By Adam Brady
As he tested free agency for the first time in his 14-year NHL career, Shawn Horcoff knew exactly what he was looking for. Having spent 12 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers (coming oh-so-close to winning a title with them in 2006), and the last two campaigns in Dallas, Horcoff had one thing in mind – a chance to win a Stanley Cup. He knew he had a strong chance in Anaheim.
“After playing against the Ducks in the playoffs two years ago and watching how close they came this year, I know Anaheim’s hungry to win,” Horcoff told the Edmonton Journal.
The Ducks had a need as well, in light of the realization that gritty center Nate Thompson would be out until December after undergoing shoulder surgery in mid-June. So they signed the veteran Horcoff to a one-year contract in hopes he can add depth at the center or wing slots.
Horcoff, who is 51 games from 1,000 for his career, had 11 goals and 18 assists while averaging 13:01 of ice time last season in Dallas. He was also a plus-nine who won 50.2 percent of his faceoffs.
The former Michigan State Spartan had six points in six games for the Stars against Anaheim in the First Round of the 2014 playoffs. He was a major contributor to the Oilers team that downed the Ducks in five games in the Western Conference Final, back in 2006, when Edmonton ultimately fell to Carolina in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.
Horcoff has 11-18=29 points with a +10 rating and in 41 career postseason games, including that ’06 run when he had playoff career bests in goals (7), assists (12) and points (19).
He’ll be 37 in September and says, “I don’t know how many years I have left. It’s all legs.”
He will wear No. 22 in Anaheim, a number worn for several years by another gritty center/winger (and former Oiler) Todd Marchant.
Horcoff was a captain for three seasons in Edmonton, where he was teammates with current Ducks winger Andrew Cogliano. “I talked to Cogs throughout the (free-agency) process,” he says. “We’re good friends.”
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray emphasized that bringing in a former captain like Horcoff – along with fellow veterans Kevin Bieksa and Chris Stewart – provides an element that needed a boost. “We felt that our leadership needed a little more veteran support,” Murray said. “We’re getting leadership back there.”
Horcoff’s final goal with the Stars (on March 21 in Dallas) was something the Ducks could have used more of last season – a power play strike and scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks.
This pretty tip-in in the third period was part of an eventual 4-0 victory for Dallas over Chicago at American Airlines Center and was the 11th goal of the year for Horcoff.