More Dallas Stars joined the informal skates in Frisco this week as players gear up for the start of training camp. Among the latest arrivals were goaltender Antti Niemi, forwards Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel and defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka.
Eakin hit town less than two weeks after signing a four-year contract extension worth $15.4 million, or an average of $3.85 million per season.
“It’s very exciting. A little unexpected and it happened pretty quick. I am very excited to have that done,” said Eakin, who has one year left on his current contract. “It gives me confidence, and I am excited to be part of this organization for the next five years.”
The 24-year-old Eakin set career highs in goals (19), assists (21) and points (40) in 78 games played last season, his third with the Stars after being acquired from Washington for center Mike Ribeiro.
“Cody is a big part of our team now and in the future,” Stars GM Jim Nill said after the deal was announced last month. “He’s a very versatile player; you can play him up and down the lineup. He’s very responsible. He’s good in his own end, and he can score. The coaches love him because he does all the little things right. He’s competitive. We just think he is going to get better, and we are showing a commitment to him that he is a big part of our future.”
This round of contract talks between the Stars and Eakin went smoothly. It was a lot different the last time. Eakin missed training camp and preseason games one year ago while the two sides worked out a two-year, $3.8 million deal.
“There weren’t very many back-and-forths [this time], and it was done,” Eakin said. “I was really happy that it went like that. They came to me before my contract was done, so I am very happy it didn’t turn out like the last one.”
So were the Stars.
“It’s important for both parties,” said Nill. “It’s important for him. We’ve shown a commitment to him. We believe in him. He’s a big part of this team moving forward.”
Here’s the lineup of Dallas Stars players who have been skating in Frisco recently.
Goaltenders: Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Jack Campbell
Defensemen: Alex Goligoski, John Klingberg, Jason Demers, Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak, Stephen Johns, Julius Honka, Esa Lindell
Forwards: Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Valeri Nichushkin, Ales Hemsky, Cody Eakin, Patrick Eaves, Vernon Fiddler, Antoine Roussel, Colton Sceviour, Travis Moen, Curtis McKenzie
Notes: Ritchie out after wrist surgery
*Stars forward Brett Ritchie is expected to be out three to four months after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his wrist. Stars GM Jim Nill said Ritchie injured the wrist in late August while training.
*Stars 2015 first-round pick Denis Gurianov, who is playing in the KHL, is out with a shoulder injury. Nill said Gurianov could miss two to three weeks. Gurianov suffered the injury while playing for Russia’s national junior team at the 4 Nations Tournament in late August.
Prospects head to Traverse City
The Dallas Stars prospects playing at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan were in Frisco Tuesday to undergo some testing. On Wednesday morning, they headed to Michigan.
The tournament, which gets underway Friday, features prospects from the Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues.
“It’s very good hockey. It’s intense, playoff-style hockey. And the best part is you get to evaluate players at their age group, which is a lot easier to do,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “When you bring in a young player into training camp and he has to go against a Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza, they are intimidated and they are nervous, they’re young and still immature physically. When you take them to these rookie tournaments they are playing against kids their own age, they can show what they can do, and it makes the evaluation a lot easier.”
The Dallas roster will feature many of the team’s top prospects, including first-round picks defenseman Julius Honka (2014), center Jason Dickinson (2013) and center Radek Faksa (2012). Defenseman Stephen Johns, acquired from Chicago in the Patrick Sharp trade, is on the roster along with defenseman Esa Lindell, the top defenseman in Finland’s top league last season. Philippe Desrosiers, who was named the top goaltender in Canadian junior hockey last season, is one of two goalies for the Stars.
“It’s a good roster,” Nill said. “We have a good backend, and we’ve got some good players up front. They are all good teams; they’ve all got good, young prospects. That’s what is great about the tournament, it is highly competitive. The kids play their hearts out because they want to show their organizations what they can do.”
Here’s the Dallas roster for the tournament.
Goaltenders: Philippe Desrosiers, Brent Moran
Defensemen: Julius Honka, Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns, Patrick Sanvido, Ludwig Bystrom, Aaron Haydon, Alex Peters, Chris Martenet
Forwards: Radek Faksa, Jason Dickinson, Devin Shore, Remi Elie, Gemel Smith, Brett Pollock, Branden Troock, Cole Ully, Mattias Janmark, Emil Molin, Mads Eller, Chase Witala, Brandon Magee
Here’s the Dallas schedule for the tournament.
Here’s the Dallas schedule for the tournament. The Stars’ fourth opponent will be determined by their ranking after the first three games.
Friday Sept. 11, vs. Chicago, 6 p.m. (CDT)
Saturday Sept. 12, vs. Carolina, 2:30 p.m. (CDT)
Monday Sept. 14, vs. Detroit, 6:00 p.m. (CDT)
Tuesday Sept. 15, vs. TBD
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.