No review of the Dallas Stars’ 2018-19 season is complete without a discussion of Stephen Johns’ lost months. The talented defensive defensemen began his struggle with post-traumatic headaches near the end of training camp last September, and he would not dress for a single game because of them.
Ever since, Stars fans have dreaded learning what might be next for Johns, and the team has worked (and often struggled) to plan around his possible permanent absence. So it’s galvanizing to read Sean Shapiro’s latest update at The Athletic DFW:
“Right now, he looks very good. I would say it’s very positive with where it’s trending,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “He’s been skating, and he looks like the old Stephen Johns. I think we are trending in a positive mode. For him, that’s a great sign. He feels much better, he looks like himself and sounds like himself, and right now we are pretty positive with where he is heading.”
Johns’ return would solve several issues for the team at once – so of course, Nill can’t count on it, yet:
How the Stars feel about Johns’ status at the end of this month is going to greatly impact how they approach the offseason. If Johns is healthy and can play at the level he was at two seasons ago, the Stars are in a pretty comfortable spot on defense. If Johns isn’t ready to go, the Stars have a rather large hole to fill.
“It’s a financial jigsaw,” Nill said. “We got probably two spots (for unrestricted free agents), and how much money is going to go to those two spots? And how do you allocate it? And Stephen Johns’ injury comes into play and what’s available (on the market).”
There’s much more behind the paywall – including the latest on Martin Hanzal, the intricate courtship of Mats Zuccarello, and how the Seattle expansion draft and the status of Roope Hintz will affect the Stars’ considerations going forward. [The Athletic DFW]
Don’t forget to bookmark the Stars’ 2019 NHL Draft hub, which currently includes a where-are-they-now piece on the class of 2016.
2019 NHL Draft guide: Date, time, TV schedule, live stream, picks https://t.co/YSsi0QFOPd via @NHLdotcom— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) June 17, 2019
Around The League(s)
The San Jose Sharks have stuck their Erik Karlsson landing, and the defenseman has landed the white whale of contracts – eight years, $92 million.
"I don't even think that I fully understood at the time what it really meant."— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) June 18, 2019
After re-signing with the Sharks, Erik Karlsson explained to @BrodieNBCS how playing in the All-Star Game in San Jose proved to be a sign of things to come https://t.co/DwJO36x8kV pic.twitter.com/KW9KIyTI7p
So what does Karlsson’s mammoth deal mean for their other pending free agents, including captain Joe Pavelski?
#SJSharks sign Erik Karlsson to biggest deal in team history; Where does that leave Joe Pavelski? "I don’t think anybody should rush to conclusions on anything." https://t.co/MAp9UaOjXQ via @mercnews— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) June 17, 2019
Jacob Trouba is off the market, as the New York Rangers jump feet-first into rebuild mode.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the 2019 #NHLDraft (originally from WPG). pic.twitter.com/rZTXYv4YG1— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) June 17, 2019
The hockey media is, ahh, underwhelmed. Did the Winnipeg Jets get pantsed by taking Neal Pionk, even in a trade that includes their own 20th overall pick?
TRADE— dom luszczyszyn (@domluszczyszyn) June 17, 2019
Rangers: Jacob Trouba
Jets: Neal Pionk and a 1st
Trouba is a top-pairing defenseman. Pionk is... not that, despite his usage. pic.twitter.com/nKB25ckpcB
Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals have re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million extension.
Carl Hagelin cites Capitals’ Stanley Cup window and role on team for re-signing. "I don’t think I ever thought about going to free agency." https://t.co/JLYYWx7TtJ— RMNB (@russianmachine) June 17, 2019
Phil Kessel is playing hardball to stay with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it looks as if the Minnesota Wild is on the losing end of it.
Deal reported to be to Minnesota, not one of forward's acceptable destinations https://t.co/4YdlutReYE— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) June 17, 2019
Ambassador of Fun Brett Hull, ladies and gentlemen.
Nobody was celebrating harder than Brett Hull at the Blues' Stanley Cup parade. MORE @ https://t.co/c9ELWImsdj pic.twitter.com/Klu3fOj0ST— BarDown (@BarDown) June 16, 2019