceiling. Especially after blowing much of their remaining budget on Johnny Oduya.
There weren’t many subtractions beyond assets handed over in trades and the departure of Shawn Horcoff, so the Stars look imposing on paper. Now it’s up to Lindy Ruff to make it all work.