Texas Stars welcome new faces after trade deadline

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The NHL trade deadline affected the Texas Stars too. 

With the Dallas Stars being sellers at the deadline, which passed at 2 p.m. on March 1, the AHL team got a couple new faces in Mark McNeill and Dillon Heatherington and saw Remi Elie get called up to the NHL. 

“Sometimes you can get stung,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “This year, we picked up a couple young kids. They will be couple good pieces for Dallas moving forward and a couple good pieces for us for the rest of the season.”

McNeill came over from the Rockford IceHogs along with a fourth round draft pick for Johnny Oduya, while Heatherington joined from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Lauri Korpikoski.

Remi Elie, who has eight goals and 17 assists with Texas this season, was called up on March 1 and made his NHL debut on Saturday, recording two shots and five shot attempts. 

“It’s been an exciting ride,” McNeill said. “From getting the phone call to getting up bright and early and hopping on a plane to meet Texas in San Jose. It’s something I’ve never experienced before. I’m excited to be here.”

Heatherington and McNeill are both veterans of the Western Hockey League, a league where Laxdal won a pair of championships. That familiarity will come in handy for a team that needs a good run to make the playoffs for the fifth straight season. 

“Mark didn’t get the opportunity he thought he could in Chicago and we’ve got some things to work on,” Laxdal said. “Dylan is just 21 and has a lot of upside for Dallas. He’s a big, strong and heavy defenseman that plays with a lot of energy.”

Heatherington scored four goals and had 21 assists with the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate in Cleveland and won the Calder Cup last season, but hasn’t gotten a call to the NHL in his short time as a professional. 

McNeill, a first-round draft pick in 2011, has 73 goals and 85 assists in 274 career AHL games, most of which came with the Rockford IceHogs. His most recent goal, however, came in his Stars’ home debut, a 5-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday. 

“I have some mixed emotions leaving an organization behind that you’ve been with for a while,” McNeill said. “But you’re starting a new chapter and it’s really exciting. It’s something to look forward to.”

The Stars bounced back with a 6-2 win in San Antonio against the San Antonio Rampage and return home when they host the Iowa Wild for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night. 

“If we play like we did Saturday down the stretch, we’re going to make a nice push,” Laxdal said. “We’re hoping to get some guys back from injury and we’ll go from there.”

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