NHL Free Agency begins today and look for the Dallas Stars to be big players. The Stars made the playoffs last season for the first time in 5 years and winning not only now but for the long term is the focus for General Manager Jim Nill.
Last season Nill pulled off the mega trade that brought young future Superstar Tyler Seguin the day before free agency started and that was it. Feeling he had the roster he wanted the Stars were not big time players despite have some cap room to make a move. The right player at the right price never materialized.
Since Sergei Zubov retired in the 08-09 season Stars fans have yearned for a puck moving defenseman who can run the power play and get the puck up the ice quickly while logging big minutes against the other teams top lines. Jim Nill addressed this recently wtih Norm Hitzges on the ticket.
The minor league affiliate Texas Stars just won the AHL Calder Cup playoffs and several of the Stars top defensive products played big roles. Nill feels that their continued development will produce the right candidate or multiple candidates to fill that need.
“I’m excited about our back end,” says Nill. “When we won the Calder Cup down in Texas, we had four kids down there knocking on the door. They’re all very close Patrick Nemeth, was up here a bit at the end of the year, he’s ready. Oleksiak, the first round pick from three years ago, he’s very close.”
That leaves second center as the most pressing need. Statsny is going to get a maximum deal of 7 years and big money from someone, most likely not the Stars. The Stars don’t want to tie themselves in to a big long term contract with several of their own players due for raises in a few years and impending flood of free agents possibilities coming soon as well.
Thornton would have to agree to come here. He has a no-trade clause and while it is rumored he may be pushed out of San Jose the final decision is his. San Jose will want multiple picks and prospects for an aging center that might be passed his prime. The upside is that he has three years left on his contract. If you land him he’s here for a while.
Speeza is another story. While younger and potentially with more upside he only has one year left on his deal which means giving up good young prospects for a player that could only be yours for one year. It’s a risk reward situation that the Stars would need to look at closely.
Obviously only time will tell how it all turns out but if one of the three options were to happen, Speeza seems to be the most likely. Today might be the the day that shapes the Stars upcoming season or they may do nothing, let the kids develop and take a more long term look at this whole winning thing. Either way Nill still has the same focus.