Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk
and the Stars newly acquired veteran right wing Jamie Langenbrunner
are proof of how hockey deals can come full circle.
Nearly nine years ago it was then Dallas general manager Doug Armstrong working a deal with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to send both Nieuwendyk, then a veteran forward, and young Langenbrunner to New Jersey. Friday morning, Nieuwendyk, now occupying Armstrong's old chair inside the Stars' front office, brought Langenbrunner back to Texas.
"He's the boss and not my roommate anymore," Langenbrunner said. "It's going to be a little bit different."
Nieuwendyk clearly didn't do this blindly. He knows exactly what his surprising first-place team should get from Langenbrunner, now a 35-year-old right wing, two-time Stanley Cup winner and Olympic silver medalist.
His confidence in Langenbrunner was enough to convince the team to add payroll to a team in the middle of a sale. Nieuwendyk had to give up a conditional third-round draft pick to make it happen, but it's a move he considered a must for the Stars, who lead the Pacific Division with 52 points.
"I know Jamie probably better than anybody and I think there are a number of fronts where he fits in well with our group," Nieuwendyk said on a conference call Friday. "We haven't had right(-hand) shots for quite some time. Jere Lehtinen
retired and we have really been missing a right-shot, power-play presence. From a performance standpoint, he's really going to help us. He can solidify a third line with (Steve) Ott and (Adam) Burish. He obviously has the capability to play up in the lineup, too. I know he's had success playing the point on the power play in New Jersey and that's an area we could utilize him as well.
"Aside from the on-ice performance I know the character of Jamie and I know he's going to be a terrific fit."
Langenbrunner, who played 432 games with Dallas before being traded to New Jersey on March 19, 2002, was expected to arrive in Dallas Friday night, but won't play for the Stars until their game Sunday in Minnesota.
"I have a lot of respect for Joe…and the way he treats not only teammates but the staff, from the GM up to the person cleaning the locker room," Langenbrunner said. "He understands different guys do different jobs and they're all important. You see that in how he's built that team. I feel privileged to play for him."
Langenbrunner had to waive his no-trade clause to come to Dallas. He's in the final year of a five-year contract, so he can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Whether he gets to the open market remains to be seen.
"I think it's we're a little ahead of ourselves with that," Langenbrunner said. "I'm sure from their standpoint they have a bigger-picture prize so to speak with Brad Richards
. It's something that would be on my wish list, but it's a long time before that. I'm more focused on this right now."
It's funny that Langenbrunner mentioned Richards, because as soon as this trade was made official Friday morning the status of Dallas' leading scorer, another pending unrestricted free agent, became a hot topic.
Richards had been considered the most attractive prospect on the trade market this season because his contract is expiring and he's a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner. However, it doesn't appear that Nieuwendyk is in any rush to move Richards, especially considering Dallas' surprising rise up the Western Conference standings.
Nieuwendyk said he has received permission to pursue a contract extension with Richards.
"They've given us the go-ahead to do what is right for the hockey club and they know we strongly feel pursuing Brad Richards
to an extension for us is good for our hockey club. They haven't held us back from that," Nieuwendyk said. "We've enhanced our team today and I think Brad will respect that knowing that we're doing everything possible to win hockey games."
Richards told reporters in Dallas that negotiations have not begun between his agent and the Stars.
"I'm having fun right now playing and it's not an ideal situation to be talking about or trying to deal with right now, especially with things going so good," Richards said. "I'll leave that up to my agent and those guys. That's their world. My world is right here. I can sleep easy because in the end it'll be my decision what happens."
For now Richards, like the rest of the Stars, is thrilled to add a player with Langenbrunner's character and experience.
"You got a guy here that is familiar with Dallas, familiar with a great many in our fan base and he's a quality leader, a captain not only of his own team but of the U.S. Olympic team last year and a guy with vast playoff experience," Stars coach Marc Crawford
said. "If you're talking about a shot in the arm, well we've gotten a tremendous one here today.
"We happened to have No. 15 open and it's great that it is. He'll be a wonderful addition to our club."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl