Since becoming GM in 2013, Jim Nill has led the Dallas Stars to two playoff runs. However, he has made a few mistakes. Could this year be his last?
If all hell breaks loose for the Dallas Stars this year, Jim Nill may be on his way out of Texas. Jim Nill, who became the Stars’ General Manager in April of 2013, has a high bar to reach this season.
That bar, you might ask? A playoff run. Preferably, a deep one.
The Dallas Stars has missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and it’s safe to say that Stars fans want more than an 82 game season.
Nill has made some bizarre moves as GM, signing a few players who just didn’t live up to their potential.
Ales Hemsky, for example, only put up 28 goals and 50 assists across three seasons for Dallas, while finishing with a plus/minus differential of -6 overall. Hemsky, who Nill visioned to be a top 6 forward, didn’t match the stats in Dallas to be paid $4 million per season.
In defense of Hemsky, he was on the IR for most of his last season in Dallas.
Then there is Martin Hanzal, who only played in 38 games last season (5 G, 10 A). Don’t get me wrong — I like Hanzal when he’s healthy. Hanzal, who is 31, is getting paid $4.75 million dollars a season, which is a rather large payday.
He got paid 125,000 for every game he played this season, and only put up 10 points. Hanzal can be a solid 2nd or 3rd line center and is a beast on the penalty kill; he just needs to stay off the IR.
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Finally, Nill signed Jiri Hudler, who spend the majority of the 2016-17 season with an undisclosed illness. Because of the illness, he only played 32 games for Dallas and put up 11 points (3 G, 8 A).
Yes, I know, Jim Nill is not responsible for players getting injured or sick, nor should that be the reason why he might lose his job.
That aside, Nill’s most crucial mistakes can’t be seen on the roster.
Since Nill became GM in 2013, he has gone through three head coaches. First was Lindy Ruff (2013-2017), who led Dallas to their first playoff run since the 2007-08 season.
Then Ken Hitchcock (2017-18), and now Jim Montgomery (2018-Present). Three coaches in seven years is not exactly the best turnaround rate. Hopefully, Monty will be the answer Dallas is looking for.
Stars have the pieces to success but haven’t been able to translate it to the postseason. The last time Dallas went past the second round of the playoffs was in the 2007-08 season, where they lost in six games to Detroit (Dallas had defeated Anaheim and San Jose both in six games each prior to losing to Detroit) in the Conference Finals.
Of the six seasons that Nill has served as GM, Dallas has only gone to the postseason twice; in the 2013-14 season and in the 2015-16 season. The first time they went to the playoffs with Nill, they were knocked out in the first round by Anaheim, losing in six games. The second time, they were able to defeat Minnesota in six but lost to St. Louis in seven games in the second round.
A lot of fans, myself included, believed that last season could’ve been “the year,” after Nill added a few notable players (namely Radulov, Hanzal, Pitlick, etc.) to the roster. The offensive firepower of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov with the defensive strength of John Klingberg and Marc Methot and the elite goaltending of Ben Bishop, fans began to think that Dallas might have been a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Clearly, that didn’t work out.
After last season’s depressing finish, I think the Dallas Stars fans will get thoroughly annoyed with the team if they miss the playoffs for the third year in a row.
That said, I do like some of the moves Nill has made. Bringing in Tyler Seguin, Patrick Eaves, Patrick Sharp (and Stephen Johns), Alexander Radulov, and others have no doubt made the team better over the years. However, the number of good players he can acquire means nothing if the Dallas Stars are unable to make the playoffs.
This year might be Jim Nill’s last straw. If it is, let’s hope he makes good use of it.