After spending the past three seasons knowing the team could basically do nothing in free agency, Stars fans were eager to see what the team could do when it actually had money to play with.
They've been treated to an emotional roller coaster ranging from jubilance (Jagr signing) to confusion (also Jagr) to downright unbridled anger (Ott trade) with each move. It's actually been quite fascinating to see.
In total (aside from the draft), the Stars signed six free agents, re-signed (or are in the process of re-signing) 12 players, traded three players for two in return, lost three players to other teams, and bought out one minor leaguer. That also doesn't take into account five prospects that Dallas gave entry level contracts two.
I'll be providing a rundown of each of the Stars moves (or non-moves) this offseason with some thoughts at the end of each section. All cap numbers are from Capgeek.
RW Jaromir Jagr - 1 year/$4.55 million
LW Ray Whitney - 2 years/$9 million
LW Antoine Roussel - 2 years/(two way contract, no financial details yet)
C Derek Roy (trade) - 1 year/$4 million
C Cody Eakin (trade) - 2 years/$1.27 million (entry level contract)
C Radek Faksa (draft) - 3 years/Entry level contract
C Emil Molin - 3 years/Entry level contract
F Brett Ritchie - 3 years/Entry level contract
D Aaron Rome - 3 years/$4.5 million
D Jyrki Jokipakka - 3 years/Entry level contract
D Troy Vance - 3 years/Entry level contract
D Tyler Sloan - 1 year/$600K (two-way contract)
G Christopher Nihlstorp - 1 year/$1 million (two-way contract)
The two big signings this off-season were obviously Jagr and Whitney. Both moves make this year's team better while also preparing for the future. It allows the young wingers on this team to keep improving at the AHL level or late energy lines (guys like Alex Chiasson, Radek Faksa, Reilly Smith and Colton Sceviour).
The Steve Ott for Derek Roy trade hit a pretty big bump when it was learned this week that Roy would undergo shoulder surgery and miss the first two months of the season. The Stars knew of the problem when they traded for him and wanted him to be fully healthy before suiting up.
The move is interesting because Roy is only signed on for one year and I highly doubt GM Joe Nieuwendyk would trade a fan favorite for what amounts to a four month rental. The team is showing faith in the player that Roy can be and it should be pretty obvious now that the Stars will re-sign him at some point this year.
Roy will most likely be out until late November and then will still need time adjusting to his linemates and learning their tendencies (most likely Whitney and Michael Ryder). The good news is that he can still condition and stay in shape. He'll just miss that time needed to learn the system and get used to his new teammates.
For the moment, it looks like Tom Wandell will be taking Roy's spot. Cody Eakin might get a look or two if he impresses during training camp.
Aaron Rome was a signing that I didn't really understand until the Roy trade happened. He now fills the role that Adam Pardy had as an extra defenseman that can fill that physical defender role. He should be better than Pardy though and will probably get more time on ice.
Dallas was also busy signing draft picks from previous years. They signed seven during the season and five more this offseason as they get an infusion of talented youth at the minor league level. Chiasson, Jamie Oleksiak and Faksa are probably the closest to making the team, but they'll need another year at the AHL level.
Nihlstorp provides extra depth at the goalie position and might even provide some battles at that backup goalie spot with Richard Bachman. He did very well in Sweden and the Stars usually do well in finding goalies so he could be a very nice signing.
I touched on the draft a while back, but in short the Stars had a solid one. They significantly improved the center depth and restocked on overseas defensemen. Faksa has already been signed to a contract by the team and could play for Dallas at some point this season. Bystrom was also signed, but he shouldn't be seeing NHL play this season.
LW Francis Wathier - 2 years/$1.15 million
C Tom Wandell - 1 year/$892.5K
C Toby Peterson - 2 years/$1.35 million (two way contract)
F Jamie Benn - (Still unresolved, qualifying offer given)
F Colton Sceviour - 1 year (two way contract, financial details not yet released)
F Ryan Garbutt - 2 years/$575K
F Luke Gazdic - 1 year (two way contract, no financial details yet)
D Philip Larsen - 2 years/$2.05 million
D Mark Fistric - (Still unresolved, qualifying offer given)
D Jordie Benn - (Still unresolved, qualifying offer given)
D Maxime Fortunus - 1 year (two way contract, no financial details yet)
G Richard Bachman - 1 year/$625K
The Wandell deal has bigger significance now that Roy is out a couple of months. He should be in that second center spot and will line up with some offensively explosive players in Whiney and Ryder. He's struggled throughout his career when thrust into a big role and if he can't succeed this time, he'll be gone next season.
Peterson, Gazdic and Fortunus should be AHL players for the duration of their contracts. Wathier, Jordie Benn and Sceviour might get some games with the Dallas Stars, but will probably be mostly AHL guys. If Sceviour and Benn can show something, they might have late line roles at the end of the year with Dallas.
Garbutt will have a late line energy role with the team and should help replace some of the physical play lost in the Ott trade. He did well in his time last year and deserves solid fourth line time with the team this year. The same goes for Bachman. He'll be a steady backup goalie.
Larsen got himself a nice bridge contract this past week. If he plays really well in the next two years, he'll get a long term deal from the Stars. He'll be an important top four defenseman on this team and Fun Size will boast one of the better nicknames on the Stars while he's here.
Of the deals that fans are still waiting for, the Jamie Benn and the Fistric are the most important. Fistric will get big minutes on defense next season and Jamie Benn is only the most important player on the team and a franchise guy. I would expect a long term deal for him worth somewhere around $5-6 million a year.
RW Eric Gogard - 2 years/$1.45 million (contract bought out)
C Jake Dowell (To Minnesota Wild) - 2 years/$1.4 million
C Mike Ribeiro (Trade to Washington Capitals) - 1 year/$5 million
F Adam Burish (To San Jose Sharks) - 4 years/$7.4 million
F Steve Ott (Trade to Buffalo Sabres) - 2 years/$5.9 million
D Sheldon Souray (To Anaheim Ducks) - 3 years/$11 million
D Adam Pardy (Trade to Buffalo Sabres) - 1 year/$2 million
Ribeiro provided points but did little of anything else and those points always seemed to be too little. Burish and Souray leaving to division rivals hurts, but there's no way Dallas could offer those contracts.
By getting rid of Ott, Souray, Burish and Riberio, the Stars jettisoned off four of the five worst penalty takers on the team last season (something that killed the Stars). It should be a lot less time spent on the PK this season.
The biggest losses in these subtractions are the toughness lost, Ott's heart and passion and the face-off skills of Ott and Burish. Roy is an improvement over Ribeiro in that category, but he's out for awhile.
I totally forgot that Dallas even signed Godard last year, so that's all you need to know about what he provided. Getting rid of Pardy is addition through subtraction.
Still Free Agents:
There's about a 1% chance combined that any of these players return to the Stars. Esposito, Stefanovich, Neal and Hauswirth were not given qualifying offers so they're gone. Their time was up anyway with the young guys ready to make their way to the AHL.
Dvorak will have his spot taken by a youngster (Garbutt or Vincour most likely) on the Dallas squad. He did alright in his time here last year, but really didn't provide too much except a lot of time spent on the penalty kill.
Raycroft signed his going away papers when he struggled mightily as a starter when Kari Lehtonen had an injury. Lukowich is an older veteran that just had his time come up and Sawada will be leaving to make way for young guys. I honestly had no clue who Dan Spang was, so there's that.
Overall, this was an excellent offseason for the Stars. They got younger while at the same time good enough to compete for the playoffs this season and filled holes on this team. I would have liked if they signed one more defenseman, but it looks like they'll go young at that position. It should be an exciting season next year.
At the moment, it looks like the starting lines should be something like this:
Whitney-Wandell (until Roy is healthy)-Ryder
Vincour-Eakin-Garbutt (Reilly Smith also with some time here)
Aaron Rome filling in where needed.
Lehtonen as the starting goalie.