The Dallas Stars improbable playoff run continued on Monday, as Denis Gurianov’s overtime power-play goal put the final nail in the coffin of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final and advanced the Stars to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 20 years.
Dallas has been the beneficiary of some standout goaltending from veteran backup Anton Khudobin and core players Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, and Alexander Radulov rising to the occasion, but on top of getting solid contributions from youngsters developed within the organization (Gurianov, Heiskanen, Radek Faksa, Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz), an important part of the equation in their long playoff run has been the veteran additions made by GM Jim Nill last summer.
The Stars spent big bucks to sign free-agent center Joe Pavelski to a three-year deal, but also went bargain shopping and added winger Corey Perry and defenseman Andrej Sekera after they were bought out by Anaheim and Edmonton.
Perry and Sekera both signed one-year deals for $1.5 Million with bonuses, and have contributed in veteran depth roles. Clubs like the Toronto Maple Leafs could and should take a page from what the Stars and Tampa Bay did by adding veterans Patrick Maroon, Luke Schenn, and Zach Bogosian to provide experienced support for their core group.
Toronto clearly needs to address their long-standing need for a right-handed top-four blueliner, but with the salary cap staying flat at $81.5 Million, GM Kyle Dubas may have an opportunity to bring in another two or three veterans that can help as Jason Spezza did last season.
Instead of carrying limited contributors like Frederik Gauthier and Martin Marincin on the 23-man roster, there will be a number of free agents willing to take a short-term deal for a low salary like Perry, Sekera, Maroon, Schenn, and Bogosian did for a guaranteed job and chance to get some notice (like Tyler Ennis did two years ago).
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