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Stars bolster depth with Jason Williams

Jason Williams is excited to be back in the NHL. The Dallas Stars – banged up at the forward position – are happy to have NHL experience to help fill the void.

“I heard from my agent that they had been running into a few injuries here and there and that I could get a call,” Williams said after practicing with the Stars at American Airlines Center Saturday. “I was very fortunate and very happy when I did receive the call that they wanted to sign me. I am definitely looking forward to the chance.

The 30-year-old Williams, who had been playing with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL, signed a two-way deal ($500,000/$105,000) with the Stars for the remainder of the season.

Williams will help a team that has had its forward depth tested recently due to injuries to Jamie Benn, Adam Burish, Krys Barch and Toby Petersen. Tom Wandell, who had missed four games, just returned this week.

"He's a nice addition to our group. He gives us some depth and right now we desperately need that," said Stars coach Marc Crawford. "We're hopeful he's going to help us venture through here. I don't think there is anything but good that can happen from it right now. If he comes in and gives us a boost it's terrific. It's a very inexpensive way to move forward. He's hungry. At this time of the year you're always looking for guys that can add to your energy and he's got a hungry energy that I think can help us.”

Williams is a quick, versatile forward with good offensive skill. He signed a professional tryout contract with Connecticut in late December and played 17 games, picking up 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists). He played 44 games for Detroit last season and was slowed by a fractured fibula. He registered 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 44 games.

For his career –which has included stops in Detroit, Chicago, Columbus and Atlanta – he has 91 goals and 129 assists in 420 games. His best season came in 2005-06, when he scored 21 goals and added 37 assists for Detroit. He had a good run down the stretch with Columbus in 2008-09, scoring 12 goals and adding 17 assists in 39 games after being acquired in a trade.

"I am just going to come in and play my game,” Williams said. “I feel I can read the ice well, shoot the puck. I am going to finish my checks, do my thing and try not to do too much. I am not going to be scoring hat tricks every other game or anything like that, but I am going to chip in as much as I can offensively, work hard and show them what I can do."

Crawford said Williams is expected to play on the Stars’ depth lines, which is where the injuries have taken a big toll.

“He’ll give us NHL experience on the depth group and you can’t underestimate how important that is,” said Crawford. “We’ve been really pleased with the contributions of [Aaron] Gagnon, [Tomas] Vincor, [Francis] Wathier and some of the other guys that have come up, but when push comes to shove in these intense games you want guys that have been there before and not guys that you’re always having to constantly boost.”

Williams is a right shot, which the Stars like. He can play all three forward positions. He can be used on the power play and Crawford believes he can be used on the penalty kill as well.

“I know he’s a skilled guy, good speed and a pretty heads up player who sees plays develop,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “And depth is huge this time of year as banged as we are right now,”

Stars notes

*The Stars assigned left wing Francis Wathier to the Texas Stars (AHL) on Saturday.

*The Stars placed Krys Barch (fractured orbital bone) on injured reserve retroactive to February 3.

*F Toby Petersen practiced with the team again Saturday, but is not ready to return for Sunday’s game against Columbus.

Quotable

“They (Andrew Raycroft and Kari Lehtonen) know. They’ve seen me in practice. It was a fluke.”

-Stars captain Brenden Morrow on his shootout goal against Marty Turco in Friday night’s win over Chicago. It was Morrow’s first shootout attempt this season.