DALLAS -- It's a big day in Dallas on several fronts. For one, the Dallas Stars officially introduced Tom Gaglardi as the franchise's new owner. But tonight will also mark the first visit of Edmonton Oilers phenom Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to American Airlines Center.
Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in June's NHL Draft, currently leads all rookies with 19 points (7-12-19) and comes off a 5-assist performance in an impressive 9-2 win over Chicago on Saturday night in Edmonton.
In short, he's but one player the Stars need to be aware of in tonight's game, in which Dallas looks to snap a five-game losing streak.
"He's very good. He's quick, slippery and he's certainly a guy we've got to prepare for tonight," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We've got to play him hard and make sure we're defensively sound against those guys."
Two Dallas defensemen who figure to see their share of ice time opposite the talented young Oiler tonight also know what a complete skill set Nugent-Hopkins will bring into this Western Conference matchup.
"He's a heck of a player. For a young guy to break into the League as quick as he has and be as good as he has, it's pretty impressive," Stars blueliner Nicklas Grossman said. "It's not an everyday thing to see guys do. We've got to be aware when he's on the ice. He's got tons of skill out there, so you've just got to be on the defensive side of things, move your feet to keep up with him and play him hard like everyone else."
Stephane Robidas, the most veteran member of the Dallas blue line, agrees that Nugent-Hopkins brings much to the table, but by no means is he the only Oiler he and his teammates have to be aware of every time they hit the ice.
"He looks like he's got really good skills. He's a tall, skinny guy, but he looks like he sees the ice very well, can make plays. You don't go first overall without having good quality. I think he's shown that," Robidas said. "They've got a really good team. They've got good goaltending. We have to be ready. It's not the same Edmonton that we've played a year or two years ago. They've improved their team a lot and are up and coming. We have to be ready for that challenge."
Besides the start of the Gaglardi era and the Stars looking to end their current skid, one interesting side story from the Dallas room is that of veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray, who joined the team during the offseason.
This will be Souray's first game against Edmonton since he last played for them in the 2009-10 season. But when asked whether that adds any extra spice or sizzle to tonight's matchup, he stated in plain and simple terms it will not.
"It's just a regular game day. It's a big game for us. We need the points. We're in a little of a tailspin here," Souray said. "It's really no big deal. Edmonton's not the first team I played for and it's been a couple of years since I played there. It's really just another game for us. It's been a while since I was an Oiler. I'm just really trying to focus on tonight."