The Dallas Stars are bringing in some size on defense, signing Jani Hakanpaa to a three-year contract. The deal will carry an average annual value of $1.5MM. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff tweets that there was something of a bidding war for Hakanpaa, but he chose Dallas to play with the strong core of Finnish players already in place. GM Jim Nill released a short statement on his newest defenseman:
Jani is a big, physical defenseman that sees the ice well and skates at a high level for a man of his size. He is a reliable penalty killer and will help balance out our backend.
If you missed Hakanpaa’s rookie season and didn’t even realize he was on the market, you probably wouldn’t be alone. That’s never-noticed attribute is the calling card of the 29-year-old defenseman, who quietly had a pretty successful season. He played 42 games with the Anaheim Ducks, registering just a single point but racking up 168 hits, before being acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes at the deadline. While his offensive production exploded in Carolina—three points in 15 games!—he won’t be asked to do any of that in Dallas.
Instead, Hakanpaa offers a huge, intimidating frame that punishes forecheckers and net-front players. He can skate well enough to keep up with today’s game even at a hulking 6’5″, and will replace some of the size that Dallas lost when Jamie Oleksiak left in the expansion process.
That won’t be the only physical presence the Stars will add today though, as they have also signed Michael Raffl to a one-year deal. Raffl’s new contract will carry an NHL salary of $1.1MM. Nill released a short statement:
Michael is a solid two-way forward with good hockey sense, allowing him to play in a variety of situations. He has a strong, physical presence on the ice and will add veteran savvy and depth to our lineup.
Not only did the Stars lose Oleksiak on the back end, but with Andrew Cogliano signing in San Jose, they also lost a big part of their bottom-six. Raffl will help fill that gap as a two-way winger who can chip in offensively when needed. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Philadelphia Flyers before a trade took him to the Washington Capitals for last year’s playoff push. In 44 total games, he scored 11 points.
Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News broke the news on Twitter