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Stars D-man Johns hopes to make NHL debut in '15-16

NHL.com @NHL

Stephen Johns was traded by the Chicago Blackhawks to the Dallas Stars along with Patrick Sharp earlier this month, but unlike Sharp, the defenseman is no lock for an NHL roster spot.

"I am just going to be like every other guy here, battling for a spot, competing and doing whatever I can," Johns told the Stars website Wednesday. "Personally, I think I am ready, but it's not up to me. I am going to do the best that I can, play the best hockey I can and try to impress them."

Johns, 23, played last season for Rockford of the American Hockey League and had four goals and 21 points in 51 games. He didn't play for the Blackhawks, who had a healthy defense during the regular season; Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya each played at least 76 games. Johns will try to make his NHL debut with the Stars after training camp in September.

"I've known Stephen since he was 17 years of age," Stars general manager Jim Nill said earlier this month. "I saw him when the U.S. Under-18 team (was) in Ann Arbor and at the World Juniors. I saw him play at Notre Dame all four years back in my Detroit days scouting, so I've seen him for a long time. I was able to watch him in the American League and watched him play [the Texas Stars] in the playoffs, and I thought he was the best player on the ice. We're excited about his potential and think he's going to be a good fit for us down the road."

Johns and Sharp were traded for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

Johns was in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday to meet teammates and staff members. He skated with captain Jamie Benn and defenseman Jason Demers.

"Everything you see and hear about this organization, it is on the rise," Johns said. "There's a lot of youth and a lot of fun being had down here. I am just excited for the opportunity to be in the organization."

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