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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Is Stephen Johns On The Brink Of Return?

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No. 28 is back on the ice and “looks like himself” again, says Jim Nill. Plus, the Sharks sign Erik Karlsson to a whale of a contract, the Rangers round up Jacob Trouba, and more.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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]


Stars Stuff

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.

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.

So what does Karlsson’s mammoth deal mean for their other pending free agents, including captain Joe Pavelski?

Jacob Trouba is off the market, as the New York Rangers jump feet-first into rebuild mode.

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?

Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals have re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million extension.

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.

Finally

Ambassador of Fun Brett Hull, ladies and gentlemen.