- Edmonton-born defenceman Mark Fistric thought a trade might go down this season, but even he was surprised it happened so soon.
And he couldn't be happier about it.
The 26-year-old former first round pick was acquired by the Oilers Monday in exchange for a third-round draft choice in 2013.
"It all happened pretty quick, which was a little surprising," Fistric told edmontonoilers.com as he strolled through the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, waiting for his connection to Edmonton. "I was on the ice (when I found out); it was the second day of camp for us in Dallas. There was a little break in our practice to have a special teams meeting. Just as I was about to head back out onto the ice, (Stars GM) Joe Nieuwendyk pulled me aside and let me know that he had traded me and that I was going to Edmonton.
"The next thing I know, I'm on a plane and headed back to my home town. The whole process and transition to a new team is a lot easier knowing that I'm coming to a city I know quite well and have a lot of support there."
Fistric has recorded three goals, 23 points and 220 penalty minutes in 257 career NHL games. Born and raised in Edmonton, the 6-foot-2, 233-pound rearguard played minor hockey with the Maple Leafs Athletic Club. After graduating to the WHL, he spent four full seasons as a defensive stalwart with the Vancouver Giants.
Fistric and his wife, Geena, already own a home and spend their off-seasons in Edmonton.
"I actually have a couple friends staying there right now," laughed Fistric, an Eastglen High School graduate. "I think I'll have to go stay with my family for a bit.
"I'm in the city all summer -- I'm a north-ender, right alongside the river. We've been there a while, so I hear a lot about the Oilers. In playing them four times a year with Dallas and hearing about how promising their future is, how exciting they are to watch and the speed they bring, it's a really exciting team. I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
With Andy Sutton and Theo Peckham on the shelf, the Oilers needed a hard-hitting, stay-at-home presence on the blue line. Fistric describes himself as such: "I'm a physical player," he said. "I love dishing out hits and I take great pride in killing penalties, blocking shots and helping out my goalie."
"We need specialists to make this a winning process," said Oilers Head Coach Ralph Krueger Monday at Rexall Place. "Fistric is a specialist in what he does. He's a big body who plays a tough game, is difficult to play against and is a great penalty killer."
Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini said that "a lot" of NHL executives are in the market for the "same kind" of addition to their roster. Due to the emergence of Brenden Dillon and Jamie Oleksiak in the Stars system, as well as the acquisition of former Vancouver Canuck Aaron Rome over the off-season, Fistric became available.
"A player like this might not be available in a week from now," he said. "We wanted to be proactive. Fistric is going to be a great addition -- he's a smart defensive defenceman and that's what we need."
"For me, it's going to be a fresh start," Fistric said. "It's obviously an exciting opportunity, but also very nerve-racking coming home and playing in front of all my friends and family. Once the nerves settle down in a day or two, I'll be able to concentrate more on the excitement of coming to help the Oilers win."
Fistric will arrive in Edmonton via Minneapolis/St. Paul late Monday night. He'll then report to Rexall Place for a medical assessment at 8:00AM Tuesday morning before participating in practice.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick