The Dallas Stars announced that they have signed defenseman Jeff Woywitka to a two-year, one-way contract worth $1.3 million. He's a big guy with good skating ability and he put up pretty decent numbers in junior hockey in the WHL and in the AHL as well. He's slowly started to put it together at the NHL level and last year has his best season as a pro, netting 3 goals and 15 assists with a +8 rating on the year.
Woywitka is an interesting signing for the Stars. I like the player, he's a decent signing for the price but now Dallas has a logjam of sorts at defenseman. There are now eight defensemen under contract for the Stars after the signings of Karlis Skrastins and Woywitka and someone is going to have to move.
Either the Stars are planning on sending one of the young defenseman (Nicklas Grossman, Matt Niskanen, Mark Fistric or Dan Jancevski) to start the season in the AHL, or they're gearing up to make a move via trade. Mike Heika suggests a move could be on it's way, although that's just mere speculation at this point. To me Jancevski is the odd man out and he'll start the season with the Texas Stars. If there's a viable trade to be made, the Stars now have some pieces to offer but you have to like that the team is addressing some of the depth issues that exists in the organization.
[Note by Brandon Worley, 07/07/09 10:37 PM EDT ] Once again, Hull Fan is here to straighten me out. Right now, Jancevski is the only defenseman that could be sent down to the AHL without having to pass through waivers. This certainly leads to the thought that there's a trade on the way, although it's not completely necessary.
This also gives Dallas time to further develop Ivan Vishnevskiy without the rush to move him full time to the NHL. You get the feeling that the team is hesitant to move him back and forth between the AHL and NHL and when he does make the jump to the Stars, they're going to want it to be a permanent move. Right now he's the future No. 1 defenseman, and they want to make sure he's ready when he finally come up to the NHL.
Follow the jump for the Dallas Stars press release, as well as the stats and info on Jeff Woywitka.
FRISCO, Tex. – Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced today that the club has signed defenseman Jeff Woywitka to a two-year contract worth $1.3 million ($600,000 for the 2009-10 season, and $700,000 for 2010-11).
"We are pleased to welcome Jeff Woywitka to the Stars organization," said Nieuwendyk. "He’s gained some solid experience the last few years with St. Louis and we feel he brings valuable depth and stability to our defensive corps."
Woywitka, 25, skated in 65 games with the St. Louis Blues last season, registering three goals and 15 assists for 18 points and 57 penalty minutes, all personal highs at the NHL level. He appeared in four Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Blues this past spring. He has skated in 152 career NHL games, all with St. Louis, recording 35 points (6 goals, 29 assists) and 106 PIM.
Originally selected by Philadelphia in the first round (No. 27 overall) in the 2001 Entry Draft, Woywitka notched seven assists in seven games with the Peoria Rivermen (AHL) in 2008-09. The season prior, he led Peoria in plus/minus (+15), tied for first amongst Peoria defenseman in goals (10) and was second in assists (20) and points (30) among club blue-liners.
The 6-3, 217-pound defenseman played four seasons with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League from 1999-2003, and was a member of Red Deer’s Memorial Cup championship club in 2001. The native of Vermilion, Alta., was honored in 2002-03 with the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s best defenseman.