The Dallas Stars have charted a bright new path with the hiring of Jim Nill as their next general manager. He comes to Dallas from the Detroit Red Wings where he oversaw the Red Wings' player development machine.
Nill the right fit in Big D
Nill, a veteran of ten NHL seasons, has been working in player development in the NHL since 1991 when he started as an amateur scout for the Ottawa Senators. He joined the Red Wings in 1994. He directed NHL scouting for the Wings, directed the draft, and oversaw the development of their prospects in the AHL, Junior, and European leagues. The Red Wings have made 22 consecutive appearances in the playoffs, and to call Nill a key component of the team's success would be an understatement.
During Nill's time in Detroit the Red Wings drafted the following: Tomas Holmstrom, Mathieu Dandenault, Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Fischer, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Kopecky, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Fleischmann, Valtteri Filppula, Derek Meech, Jimmy Howard, Kyle Quincey, Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, and Shawn Matthias. Young players Jan Mursak, Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Thomas McCollum, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco, and Martin Frk remain in the system. You may not recognize all of these names, but they're all significant. That collection of talent is staggering.
The Red Wings have had an unmatched level of success with international players. They have been very successful at identifying younger international players and allowing them as much time as they need at home to develop as players and humans. If he is able to duplicate any of that success in Dallas the Stars will be very well off.
The most significant aspect of the Red Wings system that often goes overlooked is how they develop their prospects. The Wings let them marinate for a long time, then cook them low and slow until they're perfectly ready for NHL action. It doesn't always work, but the results speak for themselves.
The system is fairly simple. The Wings have a defined style of play. When they bring kids into their professional development system they get to work on becoming a Red Wing. When they are eventually brought up to the NHL they know what kind of game they are expected to play and have no questions about what they need to do to be successful NHL players. The transition period for the young players is mostly taken care of in the minor leagues, rather than at the NHL level where rookie mistakes can make a large impact on the standings.
That recipe may mean the Stars will need to excercise patience before the team fully blooms. But it appears the Dallas management group is prepared to stand behind Nill for the long haul.
"I am honored and very excited at this opportunity to be the Dallas Stars General Manager and I want to thank Tom Gaglardi and Jim Lites for believing that I am the right person for this job," said Nill. "There have been a few other openings out there that have been presented to me in the past, but I was waiting for the right one to take, and coming to Dallas was that right one. I am eager to get started building on the pieces that already exist and helping return this team to the playoffs."
The Wings have an identity from the ground up. Nill has played a large part in fostering that identity - something the Stars have needed for several years. Establishing an identity for the Stars will be one of Nill's early priorities He has a successful track record as an NHL executive with the most successful franchise in the NHL over the past 20 years. His experiences will be invaluable to a team desperately in need of valuable positive experience.
Josh Lile cares more about the Stars than pretty much anyone who isn't paid by the team. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshL1220.
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