Joe Nieuwendyk the player will always be remembered for propelling the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999. The general manager version of Joe Nieuwendyk tells a different story for a lot of fans, but I don’t think it should. Nieuwendyk took over as general manager of the Dallas Stars in 2009 and was fired to make room for Jim Nill in 2013. Nieuwendyk has received a lot of criticism from fans in Dallas, especially concerning the trade that brought Alex Goligoski to Dallas and sent Matt Niskanen and James Neal to Pittsburgh. What many forget, however, is Nieuwendyk was operating under a severely limited budget for most of his tenure and actually did a fantastic job with what he was given. His impact on the organization is still felt today and it will be felt for many years to come.
The best thing a general manager working under a tight budget can do is draft well, and Joe Nieuwendyk did exactly that. The only real negative is two of his first round selections during his tenure. He took Scott Glennie 8th overall in 2009 and he does not look like he is headed to the NHL any time soon. His first-round pick in 2010 is tough to read at the moment. It was American netminder Jack Campbell, who has played pretty inconsistently so far in the AHL. He still shows a lot of promise, so we will have to wait and see about that pick. Nieuwendyk’s mid-to-late round drafting has been superb. John Klingberg was one of the best rookies in the NHL this season, he was drafted in the fifth round by Nieuwendyk. Jyrki Jokipakka, a regular NHL player down the stretch, was drafted in the 7th round in 2011. Patrik Nemeth was a second-round find back in 2010. That is three NHL defensemen currently on the team that were drafted by Nieuwendyk and there could be more on the way next season.
Brett Ritchie, Curtis McKenzie and Jamie Oleksiak all saw significant time in the NHL this season and all three were drafted by Joe Nieuwendyk. And then there are some players who could easily be making the jump to the NHL in the next few years. Both Esa Lindell and Ludwig Bystrom show a ton of promise and they are both defensemen as well. Nieuwendyk has done a fantastic job in stockpiling the farm system and allowing the Stars to be patient with their youth.
Key Trade Pieces
A few draft picks and acquisitions by Joe Nieuwendyk have been significant for other reasons. In 2010, Nieuwendyk signed Matt Fraser as a free agent and put him in Texas with the AHL team, the Texas Stars. A year before that, Nieuwendyk drafted Rielly Smith in the third round. He also acquired defensive prospect Joe Morrow in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. As you may already know, those players were three of the four players that brought Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas. Nieuwendyk also drafted Alex Chassion and Alex Guptill, two of the key players that were traded last summer for Jason Spezza. Without Nieuwendyk acquiring who he did, the Stars may not have two of their top scorers.
Nieuwendyk’s Overall Impact on the Current Dallas Stars
22 players finished the regular season on the Dallas Stars roster. Of those 22, Nieuwendyk either drafted, traded for, or signed 10 of them. Cody Eakin, Alex Goligoski and Kari Lehtonen were all acquired via trade. Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt, Antoine Roussel and Jordie Benn were signed as free agents while the draft picks include Jyrki Jokipakka, Patrik Nemeth and John Klingberg. Jason Demers, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Shawn Horcoff were all traded for using Nieuwendyk’s acquisitions as key pieces in the trades. 14 of the 22 players who ended the season with the Stars can be traced directly back to Nieuwendyk’s success and several more important players could be on their way in the coming seasons. Considering the budget restraints he was under throughout a majority of his tenure, I’d say he did a pretty good job. The future of the Dallas Stars would not be as bright without his accomplishments.
Jordan has been covering the Stars for The Hockey Writers since February 2015. He is originally from Iowa City, Iowa. You can follow Jordan on twitter @jordan_dix