Programming note: Coyotes-Sharks coverage starts Saturday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – Much like the Sharks, the Dallas Stars haven’t gotten off to the kind of start they were hoping for this season.
Their problems stem mainly from their back end, where Dallas is allowing 3.35 goals-per game, 27th in the NHL. The Stars sit in sixth place in the Central Division with a 7-9-4 record and 18 points, ahead of only Colorado (17 points).
Jason Demers-for-Brenden Dillon is their third recent transaction on the blue line. The Stars dealt Sergei Gonchar to Montreal on Nov. 11 and placed Kevin Connauton on waivers on Nov. 18, where the Columbus Blue Jackets claimed him.
“You can see with our back end, we’ve been working hard on that,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News, shortly after the trade was announced. “We’ve made some adjustments and we’ve brought some younger guys in.”
The Stars were in need of a right-handed defenseman, so turning to the Sharks was no surprise. Demers will be one of just two righties on the Stars’ roster with youngster and recent recall John Klingberg, 22, being the other.
San Jose has righties in Brent Burns and Justin Braun, while Worcester prospects Taylor Fedun, Matt Tennyson and Taylor Doherty all also shoot right. One of them could very well arrive in San Jose shortly to take up Demers' vacant position.
On the left side the Sharks feature Marc-Edouard Vlasic as their rock, but rookie Mirco Mueller is still getting acclimated to the NHL. Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin haven’t performed up to par, so the Sharks had to pay a visit to Dallas' Leftorium.
Dillon could get a chance right away to help on that side at the expense of either Hannan or Irwin, either of whom could be the next to depart as the Sharks try and correct some blue line issues of their own.
“We’re very fortunate to have a fairly large cache of right-shot defensemen, so it allowed us to do this deal,” Doug Wilson said.
The Sharks have made it a priority to play a righty with a lefty since the start of the season. That’s what Dallas is aiming to do now.
Ruff said: “We’ve made some adjustments and we’ve brought some younger guys in. I think the puck moving, what Klingberg has added, the right-handed defenseman, I think everybody has seen the dividends.
“When I got involved in the Olympics, the No. 1 thing we talked about was lefty-righty, lefty-righty, because they’re under so much duress that when you’re caught in your back end, a lot of times there’s no play. So I think that part has helped.”
Although he’s struggled this season, Demers has shown he can excel when he’s put in the right situation. Last year, he essentially supplanted Dan Boyle on the top defense pair with Vlasic late in the season and the result was his best year as a professional.
The Stars hope that he gets his career trending the right way again in the Lone Star State.
“Jason is coming off his most productive season in the NHL and is just entering the prime of his career,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a press release. “Organizationally, we were in the marketplace for a right-handed, two-way defenseman and he will help us tremendously in finding a balance on our blueline.”