It's probably not because he scored his first NHL goal on Thursday night, but Stephen Johns got quite a thank you present from the Dallas Stars on Friday morning as they signed the rookie defenseman to a two-year contract extension.
Terms of the contract have not yet been released (we will update this story when they are), but Mike Heika reported earlier today that the contract was expected to be one-way, which means Johns would have the same cap hit and salary in the NHL as in the AHL. It's usually a strong indicator of what players are expected to be on an NHL roster at the beginning of the season.
ETA: Here are the terms:
That is a $725,000 cap hit, which is more than reasonable.
He was set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
Johns, 23, was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks along with Patrick Sharp last summer in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. He made his NHL debut during the recent spate of defensive injuries, playing second-pairing minutes alongside Johnny Oduya against some of the best teams in the NHL.
At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he's also been a large part of the Texas Stars success in the AHL this season. This news, though, means he's almost certainly graduated to the big club for good.
The full release from the team is below:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed defenseman Stephen Johns to a two-year contract extension. He was set to become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Johns, 23, has appeared in four games for Dallas this season recording one goal and two penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut on March 11 vs. Chicago, the team that drafted him, registering three hits and three blocked shots in 17:27. Last night, he recorded his first career NHL goal to tie the game at three in the third period vs. Tampa Bay.
In 55 games with Texas of the American Hockey League this season, he has registered 24 points (4-20=24) and a +7 plus/minus rating. At the time of his recall on March 9, his 20 assists ranked third amongst team defenseman, while he shared fourth among all Texas skaters with 43 penalty minutes.
"Stephen did a tremendous job leading in Cedar Park for Texas all season long," said Nill. "He brings size, physicality and skating to our group of defensemen, and we fully expect him to contribute at the NHL level for years to come.";
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Ellwood City, Pa. was originally selected by Chicago in the second round (60th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft and was acquired by Dallas via trade along with forward Patrick Sharp in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt on July 10, 2015.