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May 23, 2017
Tugnutt Headed To Dallas
by Jim Iovino, Ace Reporter
The Dallas Stars continued to wheel and deal Tuesday, just days before the NHL Entry Draft. The Stars sent one of their first round selections (No. 20 overall) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for veteran goaltender Ron Tugnutt and Columbus' second-round pick.
The Stars still have the 26th pick in the first round. They traded down once already, sending the 13th pick to Washington for No. 20. They now own the following picks in the first two rounds: Nos. 26, 34, 42, 43. Columbus already held the No. 3 overall selection, so the Jackets now have two first-round choices.
The move to acquire Tugnutt comes after the Stars declined to offer free agent Ed Belfour a new contract. The move to not re-sign "Eddie the Eagle" was supposed to be a clear sign that Marty Turco was ready to take over the No. 1 spot in Dallas. Despite the acquisition of 14-year veteran Tugnutt, Turco still has the direct path to the No. 1 position.
Tugnutt was used as a mentor and stopgap measure in Columbus, where he tutored a young Marc Denis through the Jackets' first two years in the league. Tugnutt, who has no problem sharing time between the pipes, will have a similar position in Dallas, where Turco has emerged as an outstanding prospect.
Turco, 26, went 15-6-1 last season in Dallas, sporting a 2.11 GAA, a .920 save percentage and two shutouts. He clearly outplayed Ed Belfour in the second half of the season and earned the chance to be the team's No. 1 netminder.
But Tugnutt isn't a washed-up veteran ready to join the Red Wings at Sunshine Acres. He's still got some game. While playing just 44 and 53 games in the past two seasons, he hasn't received a lot of wear and tear that other quality starting goalies have. And he's capable of winning in the playoffs. He was spectacular during the Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff run three years ago, when he went 6-5 and recorded a 1.77 GAA.
And who can forget Tugnutt's tugnuttiest performance on March 21, 1991 at Boston Gardens. Tugnutt made 70 saves in a 3-3 tie with the Bruins. Ray Bourque had 19 shots on Tugnutt. 19! "Save, Tugnutt!" His performance was so remarkable that every Boston player skated down to Tugnutt after the game to shake his hand. The usually hostile Gardens crowd even gave him a standing ovation.
But that's just Tugger being Tugger…
The loss of Tugnutt will have an immediate impact on Columbus. The team obviously will need a new backup goaltender. Career minor-leaguer J.F. Labbe will be flailing his hands in the air and yelling out, "Ooo, ooo, pick me, pick me!" Nice try, but the Jackets hopefully will go in another direction. Would John Vanbiesbrouck want to come out of retirement yet again?
The other impact in Columbus will be on the team's payroll. Tugnutt signed a big deal as a free agent to join the Jackets. He made $2.4 million this past season. His parting ways with the team means the team has more money to spend on offense. Columbus desperately needs to score more goals. This could be the team's chance to acquire a sniper.
For more on the Tugnutt trade from a Columbus perspective, click here.
Belfour, who is in search of another team to support his wacky ways, could wind up in any number of cities, depending on where other goalies end up. Curtis Joseph has been given an initial offer from the Maple Leafs, but several other teams will more than likely up the ante, including the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers also might go after Pennsylvania-born Mike Richter. Rumor has it that some people aren't exactly happy with Byron Dafoe in Boston, either, making things even more unpredictable. Belfour won't know where he'll be playing until those other situations are cleared up.
Is the dealing done in Dallas? Probably not. The team has some money to throw around, even after last year's free-agent debacles. The Stars' two most sought after free agents are Billy Guerin and Scott Young. Imagine Guerin playing on a line with Mike Modano? We knew you could. And Young would be a strong edition to a line with Pierre Turgeon.