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One of the few bright spots in the Ottawa Senator's 2013-2014 season, in which they missed the playoffs and ended the year 11th in the East, was the chemistry shown between Jason Spezza, and their trade deadline acquisition, Ales Hemsky to close out the campaign.
That chemistry remains in tact now, in a different color jersey. And that's not all that happened on day one of free agency. Jim Nill and his mustache of extreme power and charisma were busy entities this July 1st.
The day started promptly with our mustachioed messiah making the trade that brought Jason Spezza to Dallas in exchange for Alex Chiasson, prospect wingers Nick Paul, Alex Guptill and a second round pick in the deep 2015 draft. Additionally, left wing prospect Ludwig Karlsson comes with Spezza into the Dallas Stars fold. Karlsson spent most of his time last season in the AHL.
Side note, why didn't I know about Chiasson's "Texas Chiasson Massacre" nickname until now?
So, an hour before the free agency frenzy was to officially start, Dallas made the headlines. And Jim Nill wasn't finished, he apparently wanted to bring over Ottawa's entire first line with the addition of Ales Hemsky. With a contract of 3-years at a $4m AAV price-point, the Spezza/Hemsky connection is back and we can all hope that the chemistry the two showed in the final 20 or so games remains in tact.
The lack of a second line was a perilous gaping chasm on the roster and in a fell swoop one was almost completely constructed from thin air by Nill and company by combining a trade and a free agency acquisition. I imagine it was a lot like Phantasia. And those grand brush strokes across the canvas of the franchise are likely to overshadow the moves that would precede and follow, because the Stars staff would not stop there.
While defensemen are unlikely to be added to any real effective upgrade, the back-up goaltender vacancy after the failed Tim Thomas experiment, is also a glaring vacancy. Going into free agency it was unlikely that Jack Campbell was ready to take the #2 spot in the big club, and with Cristopher Nilstorp being let go, there is a lot of ice time for a prospect goaltender to soak up in Austin with the Texas Stars (AHL).
Enter Anders Lindback.
At 26 years old, the 6'6 behemoth covers a lot of the net and is extremely athletic. But with struggles in Tampa Bay, the question is can goalie coach Mike Valley do his magic and put the right systems in place for Lindback to succeed? The odds look good, considering the similarities between Lindback and Lehtonen.
This was a particularly important move considering the back-up woes the Stars seemed to have had for a long time now. With Lindback comes the hope that the team finally has someone they can rely on to give Kari and his groin the rest he needs without it being marked down as a likely loss on the schedule.
The final move of the day would be a depth addition in Patrick Eaves. You may remember Eaves in the crimson of the Red Wings organization. I think we can all assume that it is no accident that Jim Nill once helped run the front office while Eaves was there. Until last season, when he was moved to Nashville in the Legwand deal, that is.
Eaves is slotted in on the 4th line, though in my estimation, he will likely be sitting next to whoever the Stars have doomed to hold hands with Kevin Connauton again this season in the stands as a "just in case someone gets the flu" clause again this year.
So, what do we rate the moves today? An "A+" seems the easy answer, based on the Spezza/Hemsky additions. But perhaps there are flaws that our shiny new second line are blinding us to? Not many, but there are many people wondering where the supposed room for prospects is going to come from. Where are the young players who just won a Calder Cup going to fit in with the players under contract?
Jim Nill has to work under the assumption that Rich Peverley isn't going to play next year, it's the prudent thing to do, despite it being morally ambiguous. Even with that assumption and ignoring the rumor of an internal cap, unless Nill can move out a player like Erik Cole for a prospect/picks, then there may not be very much room on the roster. Especially if you consider Sceviour a lock for a spot on the roster next season and the fact that Nill himself has said that there is a 3rd/4th line spot still open that they would like to fill.
So is there going to be room for a prospect to win his spot on the NHL squad? That's for another article to come. For now, I think we will all resign to a blissful ignorance until more news comes as the free agency broth settles to a simmer and we all refresh Defending Big D and check our Dallas Stars twitter lists for news.