Defenseman Jason Demers, acquired in a trade Friday, was on the ice at American Airlines Center this morning as the Dallas Stars prepared to take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight.
“It’s different. It happened pretty quick,” Demers said after this morning’s skate. “It was a whirlwind. Within an hour I was on a plane here. It’s a different feeling, but the guys have been great welcoming me in.”
The Stars acquired Demers and a third-round pick in 2016 from San Jose for defenseman Brenden Dillon. The Stars have seen a lot of Demers over the years.
“He’s a good puck-moving guy, a right-handed shot,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “He’s a guy that can jump in to be in your top four and eat up a lot of minutes. That’s what he is going to bring to us. It’s going to be exciting.”
Demers gives the Stars two right-handed shots on defense. He was paired with Daley this morning. John Klingberg, the other right-shot, was paired with Alex Goligoski.
“They’ve got a lot of lefty shots, and with Klingberg and myself that’s two more righties,” Demers said. “They just told me to play my game, and I’ll just kind of wade my way in and see where I fit. I’m not too worried about that, I’m just going to do what I do.”
It’s a different look on defense for the Stars, who started the season with all lefties on the blue line.
“It’s something we’ve talked about ever since I got here,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “It goes back to my Detroit days. I think every team’s trying to get to that point. It’s just it’s hard to get to. But it’s something that we’ve focused on. It is an important part of the game. I think you look at all the successful teams, a lefty/righty situation is very important. So it’s something we knew we had to get to. It’s just a process to get there.”
Demers also practiced on the second power play unit during this morning’s skate with Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky, Patrick Eaves and Goligoski and Daley rotating in as the other defensemen. The first power play unit consisted of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Antoine Roussel and Klingberg.
“I think we’re going to give Klingberg a little bit of a look with that top unit,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, “but that other unit has options whether we want to go one-timers on one side with two lefties or just go with a one-timer up top with Demers. So there’s different options for us.”
Stars lineup notes
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so it appears he will be in goal tonight against the Kings. It will be Lehtonen’s seventh straight start.
Based on this morning’s skate, it appears Jordie Benn will be the scratch on defense and Colton Sceviour will be the odd man out at forward.
Ryan Garbutt remains out with an upper body injury.
Jonathan Quick was the first goaltender off the ice for the Kings, so he is the likely starter in goal tonight.
The Kings are expected to roll out the same lineup as their last game, a 3-2 win over Carolina on Thursday.
Defenseman Alec Martinez remains out with a finger injury.
Darryl Sutter will coach his 200th game as the head coach of the Kings tonight. He has a 109-62-28 record.
Quotable: Stars players on Brenden Dillon
Stars defenseman Trevor Daley: “It’s always upsetting to see guys go. We are with each other every single day. These guys become brothers, and Demers is going to become one of those guys too. When you see guys go it is obviously upsetting but with the business we are in, it’s part of it. These things happen. I’ve been fortunate enough to have never gone through it. I’ve been on the other side, seeing guys go a lot. You wish Diller all the best. Nothing is going to change in our friendship. We wish him all the best. As a team, we are trying to get better.”
Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak: “It’s obviously hard seeing guys go and Dills is a great guy and he was a pretty big part of the team both on and off the ice. I’ve known him throughout the years, and I’ve been fortunate to play with him a couple times. Enjoyed the opportunity getting to know him and wish him all the best of luck in San Jose. I think it’s a good situation for him, and I think he’s going to thrive there. So best of luck to Dills and sorry to see him go, but at the same time we have Demers coming in and he’s a right-handed D-man, which is something we needed and he’s also a great player, so I’m excited. It’s good for both guys.”
Who: Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Curtis McKenzie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Trevor Daley – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Colton Sceviour, Jordie Benn
Injured: Ryan Garbutt (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
Kings projected lineup
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Trevor Lewis
Dwight King – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Tanner Pearson
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Brayden McNabb – Matt Greene
Robyn Regehr – Jamie McBain
Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Jordan Nolan
Injured: Alec Martinez (finger), Slava Voynov (suspension)
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.