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Stars add speed, scoring with Bure acquisition

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

March 8, 2004

By J. Douglas Foster

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If the Stars wanted another potential front-line forward, they certainly found him late Monday night.

Just at the moment when the NHL allows roster expansion for the playoffs, the Stars expanded in a big way, acquiring veteran right wing Valeri Bure from Florida in return for Dallas' compensatory draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (awarded to Dallas for Derian Hatcher's free agent signing with Detroit last summer) and defenseman prospect Drew Bagnall -- the Stars' sixth round selection (195th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

For Stars fans wanting a splash, General Manager Doug Armstrong certainly gave it to them.

"We were looking for player with offensive skill, and the thing he brings to our team is dynamic speed," Armstrong said. "I never mind adding that to our group.

"He's a good player. His assets are his quickness, not only straight-line quickness but also the ability to dart in and out of holes. He likes to shoot the puck, so whoever he plays with will have good options. I think he's a good fit for what we are trying to accomplish."

Armstrong said the initial thought was to put Bure, who has 20 goals and 45 points this season with the Panthers, on the right wing with Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen.

"That's an option to give them some more scoring pop," Armstrong said. "We're getting very good play now out of (Jason) Arnott's group, so some secondary scoring punch would be great. I've talked to Val, and he's excited about potentially playing with one of our three centermen, either Modano, Arnott or Turgeon. That's something he looks forward to, and I think our team could use another offensive player with the way we are right now."

The big plus, as it was earlier in the day with the acquisition of defenseman Chris Therien, is that the Stars did not give up a roster player to acquire Bure. With a conditional pick and a prospect, the close-knit group which has helped lead the Stars become arguably the league's hottest team with a nine-game unbeaten streak stays in tact.

"We've tried to accomplish a few things here," Armstrong said. "One is that the players here, for the last eight to 12 weeks, have earned the right to stay together. We collectively dug ourselves a hole through the middle of December, but the players have gotten us out of that hole. We're fighting in areas now where we're competing for a Pacific Division crown, and our players have done a good job getting us back in that fight.

"These two acquisitions are just giving our group some depth so we can absorb whatever lies ahead."

Armstrong said Bure, who was in Toronto with the Panthers for a game Tuesday against the Maple Leafs, would fly to Dallas Tuesday morning for a physical. He will then return to Miami to pick up some personal belongings before joining the team in Philadelphia for Thursday's game against the Flyers.

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