Dallas Stars vs New York Rangers
American Airlines Center
When the Stars traded a first-round pick to the New York Rangers for defenseman Nils Lundkvist, it was seen by many as too high a price. But not to Jim Nill.
Nill and the Stars believed that Lundkvist was fully capable of playing at an elite level and perhaps becoming a top-pairing guy for Dallas for a very long time. So far this season, the 22-year-old has made the organization look very smart indeed.
This season has been a resurgence for Lundkvist. There is no doubt that he struggled at times during his first season in North America. But in eight games, Lundkvist has tallied four assists, equaling his output in 25 games for New York last season. He has also seen his ice time skyrocket to over 20 minutes per night.
His offensive upside has been well-known since he was drafted in 2018. But in the early stages of 2022-23, the defensive side of his game has really sparkled, especially in the absence of Miro Heiskanen.
“The kid has been unflappable since we got him," Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “Offensively, you see the gifts, but what I like is the way he’s defended. He hasn’t looked overwhelmed or outmuscled in hardly any situation all year. You forget he’s still a young defenseman.”
“I feel like I have been more solid defensively,” Lundkvist said. “This summer was huge for me. My first summer, I had a lot of rehab. I just needed to come to camp without any injury because I had a big injury in the last game. This summer, I had plenty of time to work on strength and conditioning and come back in better shape. So I feel like that has been a big part of it too.”
And now, he gets his shot to face his former club and perhaps show them that they made a mistake in letting him go.
“For sure a special game,” Lundkvist said. “ I know a lot of the organization. It’s going to be a fun game. You know a bunch of the guys, so it’s going to be a fun game.”
“A lot of respect for the guys that are playing there,” he added. “They obviously do a very good job there in New York. They had a good run last year and they have a very talented team this year too. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
Lundkvist asked for a trade after the Rangers blue-line depth forced him into the minors. And so far, that decision has paid off.
“I just tried to stay away from it,” Lundkvist said of requesting a trade. “It was a special situation this summer. I am happy how everything ended and very happy to be here.”
For the Stars, the game gives them another opportunity to test their new style against a very good defensive team, with a very good goaltender.
- Jake Oettinger will start after shutting out the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
Miro Heiskanen will be a game-time decision after he speaks with trainers this morning
Stars Projected Lines
(Miro Heiskanen is questionable)
Sam’s Three Keys
- Score on Igor Sheshterkin early
- Continue to roll four lines
- Shadow Artemi Panarin (12 points in eight games)