Just an hour into the start of free agency on July 1, the day's first signing by the Dallas Stars was announced. That a signing would come that quickly for the Stars was a bit of a shock; that the first signing was a defenseman by the name of Adam Pardy was an even bigger one.
Pardy wasn't exactly a player that many fans had on their radar, a young defenseman who played just 30 games last season with the Calgary Flames. After two years of consistent improvement, Pardy became a regular 6th and 7th defenseman with the Flames and this summer decided to look elsewhere. Turns out, the Stars had been keeping up with Pardy for quite some time. Turns our, Pardy himself was a bit surprised as well.
"I was a little surprised," Pardy said when talking to the media on Thursday. "It was early in the day. The contract they came at me with, it wasn't something I could just turn down. It wasn't just the money or anything, I just feel that Dallas is a really good fit for me. Looking at the players there, especially the coach and knowing what he's bringing."
"Dallas is always a team you take note of. They're a tough team to play against. I was maybe a bit surprised it was so early but I'm happy they did."
After the signing, Nieuwendyk mentioned that Pardy was a player they had been following for a while now and the team believes he's a guy that is going to really grow if given the chance to expand his game in Dallas with a bigger role and more minutes. He'll certainly get that chance with a two-year, $4 million contract but it's that opportunity to really prove himself that has Pardy excited.
"Playing penalty kill and playing more minutes against top two lines is where I want to be and where I am going to work to be with Dallas," he said. "I want to be a part of this group that really blends in well, brings something that is very physical and is very hard to play against."
Much more after the jump...
Pardy has never been a big points guy and he knows he's not likely to suddenly break out into Alex Goligoski anytime soon. What he wants, however, is to continue to become a dependable and physical defenseman who continues to grow offensively and can contribute in moving the puck up the ice effectively. Pardy is already established as puck-blocking defenseman who can be physical in front of the net and he's working on improving to become more of a 'complete' player.
"I am just going to try to be a two-way player," Pardy said, when asked about his playing style. "Defensively is the biggest thing, making sure I am taking care of my own end and then trying to make plays out of my zone," he said. "I've been working on my skating the last couple years and it's getting better. ... That's a big thing, trying to escape out of my own zone and create off the offense. I know I am not going to lead too many rushes, but if you can be a part of it and be a hard player to play against is what I need to bring."
Pardy played just 30 games last season, initially missing two months with a separated shoulder then seeing his season end when he required surgery in February. He's played in 60 and 57 games in the two seasons prior, so he has experience in being more than just a 7th defenseman -- contributing on a regular basis during games. When healthy, Pardy was averaging 16 to 20 minutes a game with the Flames; while he certainly isn't a household name Pardy should be able to contribute more than certain defensemen that have since departed.
As for the injured shoulder, he says he's good to go now -- based on all that golf he's been playing this summer.
"It's feeling great," Pardy said. "The surgery was back in February, so it's been almost five months now. It's feeling great. There hasn't been an issue with it so far. Doctors said it would be six months, so give it another month and you're technically cleared to play. I know I could play right now."
Pardy is already familiar with a few new faces in the Stars organization, namely new coach Glen Gulutzan. Pardy played 41 games for Gulutzan with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. Drafted in the 6th round by Calgary, Pardy was a bit of a late bloomer and it was that season with Gulutzan that he really started to improve as a defenseman and enjoyed his first true "breakout" season, moving up to the NHL just a few seasons later.
Pardy is excited about what he feels Gulutzan will bring to the Stars as the new coach.
"He believes that you've got to be happy coming to the rink every day," said Pardy. "You can't worry about the stress of everything. If you lose a bad game you've got to wake up the next day and play again. If you don't have to play again then find a way to get over it and you've got to get over it really quick. He believes in that. He believes in having fun, playing an exciting game and playing hard. He expects a lot, but he expects everyone to have fun doing it. It's always good when you have a coach and a leader like that."
Pardy has also spent some time playing with new pugilist Eric Godard, and nothing but great things to say about a player everyone agrees is a great teammate.
"He's an awesome guy, just a great teammate. Always there for his teammates, always has a smile on his face. He's always joking but he's very serious about the game. He keeps it loose. Everyone knows what kind of fighter he is; he's not a very big guy but he can tilt with anyone. He's a great guy to have on board."
Finally, I had to ask Pardy about something I'm always interested in hearing about when players first make the transition to playing professional hockey in North Texas. Pardy has spent nearly his entire career playing hockey in Canada -- outside of some time in the ECHL and AHL -- and has spent the last three seasons in Calgary, where they have nothing else to talk about but hockey.
Things will be much different here in Dallas, and I asked Pardy how he felt about making that transition.
"No snow is going to be the biggest thing," he said, after a chuckle. "The market, too. Calgary is a crazy market, everyday it's in the papers. Everywhere you look they're talking about hockey, whether it's good or bad, everyone is talking. It's going to be a little different, but I'm looking forward to being in there and really focusing on hockey and not really having the criticism as you would have in the Canadian market."
Just be better than Jeff Woywitka and we promise not to be too critical, Mr. Pardy.