The free agent period is now less than a week away from opening up. Several prominent players are set to hit the open market and many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. Here is a breakdown of the Dallas Stars’ free agent situation.
Key Restricted Free Agents: D Esa Lindell. The 23-year-old has only played one full year in the NHL, but has quickly established himself as a top-four blueliner and now already needs to get paid. While Dallas is looking into acquiring a top defenseman such as Washington’s Karl Alzner, Lindell is already inked into the lineup and the young defender should only get better with experience. His six goals and 12 assists may just be the beginning. His AAV of $925,000 should go up quite a bit.
F Radek Faksa. With the disappearance of several key veterans like Cody Eakin and Patrick Eaves, among others, there are numerous holes in the Stars’ lineup and locking up Faksa should be a top priority for the franchise. Faksa, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, completed his first full season with the Stars this year, finishing with 12 goals and 21 assists, while playing on the team’s third line. Making $1.34MM last year, Faksa should get a solid raise.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F Patrick Sharp. The veteran winger is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he missed time due to a concussion and then had season-ending hip surgery in March. Because of that, Sharp, a four-time 30-goal scorer finished with eight goals and 10 assists in 48 games. While at 35 years old, no one is expecting a 30-goal season, Sharp could still be good for 15-20 goals. The Stars, needing to fill holes at the forward position, have shown interest in bringing him back. While it’s highly doubtful, he’d be able to get the $5.9MM contract he had last year, he still could receive a solid offer from a team needing a veteran scorer.
Ales Hemsky: The 33-year-old veteran is also coming off multiple injuries in which he missed more than four months of play due to hip and groin injuries. The veteran center only managed to get into 15 games for seven points. However, he had 13 goals and 39 points one year ago and could be worthy of bringing back on a short-term deal to fill a bottom line slot. While Hemsky made $4MM last year, he may need to take a low-level “prove it” offer.
Projected Cap Space: The Stars have $52.5MM invested in 15 players, so they will have to fill in multiple holes with the remaining $22.5MM in available cap space, although they have several restricted free agents they need to re-sign. However, assuming Dallas buys out goaltender Antti Niemi, the team should have even more room to work with. The Stars have high hopes to sign a top free agent such as Alzner to their defense. However, the team may also add some veterans on shorter-term deals to plug the holes for another year.