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Stars Continue to Reshape Defense, Acquire Jason Demers from Sharks for Brenden Dillon

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars made another move with their defense Friday, sending defenseman Brenden Dillon to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Jason Demers and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Demers, 26, gives Dallas a second right-shot on the blue line. The Stars, who started the season with all left-shots on the blue line, now have right-handed shots in Demers and John Klingberg.

“There’s been a lot of talk about our back end. We’ve got to get better and a lot of what we’ve been talking about is lefties and righties,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “It was an opportunity for both San Jose and us. We were looking for a righty, and they were looking for a lefty. We had to sit down and figure some things out, and we figured these two players were a good fit. Jason is a good young player. He’s only two years older than Brenden, so we are not losing anything on age. We are getting a right-shot. He’s a good puck mover. As we’ve seen with Klingberg, we’ve got to get our back end more mobile, moving pucks better. I think Jason is going to help us do that.”

The Sharks drafted Demers, who is listed at 6-1, 195 pounds, in the seventh-round (186th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft. He’s played 300 NHL games, registering 98 points (16 goals, 82 assists). He tallied a career-high 34 points (5 goals, 29 assists) last season. He has three assists in 20 games this season. He is in the first year of a two-year deal that pays him an average of $3.4 million per season. San Jose is retaining 35 percent of Demers salary for both seasons.

“It’s surprising. The words aren’t quite there yet. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Demers told San Jose media about the trade. “Probably when I fly out there in a little bit it will probably start to sink in. It’s different. It’s been five or six years since I have been here. It’s going to be a change.”

Demers is flying to Dallas Friday and is expected to be in the lineup when the Stars play Los Angeles Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

“I’m excited. New chapter, new beginnings I guess,” Demers said. “I talked to Jim [Nill] a little bit and I liked the feeling I got. I’ll talk to Lindy [Ruff, Stars coach] sometime today. It’s going to be a change and I am excited to see what happens.”

The trade for Demers is the latest in a series of moves to the Dallas defense. The Stars traded Sergei Gonchar to Montreal for forward Travis Moen earlier this month. They put defenseman Kevin Connauton on waivers earlier this week and he was claimed by Columbus.

“We’re always trying to get better and we think this is another move that makes us better,” Nill said. “We are starting to bring in these younger players – Klingberg, [Jyrki] Jokipakka, [Jamie] Oleksiak – and there are going to be some growing pains. But we can see that there is something exciting upside to these guys, too. You watch last night and what Klingberg did. That is where we are heading. That’s the direction we are heading. We’ve got two very good veterans in [Trevor] Daley and [Alex] Goligoski. Jason’s only 26, but he’s played 300 games. So we’ve added a veteran there. We’ve got three young kids with Klingberg, Oleksiak and Jokipakka and Jordie Benn as depth. We’ve added some good pieces. Now, they’ve just got to continue to grow their game.”

Dillon, signed as a free agent out of the Western Hockey League in 2011, played 149 games for Dallas, registering 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists).

“We just want to thank Brenden,” Nill said. “Brenden was a Dallas Star through and through. We thank him for his service. He was a great young man and he’s a great young player. Unfortunately, to get pieces you have to give up something up. And he was a player San Jose wanted really bad. It worked out for both teams.”

Spezza excited about four-year deal with Stars

Center Jason Spezza is going to be sticking around in Dallas for a while. Through the 2018-19 season to be exact. The Stars announced Friday that they signed Spezza to a four-year contract extension. It’s a deal worth $30 million for an average of $7.5 million per season.

“It’s an exciting day for myself and my family,” Spezza said. “We’ve been really happy with the team and the organization. It’s nice to commit to the team and look forward to the years to come.”

Jason Spezza is an eilite player in the game,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “He’s a point-a-game player. He’s been a captain. He’s been to the Stanley Cup Finals. He’s been an All-Star. He’s an elite player. These guys do not fall out of the sky. We are happy he is part of our organization. We’re excited that he likes what we are building here and believes in us. I think it is good for the whole organization.”

The Stars acquired Spezza in June along with forward Ludwig Karlsson in exchange for right wing Alex Chiasson, left wing Nick Paul, left wing Alex Guptill and a second-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. Spezza likes the direction the Stars are headed under Nill, and was ready to commit to the team’s future.

“First and foremost, I wanted to get here and get settled and get playing. But I felt all along it was a good fit for me,” Spezza said. “I liked the group. I liked the direction of the team. Jim Nill’s been extremely impressive since day one with his plan and his vision for the team. I’m happy to be part of it. I just want to add to it and help us get some wins.”

The 31-year-old Spezza currently ranks second on the Stars in scoring with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 20 games.

“He’s real good with the puck. I think that he adds an element in our lineup that I think as he settles in here, he’s going to get better and better,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I think I’ve seen that from game one to 10, 10 to 20 and I thought last night was probably his best game. You know he can make plays and he’s a big body. He’s got a good vision. Those are things that I think throughout his career have led to the numbers he’s had.”

Spezza, the second overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft, has registered 705 points (255 goals, 450 assists) in 706 career games. He is in the final year of a seven-year $49 million deal that he signed with Ottawa. He is making $4 million this season. The new deal with the Stars includes a no-trade clause.

“I have a family with three kids. It’s nice to have the no-trade,” Spezza said. “This is where I want to be. This is where I want to try to win. It’s nice knowing to get something like that. That was a very important part for me.”

The Stars acquired Spezza to beef up the center position and now they have that situation locked up long-term with Friday’s deal.

“I know going forward we are set down the middle,” Nill said. “When you build a team it is down the middle, your back end and goaltending. Down the middle, we’re set. Our depth down the middle is as good as anybody. With Kari Lehtonen in goal, we are good. As you can see, we are bringing some young kids in on the back end. It is starting to come together. There are things that have to be done, but you can see that pieces are falling into place the right way.”

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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