Stars owner: We have ‘best tandem in the league’

Patrick Sharp and Kari Lehtonen are now teammates — and two integral pieces of the Stars' upcoming season. (LM Otero/AP)

Improve in net: Check.

Upgrade on the blue line: Check.

Add experience up front: Check.

When you look at the Dallas Stars’ off-season acquisitions, it’s clear they had a plan — and they stuck to it, signing free agents Antti Niemi and Johnny Oduya and landing Patrick Sharp in a trade.

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi spoke with, sharing some insight into the the team’s strategies behind each move, praising general manager Jim Nill, and talking about his expectations for the upcoming 2015-16 season.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On the Stars’ goalie tandem of Kari Lehtonen and off-season acquisition Antti Niemi:
We knew we had to get deeper in goal, the 1A/1B thing, and that’s why we went after Niemi. He was at the top of our list along with another guy. We got our first choice.

[Niemi] is a Finn, and he and Kari know each other. I think they are going to work well together … I think we’re in very good shape … I think we have the best tandem in the league now.

On signing free agent defenceman Johnny Oduya:
We certainly discussed all the guys available in free agency with an eye on which guys were going to make us better. There weren’t many available to be honest. Oduya was a guy we had circled as a good fit for us. We weren’t sure whether Chicago was going to let him go, so it was just about being patient. While it is hard to part with a guy like Trevor Daley, that’s what it took to get [the Patrick Sharp] trade done and to get a young player our guys touted in [defenceman] Stephen Johns. That cost us Trevor Daley. But at that point we knew we could get Oduya to cover for Trevor Daley, so that was the decision we made as a hockey club.

On Jim Nill’s overall performance:
I think our goaltending is going to be better and our defence will be better, and we did all that without giving up much at all. No low draft picks, we didn’t give up any prospects that we coveted. I think you have to give Jim Nill pretty high marks for having a plan, sticking with the plan, staying patient and waiting for the right time … Jim read the market properly and was able to take advantage of Chicago being in the position they were with not being able to keep all their team together. I am pleased about that.

On acquiring Patrick Sharp:
You are bringing in two guys in Sharp and Oduya who have won. Patrick Sharp, everything that I’ve heard about him from players who have played with him, he is an exceptional character guy. He is going to be so good. What I am excited about is for Jamie [Benn] and Tyler [Seguin] to have a guy like that to learn from … There’s a calming presence. As good as Jamie and Tyler are they’ve never been through it the same way Sharp has.

I think the plan is for him to start on their line, and I think it is just a great fit having that know-how so high in your lineup.


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