The Dallas Stars announced Thursday that forward Mattias Janmark is under contract for next season. Janmark, who was a pending restricted free agent, signed a one-year extension worth $700,000.
Janmark missed all of this season after undergoing surgery to fix a congenital joint issue in his knee. He was a big part of the 2015-16 team, registering 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) and a plus-12 rating in 73 games as a rookie. And the Stars missed him this season.
"I think on the outside, people don't understand who he is, but he was a big part of our team [in 2015-16]," Stars GM Jim Nill said. "He's a smart player who plays in all situations. He has great speed, and I think we missed his speed. You take out his speed, [Ales] Hemsky's speed and [Patrick] Sharp missed time, those are some pretty fast players. But losing Matty for the year was a major loss to the team."
There have been questions about Janmark's status going forward because the knee injury is unfamiliar territory for a hockey player. That Janmark's new contract is for just one year is a sign that questions remain. The condition is called osteochondritis dissecans. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's an issue "in which bone underneath the cartilage of a joint dies due to lack of blood flow. This bone and cartilage can then break loose, causing pain and possibly hinder joint motion."
At the time of the surgery, in which doctors reattached the bone with screws, the Stars said there was an 80 percent chance of a full recovery for Janmark. But the 24-year-old was close to playing at the end of this past season, and Nill is optimistic about Janmark's return next season.
"There's a very good chance," Nill said. "The procedure has gone as well as it could, and we like where he is. He was pushing to play some games in late March but the medical team, the doctors, just thought that the healing time was more important from now until training camp to really make sure that the bone is starting to grow back."
Janmark underwent a second procedure earlier this month in which screws used to reattach the bone were removed. Nill said that surgery was successful.
"Over the next two months he is slowly going to get back at it again," Nill said. "He's going to come back here in late June or early July and start skating. From there, the plan is to get cleared to really start pushing it for training camp."
Janmark, who talked to the media the day before the second procedure, said getting the screws out of his knee was the final step as he tries to work his way back to playing.
"I've never been out more than maybe two weeks, so it's tough and you don't know what it is going to be like," Janmark said. "Now I am more comfortable with it, and there are things I need to do to get back. I think if I do a good job and work hard, eventually I will be back."
This story was not subject to 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.