The Dallas Stars led the league in significant moves in the offseason, hoping to turn around a franchise that seemed to be headed in the right direction a year ago.
The team plummeted to a sixth-place finish last season in the Central Division a year after ending a decade-long division championship drought and earning top seeding in the Western Conference playoffs.
Dallas desperately needed to make changes and general manager Jim Nill delivered.
Nill began the reshaping project in April by bringing back coach Ken Hitchcock, who guided the franchise to its only Stanley Cup championship in 1999. A month later, Nill acquired the rights to Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick and gave the goaltender a $29.5 million, six-year deal to deal to address a glaring need. To help the other end of the ice, the Stars signed high-scoring winger Alexander Radulov in July.
“We think this offseason has taken us to being a full-fledged Stanley Cup contender,” Stars president Jim Lites told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Hitchcock certainly knows what it takes to win. He’s getting another shot to prove it after losing his job during what was scheduled to be his final season before retirement. The St. Louis Blues fired him 50 games into last season, with a winning record, and he was thrilled to have another opportunity to end his career on his terms in a return to Dallas.
And, it helps that he’s taking over a team built to win.
“We had a lot of discussions about the types of players and positions we needed,” Hitchcock said in a telephone interview. “We found what we were looking for, especially with some highly competitive guys.”
In addition to Bishop and Radulov, the Stars acquired 32-year-old defenseman Marc Methot, signed center Martin Hanzal and retained center Radek Faksa. They also had some good…