Esa Lindell will be with the Dallas Stars for a long time, and the Dallas Stars are looking forward to every minute of it. The big, quick defensive defenseman is expected to become one of the best in the NHL – and to help bring the rest of the blueline with him.
Sean Shapiro takes a look at the six-year, $34.8 million deal that will help ensure the Stars’ defense is “really as good as anybody in the league,” according to GM Jim Nill. Head coach Jim Montgomery didn’t even try to downplay his glee over Lindell’s long-term presence:
“He impacts the game so much more than people realize,” Montgomery said. “He’s an impact player who decides a lot of games whether we are winning or losing because of his ability to shut people down. His ability to create transitional offense, his ability to win one-on-one battles, his competitive level. And the exciting part to me is there is so much there room for growth with him, in my opinion.”...
“He already manages [his] minutes so well, but he’s only going to get better with the puck,” Montgomery said. “He’s had three different head coaches. So what’s gonna happen when he actually knows what he’s supposed to do in all situations and can start the year like that? At both ends of the ice, he’s just gonna be so much more comfortable and more commanding of how we’re going to play with him and his teammates, like vocally. And demanding, not only [of] himself, but his teammates. This is someone that is a huge part of our core leadership.”
Make no mistake about that leadership part – Montgomery will look to Lindell to take a big role in the locker room:
“That’s the biggest room for growth as a Dallas Star; it’s his leadership we want to bring more out of,” Montgomery said. “He has so much respect in the dressing room, and people want to hear him. He’s just not there yet where he asserts himself in that capacity, but that’s something that’s going to happen more and more with him. I think this contract in itself says ‘You are a main guy now.’ That, and his evolution as a person. He has leadership qualities, and he’s just getting to that age where he’s going to be able to vocalize. I don’t think it’s going to be all the time, but I think when he does, it’s going to get the whole attention of the dressing room.”
It seems the rest of the league is watching, and approves:
“That’s a lot of money, but he’s worth every penny,” an NHL scout said Thursday after Lindell’s deal was announced. “[The Stars] have the makings of one of the best defensive groups in the NHL.”
There’s more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Here are some handy bullet points on Lindell’s best season yet.
Esa Lindell's 2018-19 season with the @DallasStars:— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) May 17, 2019
✅ Career-High in Time on Ice (24:20)
✅ Career-High in Blocked Shots (161)
✅ Career-High in Hits (143)
Not too bad, eh? #GoStars pic.twitter.com/JdmdYAqGny
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