Another gut-wrenching season in the books and the Stars are once again just out of the playoffs. It's clear that the talent level in Dallas just isn't quite up to par with the other playoff teams in the West, as evidenced by what happened to this team in the late stages of the season. The roster situation for next year provides an opportunity for a lot of turnover and with the resources that Tom Gaglardi will be able to provide, the offseason will definitely be an interesting one. Here's the roster breakdown for the offseason and who I believe should be gone come opening day.
Signed and Set To Go For Next Year
- Kari Lehtonen
- Loui Eriksson
- Michael Ryder
- Steve Ott
- Vernon Fiddler
- Brenden Morrow
- Mike Ribeiro
- Eric Nystrom
- Tomas Vincour
- Trevor Daley
- Adam Pardy
- Alex Goligoski
- Stephane Robidas
There's also a couple of younger guys that played in the very last game of the season that are signed on for next season: Scott Glennie and Brenden Dillon. If those two make the roster for next year, these 15 guys would take up roughly $43 million in cap space. That leaves somewhere between $20-$25 million of cap space for next season, depending on whether or not the cap moves up (There is still a tricky CBA issue to get around for the NHL). That number will take a big dent because I'm sure that Jamie Benn will get a big deal and there are still a good amount of free agents on Dallas that can provide some good production for the Stars.
Now the question is will all of these folks be on the roster at the start of next season? In my opinion, all but four of these players should be here for sure. The Stars should take a hard look at sending Morrow, Ribeiro, Pardy and Robidas packing. Morrow and Ribeiro are making a ton of money ($4.1 million and $5 million respectively), money that can be spent towards free agents that actually provide a difference to this team.
Morrow dealt with an injury plagued season and is on a clear downside (it might be a sheer cliff) of his career. He's not in a position to be more than a third or fourth liner and it's a travesty that he played most of his time this year on the top lines. There are guys that can take his spot next season (Reilly Smith, Vincour or even Ryan Garbutt if he keeps progressing) and the captain patch should go to Ott or Benn. As much as it might hurt to see the captain sent off, it's the right thing to do. His time is up in Dallas.
Ribeiro is tricky because he is a valuable piece to the team. He was tied for second on the team in points with 63 (though that probably should have been much more considering he was top line) and the Stars have no real replacement waiting in the wings. He is making a substantial amount of money for next season though with the $5 million cap hit and Ribeiro has an odd ability to disappear at the most inopportune times. He's pretty much absent in huge games, a big problem considering his position on the team and who he plays with. Dallas needs to shop him around this offseason and see if there are any takers out there for a guy that can produce, just not when you need him to.
Adam Pardy was just plain bad and has a big cap hit ($2 million) considering what he gives on the ice as a third pair defenseman (though he really should be eighth in the pecking order). It might be better to just release him, especially with someone like Brenden Dillon waiting to make his mark on the team. Robidas has just reached the point in his career where everything has passed him by. He can't keep up with forwards anymore and is really starting to get outmuscled for the puck and in front of the net. He's taking up space on the power play unit and the Stars have excellent talent waiting in the AHL that should be up here by 2013-2014 if not by late next season. I've always liked Robidas for his toughness but that can only get you so far and he's no longer up to his first d-pairing duties.
If nothing else, these four guys need to go so Dallas can re-sign their own valuable (and young) free agents and still make a splash in the offseason with signing other guys. Moving these four frees up $14.4 million in cap room.
Restricted Free Agents:
- Jamie Benn
- Richard Bachman
- Philip Larsen
- Mark Fistric
- Jordie Benn
- Ryan Garbutt
- Tom Wandell
This really should be a no brainer for a majority of these guys. Jamie Benn, Bachman, Larsen and Fistric should easily get new contracts with this team. Garbutt has shown enough this season that he should also stick with this team and Wandell plays a valuable late centering role. Jordie can easily fill the role that Adam Pardy played this season or get some extra time. He showed some flashes while he was with this team and actually provided an offensive spark with two assists in his three games (one behind Pardy, who played 36 games). He was also a pretty solid defender and worked hard along the boards. No reason why Dallas shouldn't keep him.
There's one interesting player at the AHL level that is also a RFA: Colton Sceviour. The 22-year-old puts up some good numbers at the AHL level and he deserves to get a look at the NHL level. He's a valuable prospect in the organization and can fill a spot that someone like Toby Peterson or Adam Burish had and probably pack a little more scoring punch.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
- Sheldon Souray
- Jake Dowell
- Adam Burish
- Toby Peterson
- Radek Dvorak
Only Souray and Dvorak should really get a look at coming back to this team. There are younger better options than Peterson, Dowell and Burish. Souray was a physical presence on the backline and his wonderbomb is much loved in the Dallas area. If Dallas can get him back here on the cheap side, do it. Dvorak is a huge piece to this team's penalty kill and gives Jamie Benn freedom to stay on five-on-five situations. He has a good chemistry with Fiddler and Nystrom so I wouldn't complain at all if he comes back to this team.
Down in the AHL level, there's Francis Wathier as a free agent. He's gotten a few looks with Dallas in the past couple of years and I would expect Dallas to re-sign him and give him some more chances next year. Andrew Raycroft is also a free agent, but AHAHAHAHAHA no, just no.
There's my plan for the guys that are currently on the Stars team. Dallas should be able to get rid of dead weight and have enough money to re-sign their own guys and make themselves a player in free agency if they follow a plan like this. They have to release some of their bigger contracts if they even hope to make a big change in this team.
A look at free agency around the league is next up in the works.
Cap numbers from the great CapGeek.