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Stars need physicality, size from Lindell this season

Defenseman is entering the start of a new six-year contract extension

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Esa Lindell

Position: Defenseman

Shoots: Left

Height and weight: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

Age: 25

Contract: Entering first year of six-year deal that averages $5.8 million a season

 

About last year

Video: DAL@STL, Gm5: Lindell nets goal off defender

Lindell took a huge step up in responsibility, as he led all players in total time on ice for the season and became a huge factor in team defense.

Lindell jumped from 22:05 in average time on ice the season before to 24:20 last season. Some of that was due to John Klingberg missing 18 games with an injury, but a lot of it was due to the fact the Stars used Lindell a great deal to kill penalties. Lindell led the team in shorthanded time on ice in the regular season at 3:14 per game and Dallas ranked fifth in penalty kill success at 82.8 percent.

Even more impressive in the playoffs, Lindell averaged 4:30 in shorthanded time on ice and Dallas ranked first in the league at 94.6 percent. Lindell averaged 26:58 in time on ice in the playoffs, which ranked fourth in the NHL.

Lindell posted his best numbers in his NHL career during the regular season with 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 points, and was rewarded in the summer with a six-year contract extension that averages $5.8 million per year.

 

Overview

Video: PHI@DAL: Lindell goes between the legs on deflection

Lindell's contract extension sparked some discussion in the summer on whether or not the 25-year-old defensive defenseman deserves that kind of money when he's not a huge producer. There also was some concern that Lindell does not post good possession numbers, and is not seen as a great puck mover.

Lindell finished last on the Stars in SAT (shot attempt differential at even strength) at minus-281. That was seventh-worst in the NHL and was in direct contrast to the plus-79 that John Klingberg had. Lindell was often partners with Klingberg, who led the team in SAT.

Lindell also was second worst on the team with 92 giveaways. Despite those numbers, he found a way to be plus-14 in plus-minus, and adds that to the plus-19 he was the year before. That plus-33 is second on the team in the two-year span.

Lindell was also plus-137 in SAT in 2017-18, meaning that last season could be an outlier.

 

Going forward

Video: DAL@STL: Lindell slides across to block a sure goal

Bottom line, the left-handed defenseman is going to be a part of the Stars' core for years to come.

He led the team in blocked shots at 161 and was third in hits with 143. He will continue to lead the penalty kill, and there's a chance he will be a regular on the second power-play unit as well, so he could see his number increase. He might even get the chance to move in front of the net more regularly with the man advantage and try to tip pucks, set screens or pounce on rebounds.

The Stars have two fantastic offensive defensemen in Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen, but they need Lindell to provide physicality, size and a steady hand on defense.

Their belief is Lindell will continue to improve in his fourth full NHL season and will make his contract look good in the years to come.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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