Over the coming weeks, we are going to dive deep into the top Dallas Stars’ storylines to follow this summer. The Stars have a lot of work to do before they return to the ice in October and these storylines will be key to their success.
The first topic is free agency. Dallas has a handful of free agents this summer from key players to the taxi squad. The names that we will focus on are Miro Heiskanen, Jamie Oleksiak, Joel Kiviranta, Jason Dickinson, John Klingberg, Blake Comeau, and Andrew Cogliano.
Dallas Stars Top Storyline #1 – Free Agency
The first priority on that list for Dallas needs to be Miro Heiskanen. Miro is the present and future of this team and is set to become a restricted free agent in July. While there is no doubt that he will return, the contract that he will receive is in question.
At this point in his career, he has earned a large raise. He led the Stars with 26 points in 27 playoff games last season and has proven to be the teams’ top defenseman, if not the top player overall. It is normal for defensemen like Miro to sign hefty seven or eight-year extensions similar to the one Klingberg signed in 2015.
With the current state of the NHL due to the COVID pandemic, this may not be best for either side. The salary cap in the NHL is currently flat which means that there is a more strict limit on how much a team can dish out. The Stars are also in a position where they have some other key players that they would really like to bring back.
With that being said, it may be in the best interest for both sides to sign a bridge contract. This would most likely be a three-year contract and would allow the Stars to hold onto some much-needed money while allowing Heiskanen to sign for a larger amount when the salary cap returns to normal in a few seasons.
The next priority on the list is Jamie Oleksiak. Oleksiak has become a staple on the top four since returning to Dallas last season. He will become an unrestricted free agent and with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft coming this summer, his situation is more complex.
Dallas would be unable to protect him as they are already protecting three defensemen in Klingberg, Lindell, and Heiskanen, so they will choose not to re-sign him until after the expansion draft. Leaving him unsigned should deter Seattle from selecting him due to the fear of losing him in free agency immediately. That would allow Dallas to have a week to get a deal done before free agency begins. Jim Nill has stated how important Oleksiak is to the team and that they want to do everything they can to bring him back.
"“Jamie’s a guy that we want, he’s a big part of our core,” Nill said. “I think he’s a big part of our top-four, our defense is as good as any defense in the league when you look at it. He’s a big part of that. So he’s a player we’re hoping we can get re-signed here.” (Dallas Morning News)"
Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickinson are in similar positions. The Stars want to bring both players back and both will become restricted free agents so Dallas will have the ability to match any offers from other clubs. The difference between them is that Kiviranta is exempt from the Seattle draft while Dickinson is not.
Dickinson seems to be a top choice for Seattle especially after a mediocre season from Anton Khudobin lowered his own desirability. Dallas will do all they can to avoid losing Dickinson but they will be unable to protect him after Joe Pavelski showed that he is worth protecting.
The two veteran forwards Blake Comeau and Andrew Cogliano have been a huge part of the Stars’ third line over the last few years. However, both players are above the age of 33 and have seen their offensive production decrease. While their value cannot be underestimated, the Stars may believe that they have better or cheaper options for that role.
If they were to let both players go, they would gain $5.65 million in cap space and could fill those gaps with younger players such as Ty Dellandrea, Riley Damiani, or even decide to dress a more balanced offensive lineup. Unfortunately for the Stars, they struggle to score goals and these two veterans do not add much in that area. If they believe that their younger players could jump in here, add more scoring, and not see a large dropoff in defensive play, that is the obvious choice.
Last but not least is John Klingberg. The reason that he is at the bottom of the priority list is that he still has one year left on his contract. While the Stars would like to sign him well before next summer, the urgency is less than with the other names on the list.
"“This process doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time,” said Stars general manager Jim Nill. “They’re going to want to see what the market is, we’re going to want to see what the market is, and we’re just going to have to walk through it. John does have a year left, so there is little less urgency there, but still he’s a big part of our team.”"
Klingberg has been a Dallas Star his entire career and has stated that he would like to remain there. While it is no guarantee, with how much of an impact he has had on this team on both sides of the ice, it seems likely that the Stars find a way to extend his contract before he walks into free agency.
"“It’s something that I think about, obviously, for sure,” Klingberg said. “I’ll sit down with Jim and my agent and we’ll see where we’re at. It’s a little emotional, for sure. I can’t really control what happens with the COVID world right now, flat cap and all of that. It’s different times. Ever since I came in the league, I’ve been a Dallas Star, and that’s what I want to be, but it also has to be the right fit for me and my family and for the organization. Take it day by day here and then see where we’re at.”"
Next Storyline: The overcrowded goalie room
- Published on 05/21/2021 at 13:42 PM
- Last updated at 05/21/2021 at 13:42 PM