Forward Dustin Jeffrey, claimed off waivers by the Stars on Sunday, went through his first practice with the team Tuesday morning in McKinney. Jeffrey, who has been in and out of the lineup with the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, said he is excited about the opportunity in Dallas.
“I’ve been looking forward to a fresh start for a little bit,” Jeffrey said. “It was frustrating playing only half the games and I feel like I could have contributed more to the lineup. So coming in here and hopefully getting to play every night, I am welcoming that fresh start and looking forward to the opportunity to prove myself.”
Jeffrey played in ten of Pittsburgh’s games this season, registering one assist. He’s played for Pittsburgh the last four seasons, picking up 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists) in 100 games. Cracking a deep Pittsburgh lineup on a regular basis was tough for Jeffrey, a sixth round pick in the 2007 NHL draft. But he picked up a lot playing with one of the top teams in the league.
“They taught me a lot about being a pro, what I need to bring every night to stay in the NHL,” Jeffrey said. “I credit that a lot and I am going to try to bring that with me here and put it in the lineup.”
Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, who played with Jeffrey in Pittsburgh, offered a scouting report on the 25-year-old Ontario native.
“Good two-way guy, he can move up and down the lineup. He’s responsible. Good shot, good vision. Just a really smart player,” Goligoski said. “He’s a good pickup for us.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff is familiar with Jeffrey, as well.
“I saw him a little bit in the East. He’s a good skater,” Ruff said about Jeffrey. “You can never have enough depth. We’ll watch him in practice and we’ll make a judgment or a call of when we are going to get him in a game.”
The 25-year-old Jeffrey is listed at 6-1, 205 pounds. He is a left shot who can play center or left wing, and he can play in a lot of different situations. Jeffrey said that versatility helped keep him an option for the Penguins the past four seasons.
“I think that is the one thing in Pittsburgh that helped me stay with the team and jump in the lineup,” Jeffrey said. “I can play up and down the lineup, play center or wing and power play or penalty kill. I took on a lot of different roles in the American League and in Pittsburgh. So, coming in here, whatever role the coaching staff wants to use me, where ever I can pick up the quickest, I hope to contribute that way and hopefully my role will grow as I stay longer here.”
Jeffrey had a tough time cracking a deep Pittsburgh lineup on a regular basis, but he said he learned a lot playing for one of the top teams in the NHL.
The Stars like Jeffrey’s versatility and he adds more depth, which is important over the long grind of the NHL season.
“He’s fallen behind some pretty good players (in Pittsburgh),” Ruff said. “Our scouts feel he can be a good addition to our team. Knock on wood, we haven’t run into too much in the injury department, but depth is always a real good thing to have.”
*Forward Erik Cole did not practice Tuesday. He was given a maintenance day.
“We gave him an extra day,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He got a little banged up late in the game in Vancouver.”
*Stars forward Ray Whitney, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, practiced Tuesday. His status for Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers is still up in the air.
“Ray is coming,” said Ruff. “I wouldn’t call today a hard practice, but it’s the first practice where he has gone through the full paces almost at full speed. We’d like to get him in some more compete stuff and see where he is later in the week.”
Here’s how the Stars lined up at times in Tuesday’s practice in McKinney.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Rich Peverley – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Lane MacDermid – Shawn Horcoff – Antoine Roussel
Dustin Jeffrey – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Ray Whitney (IR)
Brenden Dillon – Stephane Robidas
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Sergei Gonchar
Not skating: Erik Cole (maintenance day)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.