Dallas Stars – Time to Win

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I’ve been very impressed by the work of Jim Nill since he took over as GM in Dallas…his latest move being the acquisition of Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns in return for his worst veteran defenseman and a couple of spare parts.

Patrick Sharp has the potential to quickly return to his former 30 goal scoring days since he will be playing with either Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza as his centre and back in a top 6 role after spending most of the past season on Chicago’s 3rd line.

TSN’s number guy, Scott Cullen, breaks down the trade and offers a couple of money quotes:

There ought to be a good opportunity awaiting Sharp in Dallas too. Last season, his ice time was cut – 16:49 per game was his lowest since 2005-2006 – and he spent a fair amount of time on Chicago’s third line (his second most-common linemates were Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw). In Dallas, Sharp is surely going to play on one of the top two lines, which means having either Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza as his centre; all the more reason to suspect that Sharp should be productive in 2015-2016.

That Sharp has been a better-than-56% possession player over the past four seasons is in part a credit to the talent with which he played in Chicago, but also an indication that he should be a positive possession player with the Stars.

 

Johns is an NHL-ready defence prospect. The 23-year-old was a second-round pick in 2010 and played four years at Notre Dame. The 6-foot-4, 233-pounder plays a physical game and has 33 points (8 G, 25 A) in 67 (regular season plus playoff) AHL games.

In Dallas, Johns will compete for playing time with the likes of Patrik Nemeth, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak and Jordie Benn. Given that there are so many relatively inexperienced defencemen contending for playing time in Dallas, it would come as no surprise if they managed to get involved in the free agent market to add a veteran like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, Jan Hejda or, to stick with the current Chicago theme, Johnny Oduya.

Not much more to be said in this case…the Stars win this trade going away and the fact they add to their already bursting pipeline of blue chip D prospects just seals the deal.

However, there are still some observers who are questioning Nill’s strategy in building a contender in Texas. Chief among those was Lowetide poster Ryan who generally is a pretty reasonable individual.

RYAN says:

Dashingsilverfox,

What I know about Johns is less than zero.

Jim Nill likes taking on bloated contracts on declining players and the early returns haven’t been great so far.

He also has some new theories on cap management relative to spending on goalies.

Is any of this true?

No, it isn’t.

The object of any offseason is to assemble a roster that has the best chance of winning in the following season.

Nill’s offseason moves (and I don’t think he’s finished) is to ice the best product possible under the cap without compromising the team’s long term prospects under the cap. 

None of Nill’s acquisition will have any long term consequences.

Patrick Sharp has only 2 years remaining on his contract, which coincides EXACTLY with the expiration of Jamie Benn’s deal.

Next season, Dallas has 11 roster players reaching free agency and all but Alex Goligoski, are NOT key pieces so Nill will have a ton of flexibility in roster building.

Ryan and others have also been pointed in their criticism of Nil”s move to sign Antti Niemi to a 3 year $4.5M contract to be Dallas’ 1B goaltender, somehow seemingly suggesting that having two established NHL goaltenders is a bad thing.

You know what they say about goaltending…”when you have it…it’s 50% of the game. When you don’t have it…it’s 100% of the game.”

You would think any Oiler fan would know this as they once again approach another season with unproven goaltending.

And, of course, if you look at why Dallas missed the playoffs last season, their goaltending was a major red flag.

Now, it’s more than likely that Kari Lehtonen returns to his career SV% of .914…but, if he doesn’t, Nill can call on Niemi with his career .916 to fill in.

The thing is, Dallas had the cap space to acquire Niemi and unused cap space is worthless since it doesn’t carry over to subsequent seasons.

With goaltending pretty much solidified, the most pertinent questions revolve around the Dallas D.

Alex Goligoski is an anchor on the 1st pairing and I think there is little doubt that John Klingberg is going to be a star 1st pairing, point producing stud.

Things get a little murkier after that since Jason Demers and Jordie Benn are the only other veterans but the Stars have a boatload of big, mobile, puck moving young D ready to step up and make a difference.

Patrik Nemeth, Jyrki Jokkipaka, Jamie Oleksiak and, now, Stephen Johns, are all NHL ready and most have already seen significant NHL GP and will improve with experience.

I believe that Nill, with $6M remaining free cap space should sign another veteran D to shelter the young guys and, remember, if he does, he’ll likely also move another player or 2 to regain some cap space.

No way around it folks, Nill has built a close to elite team in Dallas and it’s time to win NOW.

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