PHT Morning Skate: Where we’re talking prospect camps

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.

New Penguins prospect Brian Dumoulin is already familiar with their system as it’s just like the one he had at Boston College. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Red Wings prospect Landon Ferraro (Ray’s son) isn’t naturally a scorer but has been in camp. That’s cool, right? (Detroit Free Press)

Garrett Ross wants to be the next Brandon Saad in Blackhawks camp. They’re junior teammates so he’s got that going for him, which is nice. (

Garrett Haar continues to prove himself at Capitals camp. (Washington Post)

They’re loving Colgate standout Austin Smith in Dallas. (Stars)

Ryan Suter regrets causing pain to the Predators. You hear that David Poile? He’s sorry! (Tennessean)

The Blues made some moves yesterday but they’re not done yet… (Post-Dispatch)

Zach Bogosian is happy to see the Jets add size in the offseason. (Winnipeg Sun)

LeBrun: Steve Ott still available in Dallas


There’s an old-new name you can add to this summer’s possible trade list: Dallas forward Steve Ott.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Ott is still available to be had from the Stars but clarifies the team could hang on to him if they don’t get a deal to their liking.

You may recall Ott was reportedly available before the trade deadline under similar conditions but didn’t want to be dealt. Now with Mike Ribeiro in Washington, the Stars will look a bit thin at center should they decide to move him.

Ott is a valuable faceoff guy as well as someone who doesn’t take much crap from opponents. A team in need of a tough guy center who gets you faceoff wins and grit (Buffalo? Montreal?) should at least be giving Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk a ring.

Dallas associate Desjardins to coach AHL affiliate

Willie Desjardins spent last season as Glen Gulutzan’s right hand man.

Now he has Gulutzan’s old job.

Today, the Dallas Stars announced Desjardins would be moving from associate coach at the NHL level to head coach of their AHL affiliate in Texas — the job Gulutzan held for two season before becoming Stars head coach.

“We believe that Willie’s track record as a teacher of the game and his ability to develop young players is a perfect fit for the Texas Stars,” Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk told the team website. “His knowledge of Glen Gulutzan’s system and his familiarity with our prospects will continue to improve player development between Dallas and the Texas Stars.”

Prior to joining the Dallas organization, Desjardins established himself as an outstanding junior coach, building a powerhouse in WHL Medicine Hat and serving two stints on Canada’s coaching staff at the World Junior tournament, winning gold and silver respectively.

This move is very similar to the one we saw from Ottawa in late May. The Senators made assistant coach Luke Richardson the head man in AHL Binghamton after Kurt Kleinedorst turned down a contract offer.

Stars owner guarantees Gulutzan and Nieuwendyk return next year

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Stars owner Tom Gaglardi may not have fully enjoyed his first season at the helm of the team. Missing the playoffs is a tough pill to swallow and after the team just barely missed out two seasons in a row, it would be easy to get discouraged.

In a Q&A with Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Gaglardi says GM Joe Nieuwendyk and coach Glen Gulutzan have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to their jobs.

“There is absolutely no chance that Joe and Gully aren’t back. Joe has his mandate, and he needs time to make it work, and I don’t think he’s had that time yet. I agree with Joe’s strategy and vision, so there is harmony there…It’s Joe’s decision on Gully, but I like what Gully has done too, and I believe there is support there for him.”

Gaglardi tells Heika that he likes stability and keeping the same crew around to do their jobs is the way to go. While it’s easy to look at the Stars’ results the last two years and see missed playoffs and cast judgment upon that, there’s more below the surface in Dallas. Player development is strong and a lot of the talent on the team is young.

Gaglardi says the Stars are one really good forward and defenseman away from being contenders. With an owner in place, the pressure is on Nieuwendyk to go and get those guys this summer with Gaglardi’s wallet available to him.

Stars should learn from Sabres’ free-spending blunders


Times have been pretty lean for the Dallas Stars franchise ever since Tom Hicks spread his (former) sports empire a little too thin. The impact of those times can be seen in the often-barren stands during games that aren’t against marquee teams like tonight’s match with the Pittsburgh Penguins (currently on NBC Sports Network).

This statement will probably raise some eyebrows considering box office woes and a playoff drought, then: the Stars have done a lot of right amid all their marketplace struggles.

With Brad Richards’ robust contract off the books, the Stars’ roster is a model of efficiency:

  • All-Star-caliber forward Loui Eriksson is making a bargain $4.25 million per year through 2015-16, easily on my short list of the best deals in the league.
  • Kari Lehtonen is one of the most leaned-upon and valuable goalies in the NHL, yet he’s making a relative pittance at $3.55 million cap hit-wise.
  • In a league full of expensive blueline collections, the Stars’ highest paid guys are Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley at a reasonable $3.33 million per season.
  • Mike Ribeiro might float here and there and Brenden Morrow hasn’t been healthy this year, but they’re still two quality forwards who are making exactly what they should be.
  • Joe Nieuwendyk’s off-season moves have been deft strokes of bargain basement genius.

Michael Ryder has been a fantastic fit in a straightforward sniping role. Eric Nystrom will be a villain in Pittsburgh after his hit on Kris Letang (more on that very soon), but he’s been a huge waiver wire steal. Sheldon Souray, Vernon Fiddler and even Radek Dvorak have all been useful-to-fantastic here and there.

Room to improve

Naturally, things aren’t perfect in Dallas or the team wouldn’t be in another tooth-and-nail struggle for the playoffs.

That cheap defense will get more expensive when Alex Goligoski’s $4.6 million cap hit kicks in and they need a little of everything in that area. Jamie Benn will cost a ton of cash to re-sign after a gutty, impressive All-Star season. One way or another, the Stars need to find a way to re-gain the hearts of fickle Dallas sports fans.

(My suggestion: make everyone wear Mike Modano masks!)

Keep the trigger finger from getting too itchy

Still, hopefully having a more stable ownership situation won’t equal the kind of spending sprees that GM Joe Nieuwendyk has skillfully avoided in his underrated time in Dallas.

Nieuwendyk and new owner Tom Gaglardi need only to look to Terry Pegula’s ill-fated shopping frenzy as evidence that you don’t have to spend all that new money in one place.