Dallas Stars: Steve Yzerman

NHL GM of the Year finalists

April, 20, 2011
The league announced the finalists NHL General Manager of the Year Award today and they are: Mike Gillis (Vancouver), David Poile (Nashville) and Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay).

Here's the release from the NHL:
Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks, David Poile of the Nashville Predators and Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning are the three finalists for the 2010-11 NHL General Manager of the Year Award, the National Hockey League announced today.

Voting for this award was conducted among the 30 Club General Managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2011 NHL Awards from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas. The 2011 NHL Awards will be broadcast by VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists, in alphabetical order, for NHL General Manager of the Year:

Mike Gillis, Vancouver Canucks

Gillis built the Canucks into the NHL's top team in the 2010-11 regular season as they captured the Presidents' Trophy with a franchise-record 117 points (54-19-9) and claimed the Northwest Division title for the third time in his three years in Vancouver. He strengthened the Canucks defensively over the off-season by adding blueliners Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis and shutdown center Manny Malhotra. Such was Vancouver's organizational depth that the club allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (185) despite suffering a rash of injuries throughout the season that sidelined each of their top five defensemen. Gillis further bolstered team depth at the trade deadline with the acquisition of forwards Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre.

David Poile, Nashville Predators

Under Poile's direction the Predators (44-27-11) brought the Stanley Cup Playoffs to Music City for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, finishing fifth in the West after the most competitive Conference race in League history. Yet again, more than half of the lineup was drafted and developed by the organization, including the top four scoring defensemen, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Cody Franson and Kevin Klein. Goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback were selected with the 258th and 207th overall selections in their respective draft years. To this nucleus Poile added their leading scorer in 2010-11, Sergei Kostitsyn, in a trade last June and two-way center Mike Fisher at the trade deadline.

Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Yzerman was hired as Lightning general manager last May and presided over a club that made a 23-point improvement over 2009-10, posted the second-best record in franchise history (46-25-11) and earned a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. Among the rookie NHL GM's notable moves were hiring head coach Guy Boucher three weeks into his tenure and adding key veterans to his lineup at different stages. Defenseman Pavel Kubina was signed at the start of the free agency period last July, followed later in the month by forward Simon Gagne; goaltender Dwayne Roloson arrived via trade midway through the season and defenseman Eric Brewer was obtained at the trade deadline.

Tom Wandell's versatility a plus for Stars

March, 15, 2011
FRISCO -- Tom Wandell has had some ups and downs this season, but he’s been on a nice run for the Stars lately thanks to shaking off some injuries, more ice time and paying attention to some friendly advice.

“I feel a little bit more comfortable out there for sure,” Wandell said about his recent play following Monday’s practice in Frisco.

Getting to that comfort level has taken some time for the 24-year-old, who is in his second NHL season. He came into training camp after a summer of rehabbing an ACL injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the last half of last season. On the second day of training camp in Prince Edward Island he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out the entire preseason. Then in January there was another shoulder injury that kept him out a couple weeks.

Now, Wandell seems to be hitting his stride and has been a key contributor during the Stars’ recent run. He said getting over the injuries was one part of the equation.

“I’m getting more ice time and more opportunity,” Wandell said. “I am the kind of guy that wants the puck a lot, I’m getting the puck more and I feel a lot better out there.”

Among the opportunities recently has been some time on the Stars’ top line with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson.

“Two of the best of the best players in the league,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for me.”

Stars coach Marc Crawford said Wandell’s versatility; his ability to move up and down the lineup is something the Stars can take advantage of with the Swedish forward’s recent play.

“I’ve liked the play of Tom Wandell. He’s show some versatility to play up the wing with Richards and Eriksson. We’ve called upon that and he’s shown some offensive flair in that department,” Crawford said. “I like it when we can play a speed line of [Toby] Petersen, [Jason] Williams and him. That gives us a pretty good option. He’s showed he’s well versed if we put him on a line with [Steve] Ott and [Tomas] Vincour or [Jamie] Langenbrunner. His ability to play both wings, his ability to check and to create some offense has enhanced lately and shown itself to better.

“I think the best part of his game is he has been stronger with the puck, he’s been a little more protective of the puck and consequently he’s been able to skate himself out of trouble on a couple occasions. That’s been a difference maker.”

Wandell’s made a difference on the scoring front as well, potting three goals during the Stars’ recent eight-game points streak. He’s been shooting the puck more, something he said his family and friends have been prodding him to do.

“I think before I was looking for passes way, way too much. Why not shoot it? You can’t score if you don’t shoot,” Wandell said. “I just decided to shoot more. My dad says all the time that I should shoot more and friends say I can’t score if I don’t shoot. I’ve tried to throw puck in there a little bit more and a few have bounced in.”

Stars look for stronger starts

The Stars are 1-1-1 in the first three games of their seven-game homestand and both times they’ve fallen short of two points they’ve fallen behind early in games.

Calgary jumped to a 3-0 first period lead before the Stars rallied to tie and the Flames won in a shootout. The Kings scored an early power play goal to take a lead and then extended it to 2-0 in the second period before the Stars rallied to tie and the Kings finally won it with a late goal in regulation.

The Stars would like to get off to better starts as the homestand continues Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

“We like to get out, especially here at home, push teams around and get out to early leads,” said captain Brenden Morrow. “[Slow starts] are not a recipe for success in the long run, but we’re kind of getting by with it right now.”

The Stars are best team in the league when they score first, posting a 28-3-2 record. They rank 24th in the league with a 9-21-6 record when surrendering the first goal.

“We’d like to be a team that has them chase us,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “You’re so much better statistically if you score first, if you have a good start to the game.”

Burish out Tuesday

Stars forward Adam Burish will miss his second straight game due to a lower body injury, Stars coach Marc Crawford said after the team’s practice in Frisco on Monday.

“We're going to watch him progress here day by day and hopefully he continues to improve,” said Crawford. “He blocked a shot some time back and he's had some pain with it. Anybody that's watched us can see that it has affected his skating. We've made the decision to shut him down for a bit to see if that's going to make an improvement on it. As soon as he gets that improvement we all know that he'll be back in the lineup.”

Nieuwendyk on player safety committee

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has named Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk to a committee of former players to work on issues related to player safety. Also on the committee are Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman and Rob Blake.

“If there's a common thread among those four people, it is one in addition to being either senior or club officials, they're all Hall of Fame eligible players, quality players who have played the game in the rules coming back from the work stoppage, and I think it's important to have them involved on an ongoing basis,” Bettman said.

That committee was among five steps on player safety that Bettman outlined Monday at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida. The other steps included reducing equipment size without reducing its protectiveness, revising the NHL protocol for concussions, holding teams and coaches accountable for repeat offenders with regard to supplemental discipline, and looking at ways to make rinks safer.