The Dallas Stars staged an impressive rally to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, Tuesday night at American Airlines Center. But just as the teams hit the ice for warm-ups, the Stars announced another trade. Defenseman Johnny Oduya was on his way back to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018.
"Johnny's an [unrestricted free agent], and with the situation of our team I think it's important for us to get the most assets we can," Stars GM Jim Nill said. "Johnny's been a great warrior for us the year-and-a-half he's been here. It gives him an opportunity to go to Chicago. They're in the playoffs, and for us, it gave us some assets for down the road."
With the Stars, who are seven points out of a playoff spot with 19 games remaining, Nill has made three trades in five days as the Stars begin the process of looking towards the future. Forward Patrick Eaves was traded to Anaheim Friday for a conditional second-round pick in 2017, and defenseman Jordie Benn was traded to Montreal for defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick in 2017. On Tuesday he moved Oduya for a minor league player and a pick.
The Blackhawks were one of a number of teams calling about Oduya, who will now return to Chicago, where he won two Stanley Cups.
"They're comfortable with Johnny," Nill said. "They had him, won a Cup with him, they know what he brings, so they're a team that was always talking to us."
The 24-year-old McNeill, a first-round pick (18th overall) in 2011, is in his fourth full professional season. He's recorded 157 points (72 goals, 85 assists) in 273 AHL games. He played one NHL game with Chicago in 2015-16, registering no points.
"He's a young kid. Sometimes a change of scenery's good for somebody," Nill said. "It's a great opportunity for him. He'll add some depth to us, and we'll see where it goes."
McNeill will head to the Texas Stars of the AHL.
As for the draft pick in 2018, the Stars explained the conditions in a release on the trade: "If Chicago should advance to third round of the playoffs this season, and Oduya plays in 50% or more in first two rounds, then the selection turns into Chicago's third-round pick in 2018."
Also, the Stars retain 50 percent of Oduya's salary.
Oduya was the second Dallas defensemen traded in the past two days - Jordie Benn was traded Monday - leaving the Stars with a young defense for the rest of the season, at least the way things stand now. Nill said it is an opportunity for those players to show what they can do as the Stars look to reshape the teams defense moving forward.
"Exactly," Nill said. "We got 20-something games to go here, and they're going to be playing every night now, and it's a great opportunity for them. It's a great chance to earn some experience. We have to make decisions for next year, and this will go into deciding a lot of those decisions."
Stars rally past Penguins
The Dallas Stars rallied for a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh Tuesday at American Airlines Center. The Stars trailed 2-0 after two periods, but Brett Ritchie, Jason Spezza, and Antoine Roussel scored in the third period.
"It was good. I thought we played hard," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "A little bit of execution problem in the first two periods, but we stayed with it, got some pucks to the net, got rewarded for going there. I thought at the end of the night we played a good game."
John Klingberg chipped in two assists, and Antti Niemi stopped 18 of 20 shots for the Stars, who won for just the second time this season when trailing after two periods (2-21-2) and handed the Penguins their first loss when leading after two (26-1-0).
"We haven't had that feeling enough this year," said Ritchie. "To take down a team like that, down two going into the third, it doesn't happen a lot. I don't know how many times it's happened this year to those guys, but it's probably not very often. That was a lot of fun for sure. It's a lot more fun, and we needed that."
Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel scored for the Penguins, who lost in regulation for just the second time in the past 13 games (8-2-3).
"We just got outplayed [in the third period]," said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. "We just got outplayed. We got to hang onto pucks, we got to play behind them. I don't think we managed the puck very well. I don't think we won enough puck battles and as a result, we let them come at us."
*The Stars outshot the Penguins 32-20. Pittsburgh had a 60-57 advantage in attempted shots.
*Brett Ritchie led the Stars with five shots on goal and nine shot attempts.
*Stars defenseman John Klingberg has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past three games.
*The Stars were 0-1 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 30 of 64 faceoffs (47 percent). Cody Eakin won 12 of 20 faceoffs (60 percent).
*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 25:18 of ice time.
The Stars close out their homestand Thursday when they take on the New York Islanders. This will be the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Islanders won the first meeting, 3-0, in Brooklyn on Jan. 19.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Lauri Korpikoski - Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jamie Oleksiak
Patrik Nemeth - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Remi Elie, Greg Pateryn
Injured: Ales Hemsky (hip), Adam Cracknell (lower body), Mattias Janmark (knee)
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.