As the Dallas Stars hit the ice this morning for their pre-game skate in Glendale, Arizona they were making some news off the ice as well. The Stars traded defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for left wing Travis Moen.
The 32-year-old Moen is a physical player who will bring some grit to the Stars’ lineup. He has played 690 games in his NHL career with Chicago, Anaheim, San Jose and Montreal, registering 125 points (56 goals, 69 assists). He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.
“Travis Moen is a big, strong power forward,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “He is going to bring a presence on the ice for us. He’s a great character guy, and he’s been around the league a long time.
“He’s a player that has always been high on my list. I love his character. I love what he brings on and off the ice. His penalty killing is a big part. … That’s something we need to improve on in our game. But it’s the overall game. He plays the game the right way. He’s going to bring a little bit of bite to our lineup. I think he is going to be a good fit for us.”
There’s a chance Moen could be ready to play for the Stars in Los Angeles on Thursday. The veteran forward said he wasn’t surprised by the trade since Montreal is deep at forward.
“It was going to happen, and it’s a good time to happen early in the year,” Moen said. “I am happy to be going to a great team in Dallas. I am going to miss Montreal, I have a lot of good friends and teammates there, but I am happy for the fresh start.”
Moen has the rest of this season and next season left on a contract that pays him $1.85 million per year. He said he can fit in anywhere and knowing a few players on the Stars should help the transition with Dallas. Moen played with Erik Cole in Montreal and Vernon Fiddler in junior hockey. He knows Jamie Benn since both are former Kelowna Rockets.
“I am pretty easy going. I can fit into most systems,” Moen said. “You tell me what to do and I usually do it. Hopefully, I can fit in really well there. I know a few guys there in Dallas, so hopefully it’s a great transition.”
Gonchar was in his second season with the Stars after being acquired from Ottawa. He had 23 points (2 goals, 21 assists) in 79 games for Dallas. He struggled last season and missed the first 11 games of this season with a fractured ankle.
“Sergei and I talked, things just weren’t fitting in for him here. He wanted an opportunity somewhere if it was available,” Nill said. “In the end, we had some young defensemen we want to start getting ice time. It was time to start bringing the young defensemen in. It’s an opportunity for some of the younger defensemen to start growing into their positions. That’s why [John] Klingberg is up here.”
The Stars recalled Klingberg from the Texas Stars of the AHL on Sunday, and this is a big opportunity for the 22-year-old Swede. But Nill said Tuesday’s trade of Gonchar is an opportunity for all the Stars’ young defensemen – both those in Dallas and those in the AHL.
“We’re in the mode that we have to win, and it is whoever is playing well. If Klingberg plays well he is here and if he doesn’t we have other young guys in the minors to come up,” Nill said. “It’s an opportunity for all those young guys – Klingberg, [Kevin] Connauton, [Jamie] Oleksiak, [Jyrki] Jokipakka, [Julius] Honka, [Cameron] Gaunce. It’s an opportunity to grab something.”
Quotable: Lindy Ruff on Sergei Gonchar
“Sergei was first-class. He gave me a lot of help, even last year, with Val [Nichushkin]. The reason he is in this league is because of the way he has handled himself. It didn’t work out. It didn’t work out for both sides. I wish him nothing but the best. He is a terrific person. For me, inside our system it didn’t work out. I hope he goes to Montreal and plays well. They have a good team. They’ve been one of the best in the East. He’s going to get a heck of an opportunity there.”
Klingberg in tonight vs. Coyotes
Defenseman John Klingberg, called up Sunday from the AHL, will make his NHL debut tonight when the Stars take on the Arizona Coyotes. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he expects to pair Klingberg with Alex Goligoski to start the game.
Kevin Connauton is expected to be the scratch on defense.
Cody Eakin will miss his third straight game with an upper body injury but could be ready to go Thursday in Los Angeles.
Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal.
Who: Dallas Stars at Arizona Coyotes
Where: Gila River Arena
When: 8:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzie - Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Brenden Dillon – Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: D Kevin Connauton, LW Travis Moen
Injured: C Cody Eakin (upper body), RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin), D Patrik Nemeth (arm)
Coyotes projected lineup
Tobias Reider-- Antoine Vermette -- Shane Doan
Brandon McMillan –Martin Hanzal – Martin Erat
Lauri Korpikoski – Sam Gagner – Mikkel Boedker
Kyle Chipchura – Joe Vitale – B.J. Crombeen
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Zybnek Michalek
Keith Yandle – Connor Murphy
Brandon Gormley – Michael Stone
Scratched: Rob Klinkhammer, David Schlemko, Chris Summers
Injured: David Moss (upper body)
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.