(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"It was a grind," said Jeffrey. "It was long. Mentally it was more exhausting than physically."
Of 82 games in the NHL season, Jeffrey played just 34 between Pittsburgh and Dallas this season. The vet forward was claimed off waivers by the Stars on November 17th, 2013 after playing just ten games with the Penguins. He was on his way to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to get some playing time, but Jim Nill picked him up for forward depth.
"Even when I got to Dallas, I wasn't playing a lot. The mental part of it was harder than anything."
On January 25th, Jeffrey was assigned to Texas, where he eventually suited up for 21 regular season games. He was later called up and played out the final month of the season in Dallas, helping the Stars to their first playoff berth in 5 years. He did not dress for any of the Stars first round series against Anaheim and was sent down with Patrik Nemeth and Chris Mueller in time for Game 3 against OKC. He was an instant X-factor for the Texas club.
"After we lost in Dallas, having the opportunity to come here and play in the playoffs and be able to contribute and win a Cup is the icing on the cake on the year. It makes it all worth it."
Jeffrey played almost as many games in the postseason as he did in the regular season for Texas, totaling 19 games in the Calder Cup run. He put up some huge goals for the squad en route to the championship as well. He had two tallies in the deciding Game 6 against Grand Rapids, including the game winner. His power play goal in Game 7 against Toronto tied things up at two and set the Stars on a trajectory to win that game and the Cup. Combined with Glennie and Mueller, he was electric in Game 1 against St. John's with three assists. In all, he had seven goals and five assists, eclipsing his season point total in the most critical games of the year.
Now a decision looms for the Dallas brass on Jeffrey's contract status.
"I'm still restricted. They have the ability to qualify me, and we'll wait and see what happens. For me, that's my agent's job. Teams know who I am. They know what I can bring. For me, I put the ball in his hands."
Jeffrey is one of seven restricted free agents who played for Texas this season. A combination of factors make his qualification a tough one. He can clearly score at the AHL level and is a difference maker for any team who can get him. However, he is a subject to the veteran rule and has to go through waivers to go up and down to Dallas. He is definitely shooting to crack another NHL roster and could probably do so in a number of cities.
A number of pieces beyond Jeffrey's control also affect him. What will Dallas do for their 13th forward option? Who will be the veteran callups? Will they be able to re-sign Chris Mueller? Is Travis Morin a legitimate bottom six center in the AHL?
If management gave Jeffrey any hints as to their plans, he didn't say anything afterwards.
"If you win the last game of the year, it's a pretty easy meeting. They go a little bit better than if you go out earlier.
"We talked about why our team had the character and leadership it had and why we were able to never be out of a game. Down 2-0 in Game 7 or 3-0 in Game 4, it didn't matter. We talked about why. It will be interesting to see what happens in free agency this summer."
Jeffrey can only do what is within his power though. Among workouts and training sessions, he is also getting married this summer.
When asked about honeymoon destination, he joked, "When you go this far [in the playoffs], there isn't a lot of time for a honeymoon."