Most teams carry 23 players on their roster throughout the year, unless they (like the Stars not too long ago) are so hard up against the cap that they have to stay at 22 or 21 for a period of time.
This generally means that a team will carry either 14 forwards and seven defensemen, or 13 forwards and eight defensemen, as the Stars have quite frequently done, back when things were normal-ish.
But credit to Jim Nill: he found a way for the Stars to carry 14 forwards and eight defensemen next year: By signing Mark Pysyk (pronounced PEH-syk) to a one-year, $750K deal, as he did today.
It's funny that out of all the players in the league, Pysyk is one of 2-3 guys who have successfully played forward & defense in the same season.— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) October 10, 2020
Pysyk is depth, certainly. He’s a positive player on the blue line, and in fact he set career highs last year in goals and points, thanks in large part to some shifts up front in addition to his steady play at defense.
As a right-handed shot, Pysyk can be considered as something like Stephen Johns insurance, given the uncertainty surrounding Johns’s return to the lineup. Pysyk is a good penalty-killing defenseman, and his versatility is its own testament to his skating ability and awareness with the puck.
This piece by Stephen Whyno has some good info about Pysyk’s positional flexibility, and while I wouldn’t expect Rick Bowness to look for forward ice time for Pysyk, one never knows when a coach will need to pull the ol’ Dan Jancevski (or Jamie Oleksiak, if you remember back in 2017).
All told, the Stars got a cheap defenseman who should be able to contribute when needed. And if you’re curious about what his ceiling is at 27 years old, I think you can safely say he’s capable of surprising you:
Here’s the official release:
FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed defenseman Mark Pysyk to a one-year, $750,000 contract.
Pysyk, 28, set career highs by posting nine goals and 18 points (9-9=18) in 58 regular-season games played for Florida in 2019-20. Finishing with a +4 plus/minus rating, he was also used at right wing at times throughout the season. In four postseason contests, he registered eight shots on net and did not record a point.
Appearing in 417 regular-season games over eight seasons with Buffalo and Florida, he has recorded 88 career regular-season points (22-66=88). He also earned a bronze medal, along with Jamie Oleksiak, for Canada at the 2010 World Jr. Championship.
“Mark is a solid, puck-moving defenseman and gives us another right-handed shot on the backend,” said Nill. “We feel that his skillset lends itself to how we ask our defensemen to activate and he will be a good fit.”
The 6-foot-1, 196-pound native of Sherwood Park, Alberta was originally selected by Buffalo in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.