Q&A: Jim Nill on Lundkvist, Oettinger, long-term impacts, analytics, and more
I spoke with the Stars GM on Tuesday before the game on a couple wide-ranging topics.
I caught up with general manager Jim Nill during warmups before the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 on Tuesday.
Amongst the most pressing, newsworthy items, Miro Heiskanen is likely going to make his return this week. Heiskanen last played since Jan. 4 and has been skating back in Dallas. Nill said if it was playoff time, Heiskanen would already be playing and that the defender would play on Thursday or Saturday home, maybe in both games.
The following is a lightly edited conversation for clarity on a number of Stars-related topics that have been on my mind lately.
SS: With Heiskanen out, and set to return soon, how do you look at the way your defense has responded? Thomas Harley’s minutes are up, Nils Lundkvist hasn’t been juggling scratches.
JN: I’m happy with how they’ve responded. There is opportunity there and guys grabbed it. I go back to two years ago, we lost Miro when he had mono. I think we lost him for seven or eight weeks and guys stepped up much like this. It’s opportunity, that’s a great experience for guys, and we are going to need everybody for a long playoff run. And this has helped to build up that that résumé for guys that haven’t played a lot and also shows what guys can do when they get in bigger situations.
SS: Nils Lundkvist’s name gets up a lot. His usage has been divisive for the fan based. I hear about, I’m sure you’ve heard those reactions too. How do you gauge where he is right now?
JN: I think he’s done a good job. He’s a young guy, you know, and I probably have always looked at Nils with a different picture than everyone else. People want him to go zero to 100, when in reality it’s zero to 25. Twenty-five to 50, to 70, to 100.
I think he’s right on pace where we’d thought he’d be. He’s gonna have his highs and lows, but I think his past 20 games he’s been very good.