After acquiring Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from Boston on Thursday, Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill wouldn’t rule out another move to shore up the center position. Nill made that move Friday, completing a trade for center Shawn Horcoff.
The Stars sent defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to the Edmonton Oilers for Horcoff, a 12-year NHL veteran.
“One thing when I came here is that I wanted to add experience, and Shawn Horcoff has experience,” said Nill. “I have had Shawn Horcoff at the World Championships, I’ve won two gold medals with him, he’s a character player and he’s strong in the dressing room. He does all the right things.”
Horcoff, listed at 6-1, 208 pounds, brings solid two-way play and versatility to the Stars’ lineup. The former captain of the Oilers brings leadership as well.
“He’s a good, veteran centerman, he has a little bit of versatility where he can play center or wing,” said Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff. “I think he’s going to be great for the youth we have. We’re looking for leadership, we’re looking for a guy that can play in a lot of situations and a guy that can help a lot of these young guys grow.”
The trade came as no surprise to Horcoff, who said he has known the Oilers probably were going to move him since the end of the season. But moving on from the Oilers was still tough since he has played his entire career with Edmonton, the team that drafted him in the fourth round (99th overall) in 1998.
“Today was different,” Horcoff said. “At the end of the year it took me a couple of weeks to digest it all. I’ve never played for another team. Thirteen years in one organization is a lifetime in this sport. This is all new to me. It took a little bit of an adjustment time. I thought I prepared for it and everything was fine, but yesterday after we agreed to it and it went through, it was definitely a little different.”
Horcoff registered 447 points (162 goals, 285 assists) in 796 career games with the Oilers, who named him the franchise’s 13th captain at the start of the 2010-11 season. He ranks ninth in franchise history in goals and eleventh in assists.
The last couple seasons have been up and down ones for Horcoff. In 2012-13 he registered 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) in 31 games. He said now is a good time for a fresh start.
“As much fun as I had in Edmonton, I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life,” he said. “The last season or two haven’t gone the way I’d like to and I am really looking forward to a new opportunity to prove that I can still play at a high level.”
That motivation to prove he can still play is one reason Horcoff and others may have shown up on Nill’s radar this offseason.
“I didn’t have direct contact with Jim through the process, but through my agent it was quite clear that was the type of person they were looking for,“ Horcoff said. “My agent knew exactly what I was looking to do next year. I’m focused on putting in a real good summer of training and motivated to come back and play some real good hockey next year. Hearing that Jim was looking for that kind of player, I think I fit the bill.”
The addition of Horcoff gives the Stars another center, strengthening a position that was considered a weakness a few days ago.
“We’ve added three guys to that position over the last two days and that’s important for our organization,” said Nill. “Tyler Seguin is a great young talent. Rich Peverley is a good player who plays all positions, very well-rounded player. Shawn Horcoff is going to bring some great veteran presence. When I came on, one thing I mentioned was we needed to add some veteran presence to this dressing room and on the ice. Shawn is going to add that.”
The Stars made another addition on Friday, dipping into the free agent market to sign goaltender Dan Ellis to backup Kari Lehtonen.
The 33-year-old Ellis played with Carolina last season, putting together a 6-8-2 mark, 3.13 goals against average a .908 save percentage.
Ellis, who was originally drafted by the Stars in the second round (60th overall) of the 2000 NHL draft, has played 184 games, posting a 78-65-17 record, 2.73 goals against average and .908 save percentage while suiting up for Dallas, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Carolina.
“We have a great No. 1 goalie in Kari Lehtonen, and we’ve made all these changes, and we want to make sure we are covered in case of injuries,” said Nill. “We wanted to add a real solid veteran as our backup and you can never have enough depth in net. I’ve been on teams where we’ve had two or three goalies hurt, and if you get too far down the food chain it can cost you. To make the playoffs these days, one or two wins can make the difference and I didn’t’ want a goalie injury to cost this team a chance to make the playoffs. So, we’ve added Dan Ellis and we also have Cristopher Nilstorp and Jack Campbell on our depth chart.
“We’ve added lots of depth to our team that way. Right from day one, the whole idea was to add lots of depth. We know there are going to be injuries because it’s a long season. We think we’ve accomplished that.”