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Stars accomplish what they wanted at deadline

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

March 9, 2004

By J. Douglas Foster

Stars general manager Doug Armstrong feels very good about how his office handled this year's NHL trading deadline.

As well he should.

The Stars seemed to accomplish exactly what they wanted before the deadline expired, adding quality depth players without disrupting the chemistry of a team that is among the hottest in the NHL. Plus, they made their three pickups without giving up high draft picks or any of their premier young prospects.

What more could one ask?

"We have to do what we can to make sure we are competitive with the top teams year in and year out," Armstrong said just moments after the trade deadline expired. "To do that we have to keep some of our future, and that's what we did. We kept our first pick and we kept Columbus' pick, so we'll go into the draft and our scouts will be excited that we can add to the good group of prospects we believe we have.

"That being said, we're a very good team right now."

That they are, which is the beauty of the Stars' approach to the trading deadline. They didn't alter team chemistry, which is obviously a concern, and they didn't take a player away from a roster that has lost just six times in its last 35 games.

What they did do, they feel, is add parts to the roster, parts that can complement the talent that has sparked this extended run.

After all, Armstrong said, the ones who have gotten the team this far deserve the chance to carry the organization as far as it can go.

"We were comfortable, Dave (Tippett) and I, with the direction the team is going," Armstrong said. "They have come together during the last 12 weeks, and we thought they deserved to stay together and move forward.

"We felt like we had a good group. We've done our work at different times in the season, and I didn't feel the necessity to overhaul the team. Our team is a good team, but we added some depth pieces in scoring and defense. I believe this group here earned the right to take us as far as we can go, and I think the sky is the limit."

This isn't to say the Stars did nothing at the trade deadline. In fact, quite the contrary as they started by acquiring defenseman Chris Therien, then later added right wing Valeri Bure, using just draft picks to get both.

Then, on Tuesday, they signed free agent defenseman Lubomir Sekeras, which gives the Stars eight defenseman on the squad because of John Erskine's sports hernia surgery, which is scheduled for Wednesday and will keep him out the remainder of the season.

Sekeras, 35, has been playing with Sodertalje SK of the Swedish Elite League this season, where he posted 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) and 30 penalty minutes in 33 games played. The 6-foot, 183-pound defenseman played the previous three seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild.

Depth, Armstrong said, is the name of this move.

"Now we have eight experienced defensemen," he said. "It's necessary to have eight experienced players and we've done that."

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