Scott Valentine happy to fill Texas Stars defensive void

Scott Valentine knew he wasn’t going to spend the entire hockey season with the Idaho Steelheads.

The 23-year-old defenseman signed an ECHL-only contract with Idaho as he was looking for his next AHL contract, which he signed with the Texas Stars on Wednesday.

“I was kind of taking things game-by-game and week-by-week,” Valentine said. “Things kind of happened out of the blue, now I’m here.”

Texas found itself in need of a defenseman after the Dallas Stars put Kevin Connauton on waivers, with the intention of sending him to the AHL. However, the Columbus Blue Jackets claimed Connauton off waivers, and Jyrki Jokipakka was recalled by Dallas, leaving Texas with only six defensemen on the roster.

Texas general manager Scott White said he was looking for the “next player who can help our team,” and he had already reached out to Valentine before Connauton was put on waivers.

“Monday he had reached out to the coach in Boise, and that’s when it was first brought to me,” Valentine said. “They had a suspicion the waiver claim might happen … it was a pretty quick turnaround.”

Valentine flew into Austin on Wednesday night and practiced with the team Thursday. He could make his Stars debut Friday, against the San Antonio Rampage.

Valentine has 191 games of AHL experience over the past three seasons, all with the Milwaukee Admirals, and Stars coach Derek Laxdal said Valentine should add a physical presence with his 6-foot-2-inch, 196-pound frame.

“It’s only one day in practice, but it looks like he’s a little bit more of a heavy player, which we could use on our team,” Laxdal said. “Heavy is good. and he’s going to get a chance to play.”

Valentine said he’s “only heard great things” about the Stars organization, and he’s looking forward to “playing his own game,” within Texas’ system.

“Coming here and knowing it’s a winning organization made the deal a little sweeter,” Valentine said. “I’m excited for that and to help out anyway I can.”

Continue reading this story in the Austin American-Statesman.

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