Good morning, Stars fans. Today I wanted to get your morning started with a quick look back at the Stars “rag-to-riches” story over the past few seasons.
The Dallas Stars Ultimate Rebirth:
The Stars have seen quite the change over the past few seasons. I know I’ve mentioned this “rebirth” quite a few times, but I wanted to make sure you knew just how successful the Stars have been and what’s in store.
The Dallas Stars’ rebirth is largely due to the fact of the GM takeover by Jim Nill. Nill proved to be a more than worthy candidate and was nominated for GM of the Year for this past season after acquirements like Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin carried the Stars to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
Tyler Seguin needed a new home away from the pressures of being perfect that come with playing for the Boston Bruins, and Nill gave it to him. Seguin became great friends with Jamie Benn and the two formed one of the top dynamic duos in the league. By the end of the regular season, the two finished with a combined 71 goals and 92 assists and both finished in the Top Ten in goals scored throughout the entirety of the NHL. Seguin was electric and provided the pulse that the Stars dot had lacked for a while and became one of the young and new faces of the franchise. His contribution to the overall rebirth was unmatched and with his talents just now in bloom, he will be a highly effective player in the years to come.
Valeri Nichushkin also took a major part in granting new life to this franchise. Being the tenth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, he turned out to be the biggest steal of the entire draft. The 19-year old saw a full time spot on the Dallas Stars roster and never saw a minute of minor league play. He spent time among the greats on the same line as Benn and Seguin, as well as the bottom lines with Vernon Fiddler and Ray Whitney. He was a very flexible forward throughout the season in Ruff’s eyes and still managed to produce quality numbers. He finished his first regular season in the NHL with a respectable total of 14 goals and 20 assists. He is looking to improve on that come next year and hopes to stick on the first line with Seguin and Benn, where the three greatly thrived.
The young and improved roster found it’s way to a postseason berth and shocked the NHL community in doing so. Though they were knocked out in the first round, they put up a true and unexpected fight against the Pacific Division Champions, the Anaheim Ducks. After Game Six, many Stars fans were already hastily gnawing at the bit for a new season.
Nill also snagged a steal of a bench manager. He reeled in Lindy Ruff to Dallas after Ruff was fired by the Buffalo Sabres. He turned his coaching game around and led the Stars with a valiant effort and was another major key in their on-ice success.
But that was only Nill’s first full season with the Dallas Stars. Through his second session so far, Nill has been able to pull in the sharpshooter center Jason Spezza and the crafty playmaker Ales Hemsky, along with a new backup goalie in Anders Lindback.
Jason Spezza had been a main target for Nill ever since the first day of the Stars offseason and he is a key to the Stars continuous upgrading. Spezza was a dominant force for his former team, the Ottawa Senators, the team he had served for his entire NHL career. Spezza took in a successful season last year, scoring 23 goals and tallying 43 assists through 75 games. He was looking for a trade because he was searching for a team that was all-in in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup. And he just happened to feel the Stars fit his standards. Nill traded away Alex Chiasson, a few prospects, and a draft pick for Spezza and a prospect. Spezza will look to back up Tyler Seguin and fill the second line center spot quite nicely and possibly skate on a line with former linemate Ales Hemsky and current Stars winger Erik Cole.
Just moments after Nill finalized the trade for Spezza, he offered a contract and signed Ales Hemsky, former Ottawa Senators and longtime Edmonton Oilers winger. Hemsky is a fantastic playmaker and meshes very well with Jason Spezza. He scored a total of four goals and 13 assists through his 20 games with the Senators last year. Hemsky knows how to set up plays and get people in the right position for the score. Hemsky signed a three year deal worth $12 million with the Stars on July 1st.
Anders Lindback decided to take Nill up on his offer as well, and signed a one year deal with the Stars. Lindback will be serving as the backup goalie to the elusive Kari Lehtonen. He is coming off of a depressing season as Tampa Bay’s backup, in which he pulled off an 8-12-2 record, along with a .891 SV% and a 2.90 GAA. He will look to rebound and serve as the Stars first ELITE backup goalie in the last five or six seasons.
Nill also made a quick move this past Monday and signed netminder Jussi Rynnas. Rynnas played his past season in the Liiga in Finland and turned out to be one of the top three goalies in the league on the year. He finished with a 28-5-7 record and a .939 SV% and a 1.51 GAA on the season. His NHL play is where he struggles. He played three games for the Toronto Maple Leafs through two seasons and ended up with an 0-1-0 record, with a .848 SV% and a 3.85 GAA. Rynnas will be filtered to the AHL most likely, but Nill’s new additions to the goalie depth leave many questions to be answered at training camp.
But, Nill has done wonders for the Dallas Stars as a whole in a mere two seasons. He is not done in any way, either. Nill will look to continue adding helpful names until the Stars are at the top of the league looking down. The Dallas Stars have an eventful year ahead of them, and this may be the year they swing for the fences.
Until then, we’ll just have to anticipate October 9th.
Comments below and Go Stars.