"We are looking for Niko to become a solid contributor for us in 2004-05," said Armstrong. "Our hopes are that he returns to the form he showed in his rookie year two seasons ago."
Kapanen, 26, appeared in 67 games with Dallas last season, posting one goal and five assists for six points. He also played in one playoff game versus Colorado, tallying a goal in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Two seasons ago with the Stars, Kapanen appeared in 82 games and registered five goals and 29 assists for 34 points with 44 penalty minutes and a +25 rating. Among NHL rookies two years ago, he finished first in assists, first in plus/minus, tied for first in shorthanded goals (1), tied for first in shorthanded points (1) and fifth in scoring. The 5-9, 180-pound center, appeared in the 2003 Topps/Youngstars Game in Florida on Feb. 1, 2003 and was the only player on the Western Conference to record a "plus" rating (+1).
Scoring the first three goals of his NHL career against former Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy in three different games in his rookie season, Kapanen was the Stars' sixth round selection (173rd overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. In 158 career NHL contests with Dallas, he has notched six goals and 35 assists for 41 points with 62 penalty minutes. Kapanen has also appeared in 13 career playoff games over the past two seasons, recording five goals and three assists for eight points.