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Features

Arrival of Sharp, Oduya, Niemi gives Stars optimism

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Sean McCullen - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Dallas Stars appear primed to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after an offseason when they added three players who've won the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Stars got off to a slow start last season -- they were 9-10-5 through November -- and finished seven points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

It was a disappointing step back for Dallas, which made the playoffs for the first time in six seasons in 2014.

"We need to make the playoffs," general manager Jim Nill said. "We need to be a consistent team. The idea is to make the playoffs every year, so that's our goal."

Here are four reasons for the Stars to be optimistic:

Oduya, Niemi among key questions for Stars

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Sean McCullen - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Dallas Stars are confident they did enough this offseason to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them last season.

The Stars were second in the NHL in goals (3.13 per game) in 2014-15 but finished tied for 26th in goals allowed (3.13 per game).

"We know we can score goals," general manager Jim Nill said, "but it's still going to come down to how we play away from the puck that's going to be the biggest thing."

Here are three questions facing the Stars entering this season:

Stars trying to upgrade defense to match offense

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Sean McCullen - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

The Dallas Stars were busy this offseason not only trying to assure they get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs but looking to build a perennial contender.

Forward Patrick Sharp, acquired in a July 10 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, and defenseman Johnny Oduya, signed as a free agent July 15, bring a winning pedigree to Dallas that could help the young Stars reach the top of the Western Conference this season and for years to come.

"We're excited and we know we're going to be good offensively," general manager Jim Nill said. "Our biggest thing is going to be playing the game the right way both ways, and we're going to do that."

Flyers' Giroux glad linemate Voracek got big contract

Tuesday, 08.11.2015 / 10:53 PM / NHL Insider

Sean McCullen - NHL.com Staff Writer

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux is glad to know he could play on the same line with Jakub Voracek for at least the next seven seasons.

Voracek signed a multiyear contract extension with the Flyers on July 30. TSN reported it is for eight years, $66 million.

"I'm really happy for him, and it's really good for our team," said Giroux, who is entering the second season of his eight-year, $66.2 million contract. "I think we have some room for improvement to get even better chemistry, but I think we've been doing a good job of finding each other and communicating on and off the ice to know how we want to play.

"Jake just cares so much that every time he comes to the rink he wants to win, and he's really fun to be around."

Healthy Dupuis, Letang sure to give Penguins lift

Tuesday, 08.11.2015 / 7:57 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have had an offseason packed with roster changes, but the best personnel news might be the return to full health for two of their longest tenured players.

Forward Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Kris Letang each said Tuesday he is 100 percent and eager for training camp to start.

Dupuis missed the final 66 games last season with a blood clot in his lung, and Letang missed the final seven games and the five-game loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round with a concussion.

"I'm in great shape," Letang said at a charity golf tournament hosted by Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "I got on the ice last week, so I'm following the same program I follow every summer. There was no delay in that sense.

"I'd say it's been one of my best summers in terms of training and how I feel."

Therrien sees Semin as 'nice challenge' for Canadiens

Tuesday, 08.11.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- When the Montreal Canadiens signed free agent forward Alexander Semin to a one-year contract last month, one of the first questions that jumped to mind was how would he mesh with coach Michel Therrien.

The Carolina Hurricanes bought out the final three years of Semin's five-year, $35 million contract because, as general manager Ron Francis said, they did not feel he competed enough on a consistent basis.

Therrien is known as a coach with high demands on his players in terms of work ethic, and he said Tuesday at his charity golf tournament he's eager to start working on making sure Semin is able to meet those demands.

"It's a nice challenge, that's how I look at it," Therrien said. "He's a guy that's full of potential, and there's an opportunity for him to get back to where we think he can be as a player, and where I imagine he also thinks he can be as a player. We're going to give him an opportunity, and it's the type of player we were missing when you looked at our team. He's a guy who can score, who can make plays and who's shown in the past that he can contribute to the success of a team offensively. But as far as I'm concerned, I see it as a challenge."

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