Penalty killing was an absolute disaster for the Dallas Stars last season. A “historically bad” kind of disaster.
While Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, and Antoine Roussel are still on the roster, the other big penalty killer from seasons of yore is not longer here — he filed a change of address as soon as the Vegas Golden Knights took him in the expansion draft earlier this month.
With Cody Eakin gone, there seems to be an opening for a penalty killer on the roster.
That’s likely one reason why the Stars are reportedly going to sign Martin Hanzal as a free agent. The big net-front-presence-style forward was a big part of the Arizona Coyotes penalty killing unit for several seasons before being traded at the deadline to the Minnesota Wild.
Update: 3 year deal, $4.75 million cap hit the terms of the deal
I may have forgotten to put this out earlier, Martin Hanzal's terms in DAL, 3 x $4.75M.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2017
It’s a bit of a head scratcher move still, though. The Stars seem set at center with Tyler Seguin-Jason Spezza-Radek Faksa down the middle. Who plays pivot in the top nine will be sorted out during training camp — the Stars likely wanted to acquire talent and role players and will figure the rest out after the fact.
This also raises some questions in my eyes about the potential return of two young forwards.
Mattias Janmark, who missed all of last season with a degenerative knee injury, isn’t likely going to be thrown in on the top six right away playing big minutes. I would imagine the team is going to take the cautious approach with him to ensure that he’s truly good to go, so I expect him to start in the bottom six or even as the 13th forward that rotates in every few games. But maybe he isn’t fully ready to start the season and Hanzal’s signing will give Dallas the depth they need for their lineup.
This also could signal that Valeri Nichushkin is staying in Russia to play out the second year of his KHL deal and have the option to be chosen to play for the Russian national team at the Winter Olympics next season. That means that Dallas has holes in the top six to flesh out, and Hanzal’s signing could be an effort to do just that.