Eric Nystrom has quickly become a fan favorite here in Dallas. Ever since he was picked up by the Stars in 2011, he has evolved into an energetic, versatile wingman for the team. It is not uncommon to see Nystrom flying up the ice on an avid fore check, dropping the gloves, or scoring a pretty goal. 

Being a personality on and off the ice, Nystrom has taken on several roles. This season we have seen him on his usual vital shut-down checking line but also alongside Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr. Even on a young team like Dallas, this speaks volumes to his flexibility as a player. 

Well, this summer, Eric Nystrom becomes an unrestricted Free Agent. The Stars wisely chose not to deal him at the deadline which indicates there might be/has been a decent effort to get a contract done. Here are my reasons why Eric Nystrom needs to be in a Stars jersey next season and hopefully for many more:

-There is one place which we have not been able to watch Eric shine: the playoffs. Nystrom seems to be someone who feeds off energy, whether it be his teammates', his own successes', or the fans'. The playoffs bring out another gear in many players and I sincerely think he is someone (much like Jamie Langenbrunner) who can bring a lot to the table come April, May, and June. If there is post season berth in the cards for the Stars within the next several years, he is someone who needs to be a part of that.

-And that brings me to my next point. Nystrom is 30. Yes, he is by no means a youngster, but signing him to a 3-4 year contract is not going to be a massive risk for the team, especially at a $2-2.5 million cap hit. He will be around and in his prime as many of the rookies and prospects become NHL-ready. 

-Eric Nystrom can fill many roles. Not only does he provide quality depth, Nystrom can and has turned games around. We have seen it happen on the road and at home. He can play a shut-down role but also provide a scoring threat. He stands in as the team enforcer and delivers a much needed physical game for the Stars. From a leadership standpoint, I cannot remember a time where we have seen him give less than 100% effort. Where this teams stands now, guys like this are essential to the growth and development of younger players as they provide a source of leadership on and off the ice. 

The Stars took a chance with this former first round draft pick. They gave him a shot and he has delivered beyond expectations and has earned his spot on this roster. Before the trade deadline, I did not think the Stars would get many attractive offers for him; he is one of those guys whose value becomes apparent after some time in the lineup. Naturally, I thought teams would undervalue him. Luckily he's still in Dallas.

Going forward, I do not see anything but positives coming from him. I will be shocked if he isn't in a Stars' jersey come the 2013-2014 season and I sure as hell would love to see what he would do in the post season. Wouldn't you? 

Enjoy these (you're welcome):

Notice he's the first guy to the puck and he is strong on it. Not to mention a beautiful goal.

 

More recently, this "momentum changing play" (co-starring Alex Chiasson)

And another (co-starring his whole line...notice the score, we won this one)
 

Oh, and he can fly