It’s a terrible cliche, but actions really do speak louder than words.
And that’s what the Dallas Stars did during the offseason. After a horrendous showing that dropped them from the top of the Western Conference standings to the draft lottery, general manager Jim Nill lived up to his self-described mandate that this would be a quick re-load and Dallas would be back amongst the contenders during the 2017-18 season.
The Stars added Ben Bishop, Marc Methot, and Martin Hanzal before adding one of the biggest prizes in free agency and signed Alexander Radulov to a five-year, $31.25 million contract on Monday (with an average cap hit of $6.25 million).
Dallas got better defensively, fixed their problems in goal, got a bit tougher, and added the top-six scorer they needed to play alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
It’s a completed checklist by Nill, while it’s a testament that Stars owner Tom Gaglardi is willing to spend the money to field a winning franchise.
Radulov, who depending on who you ask had the exact same offer from the Montreal Canadiens, was well aware the Stars are embracing win-now mode.
“No doubt that was huge,” Radulov said. “You always want to play on the teams that have a chance to win. And I really saw that in Dallas. Yes they had couple last tough years in the past … but when you look (at the offseason) and when you see that the team really wants to build and win.”
Nill said he thinks Radulov makes Dallas one of the most talented teams in the NHL, and they should be one of the more entertaining teams next season -- similar to the 2015-16 team that initially put Stanley Cup thoughts back into the thoughts of Stars fans.
Radulov is a game-breaking playmaker. There are shifts where he looks like one of the best players in the world, and he can score highlight-reel goals somewhat commonly.
Are you kidding me?? Alex Radulov with an insanely beautiful goal: pic.twitter.com/jpaUtunXS7— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) April 17, 2017
Last season against Dallas, he turned the Stars defense inside out for one of the prettier goals at American Airlines Center.
Combine that with a more mature John Klingberg and Julius Honka, plus a healthy Mattias Janmark, the Stars all of sudden become a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches.
(The Stars should also be much better on the penalty kill, which is a huge step forward).
There are still a couple minor things left on Nill’s list for the summer, including signing restricted free agents Brett Ritchie and Radek Faksa, and there is some concern over the long-term nature of some contracts.
But in the short-term, the Stars are built to win now. And have quickly evolved into a contender in the past six weeks.
(And come to think of it, we didn’t even mention the NHL Entry Draft success or Ken Hitchcock in this story).
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.
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