With the Dallas Stars season coming to an end today, the Athletic’s Sean Shapiro (subscription required) spoke with Dallas general manager Jim Nill in a Q&A about the team’s disappointing season which resulted in a second-straight season in the lottery (three out of five, if anyone is asking), despite the team’s offseason efforts to compete for a Stanley Cup immediately.
Nill says while the team is still trying to figure out what went wrong, the team’s top priority is to focus on re-signing center Tyler Seguin, who is coming off a career-high 40 goals this season. He has one year remaining at just $5.75MM and can sign an extension on July 1. The question no one is certain of is what does Seguin want? Regardless, the team intends to stick with Seguin whether or not he signs an extension on July 1st.
“I know some people are worried, but he’s got a year left and I anticipate he’s going to come in and play well and get going,” Nill said. “I hope to have him signed before that year starts, but if it doesn’t we’ll go through that process. There are some things that are an advantage, we can offer eight years compared to seven, so there are a lot of factors that come into play.”
- In the same mailbag, Nill said that he believes that 2013 first-rounder Valeri Nichushkin will be back in Dallas next season. The former 10th-overall pick played three seasons in Dallas, but struggled at times and opted to return to CSKA Moscow of the KHL for the past two years. With two more years of experience, the 23-year-old could make big contributions to the team next year if they can bring him back, according to Nill.
- Nill also said, in Shapiro’s column, that he believes that 2017 first-round pick Miro Heiskanen looks ready to contribute to the team and is likely to come over next year. “I watched him closely in the Olympics, we’ve had scouts over there watching him,” Nill said. “He’s right there. He’s ready to come over. There will be a little transition time, living in a different country and stuff, but he’s very close.” The fourth-overall pick could change the state of their defense quickly if he’s as good as advertised. The 18-year-old has put up improved numbers in his second year playing in Finland’s top league, as he 11 goals and 12 assists in 30 games this year.
- Mike Heika of SportsDay writes due to the contracts they have acquired over the past year, the team is all in on trying to win a Stanley Cup soon and will be forced to reload as opposed to rebuild their team. The scribe believes that the Stars should look to trade veteran forward Jason Spezza, who will have one more year at $7.5MM and retain half his salary. Spezza struggled this year under head coach Ken Hitchcock, scoring just eight goals this year, his lowest number since his rookie season. Heika believes that with another coach on another team, Spezza could still be a productive second or third-line center and at $3.75MM, there could be a lot of takers.
- Heika, in the same column, writes that Stars’ fans have likely seen the last of backup goaltender Kari Lehtonen. The scribe believes that with starter Ben Bishop always dealing with minor injury issues, the team needs a backup who is capable of controlling a game. Lehtonen, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has not been that guy. He put up decent numbers this year with a 2.58 GAA and a .911 save percentage, but Heika believes the team needs a young goalie with more potential.