A fresh start for Eric Nystrom

DALLAS -- After his first skate with the Dallas Stars earlier this week, Eric Nystrom smiled when asked about the fresh start he was about to get after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild.

"I am so looking forward to it,” said Nystrom. “I didn't fit in in Minnesota and there was a situation here that gave me an opportunity, so all I can do is take advantage of it."

The situation in Dallas that gave him an opportunity was the Stars needed to add a player to get above the salary cap floor after the New York Rangers sent Sean Avery to the AHL, taking $2 million in cap costs off the Stars’ books. Nystrom’s $1.4 million cap hit was a financial fit. And the Stars think the hardworking role player can be a good fit on the ice as well.

"I know him. When I was (coaching) in Las Vegas (ECHL), in the Calgary organization, I saw him play at camp,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He's an energy guy, he can skate, he plays physical and has a little edge to his game. I think he provides us with some speed and that’s going to help. I think he can play the way we want to play, a pacey type game. I think it is a real good acquisition for us.”

The 6-1, 193 pound left wing said he is ready to help the Stars in whatever way he can.

“Whatever they want me to do. That’s the situation I’m in. If they want me to do anything that’s what I am here to do,” he said. “I play a certain way. I play as hard as I can every night. That’s the reason I am in this league. I am willing to do anything I have to.”

The Stars are hoping to see the Nystrom who was an effective player in Calgary, scoring a career-high 11 goals in 2009-10 while playing in all 82 games. It was after that season that he hit the free agent market and signed a three-year, $4.2 million contract with the Wild. It didn’t go well in Minnesota last season, where he had 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) and a minus-16 rating in 82 games.

“As players sometimes you have an off year. That’s the way it works. You want to have an opportunity to rebound,” said Nystrom. “I worked as hard as I possibly could this summer to give myself a chance. So far it’s been a little bit of a rocky road to start this year, but this is a new start and I am so excited.”

Part of that rocky road was being at the center of some controversy when he was involved in a play where Edmonton Oilers defenseman Taylor Fedun broke his leg during a race to a puck on an icing call. Nystrom visited Fedun in the hospital and had to deal with criticism on Twitter. Then there was being placed on waivers and assigned to Houston in the AHL.

Now, Nystrom just wants to look forward and put the past behind him.

“I haven’t really been able to breathe, be myself. It’s been tough,” said Nystrom. “But I am excited for a fresh start. I just want to go as hard as I can, help this team any way I can and forget about the past.”

Broadcast note: Bob Sturm in the booth with Ralph Saturday

KTCK’s Bob Sturm will be doing Saturday’s television and radio broadcast with Stars’ play-by-play announcer Ralph Strangis. Sturm will be filling in for color analyst Daryl Reaugh, who will be working a CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcast this weekend.