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Blue Line Bolster

by Scott Burnside @OvertimeScottB /

If you're the box-ticking sort - and who among National Hockey League general managers doesn't pretty much do that for a living? - this is an awfully nice box to tick off if you're the Dallas Stars.

Big, veteran defenseman who shoots left and just happens to know a whole lot about playing with a high-end, skilled defender.

Welcome to the Victory Green of the Dallas Stars, Marc Methot.

The first thing former NHLer Jason York, now a national analyst in Canada, thought when he heard about the deal Monday night was that Methot is going to play with the closest thing to the dynamic Erik Karlsson when he gets to Dallas.

"How good is that," York said after the trade between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Stars was announced. "Almost perfect."

The assumption is that Methot, who played mostly with Erik Karlsson with an Ottawa team that shocked most observers by advancing to double-overtime of Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final against eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh, will end up playing with the Stars talented Swede John Klingberg.

But really, given Methot's skill set, he can play with any of the young guys on the right side of the Dallas blue line, including Klingberg or Julius Honka or even Stephen Johns.

"I think Methot is a really, really simple and straightforward player who doesn't try to get out of his own game," said former NHLer and longtime national analyst Ray Ferraro. "He stays within himself really well."

Methot, selected in the expansion draft by Las Vegas on Wednesday night, is 32 years of age and has two years left on his current deal with an annual average salary cap hit of $4.9 million.

"He's played with the best offensive defenseman in the league and has always been a safety net and a security blanket," Ferraro said.

But that doesn't mean Methot can't make plays. He can. And he's a deceptively good skater.

"You can't play with a talented player if you don't have the ability to move the puck yourself, and he does that," Ferraro said.

York highlighted Methot's play against Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby during the dramatic conference final as part of the package of skills he brings to the table.

"People don't understand how big he is," York said. "He hits hard but clean. He's one of the premier D at playing guys like Crosby because he's got the leverage, because Crosby can overpower a lot of D."

There were rumors at last weekend's draft that the Golden Knights were dangling their sixth overall pick and Methot in the hopes of nabbing the third overall pick owned by the Stars. But Dallas GM Jim Nill wasn't swayed by any of the calls that led up to the Stars selecting Miro Heiskanen.

Two days later Nill got the veteran presence on the left side he was looking for by sending netminder Dylan Ferguson, the 194th overall pick in the 2017 draft, and a second-round pick in 2020 to the Golden Knights.

"That's not a big price to pay for a top four D-man," York said.

The move gives head coach Ken Hitchcock multiple options in deploying his top six defenders but Methot's presence in the locker room will also be important.

"He's a terrific guy, upbeat personality," Ferraro said. "He's going to be a big loss in Ottawa as much off the ice as on."

Young players sometimes feel they must do everything, Nill said Monday night.

Veteran players like Methot are important in teaching those younger players they don't have to do everything, just their jobs.

"He understands his role," Nill said of Methot. "He knows what to do."

"It really solidifies our defense," he added.

One veteran scout called Methot "a very solid D-man" and suggested the trade was a "win-win" praising the mix of styles now assembled along the Dallas blue line.

So, lets recap.

Since missing the playoffs last spring, Nill has hired veteran head coach Ken Hitchcock, acquired and signed top-end netminder Ben Bishop to a long-term deal, and now added a highly regarded defensive presence to stabilize the blue line on the left side.

All ahead of free agency.

Unless a trade materializes, the team's defensive lineup looks set, Nill said.

When free agency opens on July 1, there are a couple of forward positions, especially on the wing, for Nill to explore. But as of Monday night, much of the box-checking has been completed and well ahead of schedule.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter @OvertimeScottB

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