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GM Jim Nill talks about deal for Patrick Sharp, Stephen Johns

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

So much for Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill’s quiet offseason. Nill, who has pulled off big trades the past two summers, pulled off another one Friday, acquiring forward Patrick Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns from Chicago in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

Sharp is the big name in the deal. Chicago apparently has been trying to move him to free up cap space. Sharp has two years left on his contract at a cap hit of $5.9 million.

“We are in a great situation with our team, financially and with contracts. This is an opportunity to get an elite player,” Nill said. “Patrick Sharp is one of the elite wingers in the game. He’s got three Stanley Cups, so he is a huge addition to our team.”

Sharp won Stanley Cups with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and this past season. He’s been a 30-goal scorer four times during his NHL career. He’s registered 526 points (249 goals, 277 assists) in 745 NHL games with the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.

“We can put him in our top six, he’s a power play specialist. He does a lot of small things,” Nill said. “The winning and the leadership he is going to bring to the locker room is going to be huge.”

The Stars are high on Johns as well. The 23-year-old, who is a right-handed shot, is coming off his rookie season in the AHL, where he registered 21 points (4 goals, 17 assists) in 51 games. He was impressive in the AHL playoffs, tallying 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 8 games and catching the attention of Nill during Rockford’s first-round sweep of the Texas Stars.

“A big part of the trade was the Stephen Johns kid,” Nill said. “He played for Rockford against [the Texas Stars] in the playoffs and pretty well manhandled us. He’s a big, strong, physical kid. He skates well. I’ve known him for a long time, seen him lots. He brings an element we don’t have. He’s a 6-4, 230-pound man, and he loves to play physical and is a good hockey player. The other part is he is a classy, classy kid. He’s a leader.”

With Daley being traded, the Stars are down to seven defensemen on one-way contracts who all require waivers. Johns won’t require waivers and can be sent to the minors without risk. He joins Esa Lindell, Julius Honka and Mattias Backman in the group of young defensemen pushing for NHL time.

“We want these young players to come in and make it hard on us,” Nill said. “Make us make decisions on who the best players are.”

Is Nill done dealing this summer? Maybe not.

“We’re still looking at a couple other things. Some things might happen. There are some other things out there,” Nill said. “But we don’t have to do anything. If there is a situation that arises, we still have flexibility to do things.”

Whether he does anything or not, Nill said the Stars have made some upgrades this summer thanks to the backing of ownership, which has financed the acquisitions of Sharp and goaltender Antti Niemi. And Nill said it’s time to answer that commitment by taking steps forward on the ice.

“You look at what we’ve done now in net; there’s a commitment there. You see what we’ve done up front. And you can see what we are doing with the defense with the young guys coming in. We’ve got to start going in the right direction here,” Nill said. “It’s all about winning. This shows a commitment from our ownership. They’ve stepped up here financially. They’ve bought the minor league team. It’s a big commitment they’ve made, the ownership group, to show that we are serious about being a Stanley Cup contender.”

Daley, Garbutt head to Chicago

To get something you have to give up something and the Stars gave up Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt in Friday’s trade with Chicago.

“We want to thank both Trevor and Ryan for their contributions to the Dallas Stars," Stars GM Jim Nill said in announcing the deal. "Trevor has been an important piece of the Stars organization for many years and we could not be more grateful to him. The strong leadership he displayed both in the locker room and in the North Texas community has created a lasting impact on everyone around him. We wish them both the best.”

Daley, selected by Dallas in the 2002 NHL Draft, played 756 games for the Stars, ranking eighth all-time in franchise history. Daley put up career-highs in goals (16) and points (38) last season, and Chicago GM Stan Bowman noted Daley’s offensive output in discussing the trade.

“He had his best offensive season last year with 16 goals, which is a lot for a defenseman,” Bowman told the Blackhawks official site. "He scored his last two years in Dallas, I think nine goals and 16 goals, so he's certainly on an uptick with his offensive game, and I think certainly in today's game, having somebody at the back end that can score at that rate is a nice weapon to have.”

Garbutt, signed by the Stars as a free agent in 2011, played 198 games for the Stars and registered 70 points (30 goals, 40 assists).

"[He's a guy] you hate playing against him, but you like having a guy like him on your team," Bowman told Chicago’s official site. "He certainly can agitate with the best of them, he's got great speed as well. He's a versatile player, a good role player, and we expect him to be a contributor. A couple years ago he had a big offensive year (17 goals), so we know he can score goals, and he can play on a checking line or [provide] some offense as well."

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.

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