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Nill talks goaltending, Benn extension, Lindell and more

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars GM Jim Nill was on SiriusXM’s The Power Play Wednesday and talked about a variety of topics, including the team’s goaltending and a contract extension for captain Jamie Benn. Here are some highlights from his appearance.

On the team’s unrestricted free agents

“Well, as we all know we live in a cap world here, and we’ve got to figure our cap out. We’ve got a lot of guys coming up. When we sit down, we almost plan two, three, four years now. That’s what we are doing, and we know we can’t bring everybody back. You sort of start your pecking order and work your way down to see who you can get finished and go from there. Also, we are going to get together with our scouting staff over the next two weeks and [see] who is available in the market, maybe you want someone who is a better fit. That’s what we are going through right now.”

On if the Stars might have gotten a different result in the playoffs if Tyler Seguin were healthy

“I think it definitely would. Tyler Seguin is an elite player, he is close to a point-a-game guy. I am watching the San Jose-St. Louis series right now and you see what Joe Pavelski has done on their power play. Our power play against St. Louis struggled and if Tyler Seguin got one or two goals at the right time that might have made the difference. That’s easy to sit there now and say that, but when you lose an elite player, it is tough. In saying that, we still went to Game 7 of the second round, so it was a pretty good run. Our team, we need to go through this. We have a lot of young guys, and they have to learn what the playoffs are all about. That’s what we did.”

On a contract extension for Jamie Benn and if it will be difficult to get done

“Negotiations are always tough. That’s a part of life, part of business no matter what you are doing. We are going to get something done. He is the captain of our team. He is in the prime of his career. And I know he wants to get it done before the season starts, and so do we. We’ll start working on that, and we’re going to get something done.”

On how the thinking on the goaltending is going

“When I sit back and look at it, if you take away the Game 7, that was a tough game for Kari [Lehtonen], other than that he had a pretty good playoff. That’s the trouble; sometimes you are remembered for your last actions. We did get 50 wins on the year and we were second overall in the league, so there were some pretty good things that happened. We are going to make some adjustments to different things. The things we talked about and we were criticized for during the season was our two-goalie system, and if you look in the playoffs now, it looks like that is what everybody is using. I think the way the game is going with the speed of the game, the way everybody can shoot, how you can’t defend the way you used to defend, I think there is so much pressure on goalies now that they just do need a breather. It’s not a one-man show anymore.”

On if defenseman Esa Lindell, who played at the World Championship, might be on the Dallas roster in the fall

“When we made the decision to send him over there for the World Championship, we knew he was going to play lots, and it’s a great learning tool for a younger player. It’s his second World Championship, so it is a great compliment to him. He is going to play for Finland in the World Cup coming up here in September. He’s a good, young player. We have him projected to be on our team, and I think he is going to be. He’s a good, young player. He’s a heavy body and he’s part of the transition we kind of have coming into place on our backend. Stephen Johns, as everybody saw, came into the playoffs and played well for us. We’ve got [Julius] Honka down below. We have [Patrik] Nemeth and [Jamie] Oleksiak here, so we’ve got lots of good, young defensemen. Like I said, we’re bringing them in at the right time, and they’ve got to come in at their own pace. Esa is ready to play for us.”

On Valeri Nichushkin and if he still thinks Nichushkin will be the player the Stars expected

“We’re happy with Val. He missed all of last season (2014-15), and that’s tough for a young man. Missed the whole season with that hip surgery, came back this year and got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs he was starting to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners. He’s only 21, so I know there is still lots of room for growth. We are going to be patient with him, and we think he is a big part of our future.”

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 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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