The offseason will be defined by the flashy purchases, but buying an insurance policy in goal could be just as important as the Dallas Stars try to climb back into contention in the Western Conference.
That’s why you can’t overlook the July 1 signing of free agent goalie Mike McKenna, who is the Stars’ version of insurance. You don’t realize how important a good policy is until you really need it.
Last season, the Stars would have been in a tough spot if either NHL goalie got hurt. While there was preseason hype around Maxime Lagace, the AHL-affiliated Texas Stars never had a goalie that you could trust to play in an NHL game -- although you could say the same thing about Antti Niemi.
This season, the Stars have the pieces in place for an emergency starter in case of an injury. And if Kari Lehtonen or Ben Bishop suffer something long-term, McKenna is the ideal fit to step in and serve as the NHL back-up.
McKenna, 34, is the prototypical “4A” goalie. He’s only played 22 career NHL games, but has 429 games of AHL experience, including a trip to the Calder Cup final last season with the Syracuse Crunch.
McKenna, who is also one of the overall good characters in the hockey world, will also be a good influence on whichever young goalie ends up in the AHL. In fact, he’s already offered to buy lunch for prospect Phillippe Desrosiers when training camp starts in September.
Looking forward to it...goalie union lunch is on me during camp!— Mike McKenna (@MikeMcKenna56) July 3, 2017
“You can research and look up his character, and it’s great, but the most important thing for me is stopping the puck,” Stars assistant general manager Scott White said. “That’s what I care the most about. He’s going to be our No. 3 (goalie in the organization) and we expect him to play like that.”
Overall it’s a good fit for the Stars. They have the insurance policy for the NHL club, improved their AHL team on the ice, and added a positive voice for their young prospects in the AHL locker room.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro