Austin Waldron, one of the lead writers for Blackout Dallas (the Dallas Stars blog for fansided.com) was kind enough to take some time out to discuss some good ol’ NHL hockey. And since the NHL Free Agency craze has ended and writers are entrenched in the middle of a long offseason, it’s tough finding different things to write about.
Admiring the game from a distance since the age of 8, Austin has been a dedicated Stars fan since ’96-97. Formerly of the “Havoc Fanatics,”a die-hard group of Stars fans who sit in the upper bowl and cheer, chant, yell and have fun at every Stars game, Austin made his way to Fansided and hasn’t looked back.
Join me after the jump as we discuss what Brad Richards means to the Rangers, how Dallas plans on filling is void of production in their lineup, and much more!
James: As a Dallas Stars blogger, give me your thoughts on the Brad Richards deal for New York? Do you feel it’s a good deal?
Austin: Adding Richards is great for the Rangers right now. From the outside looking in, I like the Rangers how they are built right now and with the addition of Richards, I think it can make them a real contender in the East. My only concern with the signing might be the length. The cap hit of $6.67 million looks great to me, until the last 3-4 seasons. But it also looks like the Rangers are either expecting him to retire a year or two early, or they might buyout the contract similar to what happened with Drury this summer.
James: You’ve watched Richards play for Dallas since the 07-08 season. We already know he’s a great play-making center and quality power-play performer, are there any other traits Richards possesses that are lesser known to everyone?
Austin: Amazing playmaker. His play for the majority of the last two seasons was ridiculous at times. Some of the passes he makes and plays he can help create will still surprise you. But he also is not a total slouch in the defensive zone. He is smart on the ice and will use his stick effectively at times even when his team does not possess the puck. Just don’t expect him to own the faceoff circle.
James: Despite the ownership situation in Dallas still being tenuous, GM Joe Nieuwendyk was still active in improving the club, bringing in Radek Dvorak, Michael Ryder, and Sheldon Souray among others. Are you happy with these moves? Do you feel they’re enough?
Austin: Enough to replace Richards, no. The Stars probably won’t be able to do that until new ownership is solidified. But, I am pleased with the additions of Ryder, Souray, and Vernon Fiddler.
Ryder can be a 20-30 goal guy and plays the right wing, which is a weak spot for the Stars at the NHL level, while also coming at a decent rate. Souray was once a pretty effective D-man with a cannon blast from the point, and really the issue has been the last two years in Edmonton. It is a gamble that could result in a solid 2nd line blueliner or just a one-year deal that is over after that and really doesn’t hurt the team.
Fiddler brings in a solid two-way game that can lead a 3rd or 4th line, play the PK effectively, and he is a good faceoff guy. Pardy, Dvorak, and Godard are spare parts and will probably play on the 4th line or fight for time.
The best thing GM Joe did was keep almost everything to short-term (one or two year) deals, so if they need to re-work the team or any of these guys don’t work out, they are gone easily.
James: With Brad Richards’ departure, it leaves a gaping hole in the Stars’ offensive production. Who do you feel steps up in his absence?
Austin: The departure of B-Rad does leave a lot of production to be made up for. Mike Ribeiro is the obvious choice. He makes $5 million a year, is a playmaker as well, and while having some good seasons here in Dallas, he has never fully been a top-line center in my eyes. But also the team will look for production from blossoming young forward Jamie Benn.
Benn has shown up and blown up in the last two seasons for Dallas. Both seasons he has been a target in trade talks with other teams, but the Stars have wisely held onto him. While Ribeiro will continue to be lined up with captain Brenden Morrow, the Stars other offensive line will probably see Richards former linemate Loui Eriksson play with Benn. The big question mark will be who completes that line.
It goes without saying, thanks to Austin Waldron and Blackout Dallas for their time and keen insight on everything discussed.
- Nice to hear along with his offensive prowess, Richards can play in his own end, something Torts will be heavily relying on. Just a shame Richards isn’t a wizard with face-offs as the Rangers need help in that regard.
- Sounds like Dallas will have a problem replacing Richards’ offensive production. The players they brought in are adequate players, but since their ownership issues aren’t solved, they can’t spend money on the players they want. Watch for them to take a step back next season.
- I like the Ryder signing for them. He’s a proven goal scorer and maybe a change of scenery will benefit his career.
- I’m glad the Stars feel Sheldon Souray can be productive because the other 29 NHL teams didn’t feel the same as them.