Horcoff relishing change in scenery to Dallas

Shawn Horcoff admits changing teams is not something he knows much about. After all, the Edmonton Oilers took him in the fourth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He made his debut with the Oilers in 2000 and spent 12 seasons in Edmonton before being traded to the Dallas Stars on Friday morning, a deal where the Oilers got young defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in return.

“I’ve never played for another team. Thirteen years in an organization is a lifetime in this sport,” Horcoff said during a Friday afternoon conference call. “This is all new to me, to go through an experience like this so it took a little bit of an adjustment time. It was a little different.”

The 34-year-old center had 12 points in 31 games for Edmonton last year and even though he admits his last few seasons with the Oilers didn’t go the way he had hoped, he is still embracing the move to Dallas to a club that’s clearly retooling on the fly under new GM Jim Nill and recently hired head coach Lindy Ruff.

“I’m really excited for it actually. As much fun and enjoyment as I had in Edmonton, I think I’m ready and looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. The last season or so, last couple years haven’t gone the way I’d liked to and I’m really looking forward to a new opportunity and proving I can still play at a high level,” Horcoff said.

Not only will the veteran centerman be asked to help provide the Stars with something that they have sorely lacked over the past few seasons, depth at center ice, but the big man will also be asked to contribute on the penalty kill, something else he’s willing to do.

But while on one hand it was tough for him to leave Edmonton, the only place he had played in the NHL, after talking to Nill and hearing the direction the Stars were headed, he knew almost immediately that coming to Dallas would be the perfect fit for him as well as for the Dallas organization.

“I really like the moves that Jim’s done. He’s always improving. He’s not afraid to make bold moves. He assured me that they’re not rebuilding or anything. They want to win now and he’s making the moves to win now and that’s’ really important for me,” Horcoff said.

Dallas was a team that clearly went young last season, trading away key veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow and Michael Ryder so that younger players could get some much-needed experience.

Horcoff will definitely be asked to fill a leadership role in Big D, something else this savvy veteran is clearly willing and able to do.

“Yeah, that’s one thing I’ve got good experience in, is being surrounded by real good young players. I think I did a good job with the young guys up in Edmonton,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is a lot of these young guys when they come in is they’ve got to realize what it takes to be an elite-level player in the NHL. The best players in the league find ways to produce every single night. It is an area I do have a lot of experience in.”

And while some might say that his offensive production has been on a steady decline for the last few years, this ex-Oiler chooses not to focus on his numbers. That’s because he knows exactly what he can bring to a young squad like Ruff has in Dallas and it’s not all about what he can contribute on the offensive end.

“I don’t really put numbers on where I’m at. I feel like I’m a player that can definitely play both sides of the puck and I feel like I’m a player that can still contribute offense in a top-six role. I’m not that far removed from that,” Horcoff said. “I’m looking forward to getting a chance to go up there and prove myself again.”