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Stars make Goligoski, their highest-paid defenseman, a healthy scratch

Feb 6, 2013, 2:57 PM EDT

Dallas Stars v Los Angeles Kings Getty Images

Some eyebrow-raising news out of Dallas on Wednesday as the Stars announced defenseman Alex Goligoski would be a healthy scratch for this evening’s game against the Oilers.

Goligoski, 27, was the central figure in the trade that sent James Neal and Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh in 2011.

Last year he led all Stars defensemen in scoring (9G-21A-30PTS) while averaging close to 23 minutes per game, and in January of 2012, inked a four-year contract extension worth $18.4 million — an annual cap hit of $4.6 million, making him Dallas’ highest-paid defenseman.

It’s unclear why Goligoski has been made a healthy scratch.

He leads all Dallas skaters this year in average time on ice (22:15) and, despite his sub par production, still leads all Stars blueliners in points (three).

He has a plus-2 rating and, just three games ago, played a season-high 25:24 in a 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix.

Here’s Goligoski speaking to reporters following Monday’s 3-2 win over Colorado:

Seemed like everything was fine there.

As for replacements, sounds as though Philip Larsen and Aaron Rome will draw in on defense tonight for Dallas.

Update: Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News spoke with Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan about the decision to make Goligoski a healthy scratch.

“Alex needs to get back to Alex’s level. It’s pretty cut and dried,’’ Gulutzan said.

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