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Stars re-sign two as free agency opens

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

As expected, the Dallas Stars were pretty quiet on day one of free agency. The Stars did announced the re-signing of forwards Patrick Eaves and Curtis McKenzie, but there were no additional moves.

Reaching a deal with Eaves, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, helped set the tone for the Stars’ day.

“A lot of it depended on what Patrick Eaves was going to do, and in the end Patrick was looking forward to coming back,” Nill said. “Curtis McKenzie was something we were working on. Once we got those guys signed, that was pretty well where we were going unless something happened that we didn’t know about. In the end, free agency was a pretty quiet day.”

Nill said he kicked the tires on some things, but there were no deals in the free agent market that worked for the Stars.

“The money and the term just isn’t a fit for us,” he said.

Nill doesn’t anticipate any free agent signings except one or two to add some depth at the minor league level. If he does decide to make a move on the NHL roster, it most likely will come via trade and it appears he’s not in a rush on that front.

“I’ve talked to all the teams. I know what they are trying to do, and they know what we are trying to do. We’ll all keep in touch,” Nill said. “We are going to see where free agency ends up and once that settles in I think teams will sit back and analyze what is going on. If there is a fit for us, we’ll talk.”

Nill already addressed what he felt was the team’s biggest need with the acquisition and signing of goaltender Antti Niemi, who is expected to share the net with Kari Lehtonen next season.

“I would be [happy with the current roster],” Nill said. “The big thing was getting Antti Niemi. We think we’ve got as good a one-two punch as anybody in the league right now.”

Bringing Eaves back was also on Nill’s agenda. The 31-year-old Eaves re-signed for one year. He played in 47 games last season, registering 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists).

“Very versatile. You can move him up and down the lineup,” said Nill. “He can play the power play, he can kill penalties. You can put him up on the big line, he can play on the fourth line. He’s just a very responsible player. He does all the little things right. It was important to get him signed.”

The 24-year-old McKenzie made his NHL debut last season, registering five points (four goals, one assist) in 36 games. He signed a two-year contract that is a two-way deal the first year and one-way the second.

“We see him as a big part of our future,” Nill said. “As a young guy he just needs to keep developing. He got his feet wet last year, and I think it was great for him. He just needs to continue on the path he is going.”

Notes

Here are some notes on Dallas’ unrestricted free agents,

*Forward Shawn Horcoff signed a one-year contract with Anaheim.

*Goaltender Jhonas Enroth signed a one-year contract with Los Angeles.

*Defenseman Cameron Gaunce, who played with the Texas Stars last season, signed a one-year, two-way deal with Florida.

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 DallasStars.com 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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