By Martin Iheke
Your Dallas Stars continued to make news off the ice this past week when they put defenseman Kevin Connuaton on waivers last Monday only to be picked up by the Columbus Blue Jackets the next day. Then they signed forward Jason Spezza to a 4-year contract extension last Friday. However, that was not the only move they made. On the same day, general manager Jim Nill traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Jason Demers and a 3rd round pick in the 2016 draft. “I love Brenden Dillon and I’m going to miss him, but you have to give up something to get something,” Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “We like Jason Demers’ ability to move the puck, we like his hockey sense, we like the fact he is right-handed. We think he can make us better on defense, and we need to be better on defense,” as he continued. With youngsters like Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth (when he is healthy) providing a physical presence, that pretty much made Dillon expendable. Not to mention he is a left-handed defenseman and the Stars wanted to bring in another right-handed defenseman who can get the puck out of the zone better and give it to their forwards on a smoother basis.
Jason Demers, as Nill described, fills this void. He is 26 years old, who is 6-1 and 195 pounds. Do not be alarmed by the fact that he is smaller than Dillon because he is a physical player. In his Stars’ debut last Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings at home, Demers did not waste any time early in the first period showing his ability to be physical as he laid a big hit on Kings forward Jared Stoll that set the tone. He also scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the 2nd period in a 5-4 win. He logged in the most minutes for the Stars at 25:32. After the game, he talked about his first game as a Star. “I think it was a good game. Any time you beat LA, especially for me with my history against them, it’s always fun,” Demers said. “I think the guys played a great effort. We were a little up and down, a little inconsistent tonight but we got the result. They were dedicated, committed to getting the two points and that’s huge for us moving forward,” as he continued.
The Stars have gone from no right-handed defenseman on the roster to having two within the last two weeks. The other righty is rookie John Klingberg who continues to impress. He had two assists in a 6-4 loss at home against the Carolina Hurricanes last Tuesday night, then he scored his first career NHL goal in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes last Thursday night and then scored his second in the win against the Kings. After the game against the Coyotes, Klingberg talked about how he is getting more comfortable playing in the NHL. “If you compare the first game to this game, I feel a lot more comfortable,” Klingberg said. “From the start I tried to come in here and see and learn a little bit, but it’s hard to say. It’s just my sixth game today, so I’m going to fly away. I’m just going to try to stay focused and just enjoy the game and keep going the same way,” as he continued.
Through seven games, Klingberg has two goals, four assists and is a +3. With the trade of Dillon, Klingberg is now paired with defenseman Alex Goligoski as the top pairing on the team. He has a high hockey IQ who forechecks, backchecks, wins puck battles, is a very good passer that allows him to play on special teams and can score. You can put him in a situation and he will not be fazed by it. It just shows you how quickly Klingberg has come along and the amount of impact he has made on the team. The Stars will try to build on their two-game winning streak when the Edmonton Oilers come to town on Tuesday night. Then the Minnesota Wild will be town again on Friday night before the Stars head on the road to take on the Colorado Avalanche for the first time this season on Saturday night.
11/25 vs Oilers 7:30 pm
11/28 vs Wild 7:30 pm
11/29 @Avalanche 8:00 pm