Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sean McCullen of NHL.com,
Here are four reasons for the Stars to be optimistic:
Goaltending depth (and competition): With the addition of Niemi, the Stars won't have to ride incumbent No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen, who played in 65 games each of the past two seasons and looked worse for the wear in 2014-15, when he had the second-worst save percentage (.903) of his NHL career.
Niemi was 31-23-7 with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and five shutouts in 61 games with the San Jose Sharks last season.
"They're both very competitive guys, so they're going to push each other, which I think is the best thing," Nill said.
More commitment to defense: The Stars were not good defensively last season, finishing tied for 26th in the League in goals allowed (3.13 per game). They were particularly bad in October and November, when they allowed an average of 3.46 goals over 24 games.
"We didn't early on buy in to you've got to play the game both ways," Nill said. "And a little bit of that is inexperience with a young group of guys. We learned our lesson. By about December we figured that out; the trouble was we had already dug a hole for ourselves."
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Seguin said he is in control of what seems to be a hectic life — and the key is focusing on hockey.
“Any of these things away from hockey, those are my calls,” Seguin said. “If I get an invitation, it’s up to me to say yes or no. I kind of have the personality where I’m all for it. I think it’s a lot of fun.”
And that’s why he often says yes. Why wouldn’t he want to be in the “Body” issue? He works hard to maintain his physique, so why not show it off? And when he did that, he joined an elite group of hockey players that includes Zdeno Chara, Brad Richards and Ryan Kesler.
Why wouldn’t he want to write for The Players’ Tribune, the media website founded by Derek Jeter that gives players a voice? In addition to telling his story firsthand, Seguin put himself in with a group of elite athletes. He gets to mingle with people who have lived the dream he is seeking.
“You can call it expanding the brand or whatever, but I think it’s just fun to be out there and to be able to talk to top athletes in other sports and see what they’re doing,” Seguin said. “I’m meeting LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter. I get to pick their brains, and they’re superstars who have made it, and that’s where I want to be some day.”
That’s why the entertainment side is important. To truly succeed these days, you have to make yourself a marketable commodity. Seguin is handsome, charming and gregarious.
from Paul Costanzo of the Times Herald,
Jack Campbell is entering a “prove-it” year with the Dallas Stars organization. So to prepare, he came home.
“I love being back home in Port Huron, it just helps my mind so much,” Campbell said. “It’s so relaxing. I’m never in a rush. I’m just kind of hanging out and enjoying the beautiful scenery, so it’s good.”
The 23-year-old goaltender said he’s spent more time in Port Huron this summer than he has since 2010, the summer before his first Ontario Hockey League season in Windsor. It’s not just about relaxing, either. He’s teamed back up with strength and conditioning coach Mike Pearson to prepare for the Stars training camp, which begins on Sept. 19.
“Every time I come out here, I’m getting stronger, faster, more flexible,” Campbell said. “I’ve been really working on my body this summer. More importantly, I come out and work with coach because it really helps my mind. I’ve never felt more at ease and confident at the same time. It’s been a great summer.”
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News answered some questions...
If the Stars get off to that really bad start again this season do you think Ruff gets fired during the season?
Heika: He will be on a very hot seat if they get off to a slow start. That said, Jim Nill is a very patient man....
Do you think GM Nill is in the market for another d-man? Maybe Franson or Ehrhoff? What about a possible trade for Phaneuf? Or do you think he waits and see's what the kids bring to the table?
Heika: They are set for right now, I believe. Plus, their contracts are in a good place, so taking on a big contract with a lot of term could create some real issues down the road when raises need to be given.
more Q & A on the Dallas Stars...
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Sharp was introduced to the Dallas media Monday in a press conference at American Airlines Center. The 33-year-old winger was cordial and enthusiastic and smart. He talked about the positive buzz that’s surrounding the team right now after the acquisition of himself, defenseman Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi, and he stopped short of saying the team is now ready for a big surge.
Instead, he explained: “Expectations aren’t anything new to me as a player. The organization that I’m coming from set high expectations and standards right from day one of training camp, and that filters down through the players. It doesn’t matter what team I’m playing for, I’m proud to be here. I’m proud to be a Star, and my expectations are going to be just as high as they always have.”
What Sharp is saying is he understands the hype, he understands the need for positivity, and he understands winning in the NHL isn’t easy. Not by a longshot.
That kind of was lost on the Stars last season.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
This summer, the Stars improved at every position. They acquired Antti Niemi from San Jose to push Kari Lehtonen. They landed Patrick Sharp from Chicago in the Blackhawks’ march toward cap compliance. They signed Johnny Oduya to replace Trevor Daley, one of the pieces that went to Chicago in the Sharp deal.
But Dallas’s most important acquisition is one that will never pull on a green-and-white jersey.
On June 15, the Stars hired Jeff Reese as their goalie coach. Mike Valley, who previously held the position, shifted to director of goaltender development. Reese, formerly Philadelphia’s goalie coach, will be responsible for turning Lehtonen around and squeezing more performance out of Niemi. Reese’s pedigree suggests that neither task will be impossible.
Upon his exit from Columbus on April 3, 2013, Steve Mason did not resemble the up-and-coming goalie who won the Calder Trophy in 2008-09. Mason, sent to Philadelphia for Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-rounder, was on the bust trajectory.
But under Reese’s watch, Mason rediscovered his technique and swagger. In 2014-15, Mason went 18-18-11 with a 2.25 GAA and .928 save percentage. According to War On Ice, Mason was ranked No. 7 in saving goals above a replacement-level netminder. The top six were Carey Price, Cory Schneider, Devan Dubnyk, Marc-Andre Fleury, Semyon Varlamov, and Braden Holtby.
If Reese can submit similar work with Lehtonen, the Stars will be in good shape. General manager Jim Nill has shaped his high-skilled club into an attacking, dynamic group. The Stars play the game of the future, which centers on transitional speed.
more plus other hockey topics...
from Mark Stepneski of DallasStars.com,
When Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill signed defenseman Johnny Oduya to a two-year contract Wednesday, he called it the last piece of the puzzle for the team this offseason. Other pieces added included forward Patrick Sharp and goaltender Antti Niemi.
While Nill has been busy acquiring pieces, Stars coach Lindy Ruff has been busy pondering the possibilities of how the pieces will fit. And reflecting on the commitment from ownership.
“It’s really important for us to take that next step. These guys have been winners and know how to win. They should help us get there,” Ruff said. “Ownership has really stepped up and said we can make this team better. I’ve got to give Tom [Gaglardi] and his family a lot of credit for making this team better with the last couple of pieces here. It’s been tremendous.”
The Stars’ three key acquisitions own six Stanley Cups between them, all with Chicago. Sharp leads the way with three.
“When I talked to him, he felt he had a little bit of an off year last year. He is really excited to come to Dallas. He seemed to be a real pain in our side when we played them. He’s got a great goal-scoring touch,” Ruff said. “Obviously, he brings the experience of winning Stanley Cups in Chicago. That kind of experience is tough to duplicate. He’s a veteran guy that has been there, knows how to win and should help with the youth of our team.”
from the CP at NHL.com,
The Stanley Cup isn't won in the off-season. If it was, start engraving the trophy for the Dallas Stars.
With the signing of defenceman Johnny Oduya on Wednesday, the Stars put the finishing touches on an off-season that didn't transform the roster but filled the kind of holes that should put them back in the playoff picture.
"We're in the beginning of, I think, where we should be starting to make the jump," general manager Jim Nill said.
Dallas acquired and signed Antti Niemi to a deal that strengthens its goaltending, even if it's at a hefty price of US$4.5 million over three years. The Stars then traded defenceman Trevor Daley and bottom-six forward Ryan Garbutt to the Chicago Blackhawks for scoring winger Patrick Sharp and defensive prospect Stephen Johns.
Signing Oduya, who won the Cup with the Blackhawks last month, to a $7.5-million, two-year deal was "the last piece of the puzzle," according to Nill. What it did was effectively replace Daley and make the Sharp trade look even sharper.
Oduya is 34 now, perhaps a step slower than he was as a teenager when Nill scouted him. But he's an immediate upgrade on the Dallas blue line.
via the Dallas Stars,
Daryl Reaugh and Dave Strader discuss the acquisition of Johnny Oduya.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The bad thing about signing Johnny Oduya is the hype that gripped the NHL on a couple of lazy days in July makes it seem a much bigger deal than it is.
Oduya is a good player who had a tough decision. He signed for two year with the Stars at $3.75 million a season when there seemed to be more money on the table from other teams. He is coming to the Stars because he believes in what they are building and because former teammate Patrick Sharp did a great sell job.
But he’s probably not the last piece in a Stanley Cup champion _ and it seems that’s how the Twitterverse is feeling today.
The Stars had a nice summer. They were the 10th place team in the West and finished five points behind eighth place Calgary, so they needed a nice summer. They added a big-time goalie in Antti Niemi, a veteran scorer in Patrick Sharp and a smart defender in Oduya. But Niemi is 31 and had a so-so season last year. Sharp is 33 and had a so-so season last year. Oduya is 33 and had a nice role where he was supported by some very strong defensemen in Chicago.
There are still questions to this plan.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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