July 1, 2014

Stars open free agency with trade for Jason Spezza

Dallas acquires the center in a five-player trade from Ottawa. The Stars also sign free agents Anders Lindback, Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves.

On the first day of free agency, Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill struck quickly, acquiring high-profile center Jason Spezza in a five-player trade from the Ottawa Senators and signing free-agent goalie Anders Lindback and right wings Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves.

Dallas also received right wing Ludwig Karlsson in the deal with Ottawa.

Dallas sent forward Alex Chiasson, left wing Alexander Guptill, left wing Nick Paul and a second-round draft pick to Ottawa.

Spezza, a right-handed center, netted 23 goals last season as part of his 66 points and held a -26 plus/minus rating. He also ranked 19th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 54 percent. He was the second overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

“I want to try to win a Stanley Cup,” Spezza said. “And I felt like a change of scenery could help me get there and to get to a team where I could play with some of the forward depth that I’m getting with [Jamie] Benn, [Tyler] Seguin and those guys.

“It was a decision I felt was tough, but it was a decision I think that I had to help myself and just move forward.”

The Toronto native will also be a key addition to the power play, scoring nine goals and racking up 13 assists on the power play last season.

“I think those two guys [Benn and Seguin] are phenomenal, phenomenal hockey players and to think about being on a power play with those guys and to play with them, hopefully we can create some depth where it makes it difficult for teams to have waves of guys kind of coming at you,” Spezza said. “It’s a great situation for me to be on a team with such talented guys, that’s for sure.”

Spezza said he also has a history playing under Stars head coach Lindy Ruff in world championship competition. He has played for Team Canada six times in international play.

Spezza requested a trade from Ottawa, where he was captain last season, saying he believed it was the best move for himself and the team. He went on to diffuse rumors that he wanted to leave Ottawa to escape the pressure of playing in a Canadian city.

“I’ve been there for 12 years and dealt with a lot of the pressure and I expect a lot of myself,” Spezza said. “Just because I’m going to a non-traditional hockey market, I’m still going to have a high demand on myself as a player.”

Spezza will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season.

“If it’s a fit for the team and it’s a fit for me, then we move forward with that,” he said. “But it’s not a focus at all.”

Ottawa gains Chiasson as the key piece of the trade. He had 35 points, 13 goals, with a -21 plus/minus for the Stars last season.

The 26-year-old Lindback tallied a 8-12-2 record with a .891 save percentage in 23 regular season games for the Tampa Bay Lightning last year.

He also made four appearances in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, recording a .881 save percentage and 3.92 goals-against average.

Lindback said he hopes to push Stars starting goalie Kari Lehtonen while serving as his backup next season.

“He’s an amazing, great goaltender,” Lindback said. “He’s always been a goaltender I’ve been looking at since I was younger. He’s very athletic. I’m just excited to be a part of it and try to learn as much as possible and try to do my best to prove myself and maybe give him a little competition.”

Between Ottawa and Edmonton, Hemsky netted 13 goals and 43 points last season. He played the last portion with Spezza in Ottawa.

Hemsky said a deal with Dallas has been in the works for a month. A little help from former Star Jaromir Jagr eventually pushed Hemsky toward Dallas.

“I talked to him actually when he was in Dallas,” Hemsky said. “I asked about Dallas, how it is and he said it’s a great organization. I should definitely go play there one day.”

Like Spezza, Hemsky said Dallas’ young top line of Benn and Seguin attracted him because of their chance at competing for a Stanley Cup.

“They showed it last year, even in the playoffs, they have a great team to compete for a Stanley Cup, so that was a big factor for me,” Hemsky said.

Eaves had five points in 30 regular season games with Detroit and Nashville last season.

Nill said the Stars are in a position to stand pat with their roster and see what else happens in the free-agent market. There is still one more hole to fill in a third- or fourth-line forward.

“We filled our void picking up Anders Lindback as our backup goalie,” Nill said. “We’re excited about him. Mike Valley, our goalie coach, he’s excited to work with him. He’s someone we’ve been watching for a few years. If you look at what we’ve added up front, we’ve had a good day.”

Camp returns to FW

Stars training camp will return to the Fort Worth Convention Center on Sept. 19-21, the club confirmed Tuesday.

More information will be released at a later date.

Dallas held training camp in Fort Worth for the first time last year with three days at the convention center.

The Stars made it to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Preseason play begins Sept. 22 at home against St. Louis at the American Airlines Center. The regular season begins Oct. 9 at home against Chicago.

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