Last week, we mentioned that in addition to the Dallas Stars good draft, the team had signed and traded for a couple of free agents to help bolster the talent on their roster. They signed 40-year Ray Whitney away from Phoenix and traded for Buffalo’s Derek Roy. That’s not to mention the draft day trade that brought a young, promising center Cody Eakin from Washington for center Mike Ribiero.
The Stars weren’t done this last week, adding another veteran (and I use veteran loosely) in signing Jaromir Jagr to one-year $4.55 million deal. Jagr, like Whitney is 40-years old. However, Jagr still has something left in the tank. He proved that last year in Philadelphia, when he recorded 54 points with nineteen goals and 35 assists. Looking at his stats last year, you notice how efficient Jagr was on the power play. He had eight power play goals to go along with twelve assists. Given just how anemic the Stars power play was last year, this signing should provide a huge boost to that unit. In case you forgot, the Stars power play unit was the worst in hockey last year at 13.5 percent. Ouch! Adding Jagr can only help this unit, because they can’t get much worse.
The Stars also re-signed 25-year old center Tom Wandell to one-year deal worth just under nine-hundred thousand dollars. Last year, Wandell scored six goals and recorded nine assists. The team also signed their first round pick, 18-year old Radek Faksa to a three-year deal. He should make an impact on the Stars sometime this year. The Stars have been very busy this offseason and their moves will pay off and should get the Stars back in the postseason.
However, one NHL team has turned all heads and gotten a disgruntled and restless fan base energized in one day. It happened on Wednesday, July 4. And the team is the Minnesota Wild. The Wild shook up the Western Conference and the NHL when they agreed to 13-year $98 million contracts with each Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the top two free agents in free agency. Everyone knew the Wild were in the running to sign one of the players. But both? Unheard of. It shocked the NHL world. The two best players went to a market that is wild about hockey. It is the “state of hockey” after all. With established teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and even Boston and New Jersey in the mix to sign these guys, for the Wild, a team that hasn’t been to the postseason in four years to land both of them is truly remarkable. Now comes the expectations and the pressure of not only making it to the playoffs annually, but also to win a Stanley Cup or two. It sounds though like the players and the team are ready for the challenge.
Prior to Independence Day, I thought the Dallas Stars were having perhaps the best offseason with their free agency acquisitions. They still are one of the winners in free agency so far, but there is no question about it that the Minnesota Wild have jumped them and the rest of hockey as free agency winners this offseason. The matchups between these two teams this year should be very competitive. Perhaps even a playoff matchup between the two teams lies in front. Of course, this all remains to be determined. We still have to have an NHL regular season. Let’s hope there is no lockout, because this season promises to be a very exciting and memorable season. How each the Stars and Wild’s free agency acquisitions work out are not known to us now. We do know though that their future is Written in the Stars.