Dallas Stars Defensemen Kevin Connauton Claimed Off Waivers By Columbus Blue Jackets; Jyrki Jokipakka Recalled
Kevin Connauton never found his niche in Dallas, and now gets the chance to ply his trade in the Eastern Conference with the Columbus Blue Jackets after they claimed him off of waivers.
Kevin Connauton came to Dallas when the Dallas Stars traded Derek Roy to the Vancouver Canucks.
At the time, he was vaunted as an offensive defenseman whose development within the Canucks system had stagnated a bit at the AHL level. We concluded that he was a "high reward" acquisition by the front office at the time.
However, his offensive skills never quite translated to the NHL level for the Dallas Stars. With the "offensive defensemen" like Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley on the Stars' blueline already, Connauton never truly found his niche and found himself in the press box more often than not.
While he needed to be playing minutes, the Stars organization last year kept him up with the big club due to his waiver status. Obviously they thought he'd be able to challenge for time and they didn't want to lose him for nothing.
This year, he didn't stand out in camp and while he didn't look terrible in his few games he also didn't do much to push the coaching staff to put him in to play over rookies like Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, and Jyrki Jokipakka who all seemed to have bypassed Connauton on the depth charts.
With a lot of restricted free agents on the blueline that will need new contracts next summer in Jokipakka, Cameron Gaunce, Nemeth, John Klingberg, Oleksiak and Brenden Dillon, the Stars needed the roster space to be able to see what they have down below from the guys that are knocking on the door.
Connauton's skills just didn't fit into the system and the roster as it is currently constructed, and he's been bypassed on the depth chart this year. He should get a decent shot at ice time in Columbus, with a roster that doesn't have as much redundancy on the mobile offensive blueliner side.
For Dallas, this should open up a spot for Jyrki Jokipakka to be the seventh defensemen. In his few games with the big club this season, he's looked solid and gives the coaching staff new options on the backend.
[Ed. Note: Jokipakka was indeed recalled early this afternoon to fill the roster opening left by Connauton's departure. He has played three games in the NHL this season with two shots while registering a goal in nine games for the AHL's Texas Stars.]
Hopefully some of the new pairings that could come out of this move will find stabilization for a blueline that's been a sore spot so far this season.
Here's the official release on both the waiver claim and the call up:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka has been recalled from the Texas Stars, Dallas' development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Jokipakka, 23, appeared in his first-career NHL game this season against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 24, and has skated in three NHL contests so far in 2014-15, posting two shots. A native of Tampere, Finland, Jokipakka has skated in nine games this season for Texas, posting one goal and 11 shots for the club.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman was selected by Dallas in the seventh round (195th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
Earlier today, defenseman Kevin Connauton was claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Connauton, 24, skated in 44 career NHL games, all as a member of the Stars, earning 10 points (1-9=10) and 22 penalty minutes in his time with the club. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta was selected by Vancouver in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. He was acquired from Vancouver along with a second round pick in 2013, in exchange for Derek Roy on April 2, 2013.