What an astounding performance last night from the Dallas Stars.
The Minnesota Wild lulled the Stars to sleep and took a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd period before the Stars collectively said “that’s enough of this shit”.
After being outshot 9-7 in the 1st period, the Stars amped it up and out shot Minnesota 35-15 in the final 2 periods and wound up winning the game 4-3 in OT.
Only a stout performance from Wild goalie Darcy Kemper kept this one close.
In response to a reader’s comment last night, I thought I would expand on the amazing work of Dallas GM Nill.
We’ll let Wikipedia do the heavy lifting but as impressive as what follows has been…there’s much more to the story that we’ll get to afterward.
In April 2013, he was hired as GM of the Dallas Stars. Nill immediately made several major transactions starting with trading a 6th round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to the Ottawa Senators for DefensemenSergei Gonchar and signed him a 2-year, $10-million dollar contract. On July 4, 2013 in a blockbuster trade, Nill sent 2011 NHL All-StarLoui Eriksson and prospects Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser to the Boston Bruins in exchange for the former 2nd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry DraftTyler Seguin as well as Rich Peverley and Ryan Button. On the same day he traded prospect Philip Larsen and a 7th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for their captain Shawn Horcoff.
On July 1, 2014, Nill traded for Ottawa Senators center and captain, Jason Spezza and right winger Ludwig Karlsson for Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, and a 2nd round pick in the 2015 NHL draft. On the same day, he also signed unrestricted free agent forward, Ales Hemsky to a 3 year, $12 million contract.
On July 10, 2015, Nill traded for forward Patrick Sharp and defensive prospect Stephen Johns from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt. On July 15, 2015, Nill signed unrestricted free agent defenseman, Johnny Oduya to a 2 year $7.5 million contract.
Nill’s unique ability to pull off the blockbuster trade has been attributed to a Jedi-like wiggle of his trademark mustache, nicknamed “Monty.”
Yes, a few blockbusters in there and I think the only mis-step was Hemsky’s 3 year deal but there is also a back story that is often missed.
You may have noticed the name Stephen Johns in the trade for Sharp and that’s only one example of Nill dealing with the present and future at the same time.
John’s was a 2nd round pick of the Blackhawks and is currently playing in the AHL.
He’s joined in Texas by Mattias Backman, a promising defenseman that Nill drafted in the 5th round while with Detroit and whom he got for virtually nothing when he traded UFA Erik Cole for Backman and Mattias Janmark who is currently playing more than 13 minutes a night on the Stars’ 3rd line.
As you can see, Nill managed to move a player who is now out of hockey for a blue chip defensive prospect and yet another centre.
So, not only has Nill given lie to the notion that you can’t acquire elite centres except through the draft but he’s also built Dallas’ defensive depth from awful to among the best in the league in what amounts to only two seasons of work.
Take a peek.
John Klingberg (5th round 2010)
Alex Goligoski (very good#2 D inherited by Nill)
Jason Demers (Nill acquired in a trade with San Jose)
Johnny Oduya (signed as a free agent by Nill)
Jordie Benn (inherited by Nill)
Jyrki Jokipakka (7th round 2011)
Patrick Nemeth (2nd round 2010)
Jamie Oleksiak (1st round 2011)
Those are the 8 defensemen Dallas has carried this season not wanting to lose any of them to waivers although, at some point, I expect Nill will deal from a position of extreme strength and make a another trade.
But, as alluded to earlier, it doesn’t stop there.
These D are warming up in the bullpen in the AHL and appear to have a solid NHL future:
Stephen Johns (trade)
Esa Lindell (trade)
Mattias Backman (trade)
Julius Honka (1st round 2014)
Ludwig Bystrom (2nd round 2012)
That depth is just ridiculous and, while Nill certainly can’t claim credit for all of them, he now has so many bullets in his chamber he’s set himself up for many years.
When we examine Nill’s draft history, we have to remember that he was “The Man” in Detroit as well as the GM of the Wings’ AHL team before moving to Dallas….or, in other words, the man mainly responsible for “the Detroit Model”.
Since his first draft in 2013 with Texas Nill has picked the following players in the first 2 rounds.
Valeri Nichsuhkin 109GP
Jason Dickinson 15P in 20GP AHL rookie
Remi Elle 6P in 11GP AHL rookie
Julius Honka 40P in 87GP in AHL
Brett Pollock 31P in 28GP Edmonton WHL
Denis Guryanov playing in the Russian junior League (an odd pick)
Roope Hintz playing in the Finnish SM Liga.
I admit I have to wonder about those 2015 picks but Nill has a long track record of discovering NHL players in Europe so at this point I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
To summarize, Nill had some pretty nice pieces to work with when he took over the Stars (Jamie and Jordy Benn, Klingberg on the way, Goligoski etc.) but he immediately got to work and acquired the pieces needed to win all while stock piling his prospect depth.
To be able to acquire Seguin, Spezza, Sharp and Oduya, Demers and all that D depth without losing anything of consequence is just remarkable.