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Perry, Sekera ready to 'prove people wrong' with Stars

The motivated veterans on bargain deals might be in the perfect place for a bounce-back season

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Both Corey Perry and Andrej Sekera present interesting opportunities, but with a little bit of risk involved.

Each has battled injuries in recent years and each was bought out by their respective teams because it was deemed their value on the ice didn't match their salary-cap hit. Perry had to fight back from a knee injury last season and was scheduled to make $8.625 million with the Ducks for the next two seasons. Sekera had overcome knee and Achilles tendon problems and was set to make $5.5 million with the Oilers for the next two seasons.

So it wasn't really a surprise when each were bought out in the past two weeks and allowed to become unrestricted free agents.

 

[MIKE HEIKA: Why new addition Pavelski fills Stars' scoring and leadership needs]

 

But that process created an interesting scenario for the two players. One, the buyout money they are receiving from their old teams allows them to take a bargain-basement deal with their new team. And two, each appears extremely motivated to bounce back from the buyout and prove the league wrong.

As such, the Stars are pretty happy they landed Perry on a one-year deal at $1.5 million with the ability to earn $1.75 million more in performance bonuses, and signed Sekera to a one-year deal at $1.5 million with the ability to earn $500,000 in bonuses.

Video: Nill happy with the Stars' moves in free agency

"We're fortunate to be in a good position and our team is trending," Stars general manager Jim Nill said when asked about the ability to woo Perry and Sekera into the deals.

"I think everyone in the league saw what we did in the playoffs and where we're heading. Because of a combination of all of these things, here we sit today, and some major players became available. We were able to get into the mix with them, and it worked out well for us."

Perry is 34 and is coming off a year in which he had just 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 31 games. However, he has 332 career goals and was a first-team All-Star in 2011 and 2014. The 6-foot-3, 213-pound winger has been considered one of the best players in the NHL in the past, and the Stars believe he can find some of that magic again.

"We knew there was going to be a period when people were watching him in February and March, he was struggling," Nill said. "But you know that Corey Perry has been a world-class player. He's won Olympics, he's won Stanley Cups, he's been MVP of the league, he's won scoring races.

"Those guys just don't go away. He's still got the fire in him."

Video: Perry 'looking to win another Stanley Cup' in Dallas

Sekera, 33, played on the top pairing with the Oilers in 2016-17. He had 35 points (eight goals, 27 assists) in 80 games and logged 21:29 in time on ice per game.

"What we like is his ability to move pucks and that he has been a top-two or top-four (defenseman) in the NHL," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "He was Edmonton's No. 1 defenseman for a couple of years, and was so in Carolina before that. This is a guy who has been leaned upon by a lot of coaches."

Both players say they enter with a chip on their shoulder provided by the buyouts.

"I know I have a lot of things to prove and that's the engine that drives me," Sekera said. "I'm still a young guy and I want to play hockey as long as I can. I will do all I can in my power to make sure that I'm ready for 120 percent."

While Perry added: "For me personally, I'm going in there with the right attitude and motivation to prove people wrong. I've done that throughout my whole career and it's worked so far and hopefully it continues to do that."

Video: Montgomery discusses Stars adding Pavelski, Perry

Montgomery said that he believes the Stars will be seeing fully healthy players when training camp starts. Both finished last season on the ice, and made progress in recovering from their respective injuries.

"They do take a year to be yourself again," Montgomery said. "So I think that's why we have so much confidence in them."

Even with the bonuses, the Stars are getting players who have big upside at a reasonable price. So, yes, there is the risk they don't bounce back. But if they do, the Stars will be happy to pay the bonuses.

"These are some of the best hockey players in the world, and they've got a lot to prove," Nill said. "They've both gone through tough injuries, were bought out by their teams, and they're not done yet. That's what excites me.

"They're guys who want to prove what they can do, and they've got a resume that proves it, and we're kind of the benefactors of that."

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, and listen to his podcast.

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