Free agency is now less than two weeks away from opening up and there are quite a few prominent players set to hit the open market while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. Dallas has a few pricey contracts coming off their books and only a few RFAs needing new deals. Here’s a closer look at their free agent situation.
Key Restricted Free Agents: F Jason Dickinson – After being up and down in 2017-18, the 23-year-old locked down a regular role in their bottom six and held his own while chipping in with 22 points in the regular season and five more in the playoffs. Dickinson is owed a qualifying offer of just under $920K and it shouldn’t take much more than that to get him under contract even though he is eligible for salary arbitration.
D Julius Honka – It wasn’t that long ago that he was viewed as an important building block for their back end. However, Honka hasn’t lived up to his potential. He was in the doghouse for most of the season and when he did get into the lineup, he didn’t see a lot of playing time and didn’t make much of it. At 23, there is still the hope that there’s some upside and that should be enough to secure him a qualifying offer of just over $874K. Even with that though, that may come primarily to give them the option to trade him down the road.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F Mats Zuccarello – He didn’t get much of a chance to make an impression in the regular season as he was injured in his first game with Dallas after being acquired. However, he returned for the playoffs and tied for the team lead in scoring. Zuccarello will be 32 at the start of next season so he should have a few good years left in him and should draw considerable interest on the open market as one of the more consistent wingers available. Unfortunately for Dallas, if they wind up re-signing him, they will have to part with a first-round pick (instead of a third rounder) as part of the trade to bring him in from the Rangers. Zuccarello has indicated that he wants to see what his options are so we’ll see over the next week if he decides to circle back or not.
F Jason Spezza – While Spezza was once a key cog for the Stars, he has seen his production tail off considerably the last two seasons as his career starts to wind up. At 36, he’s now subject to 35+ contract rules so he will likely be going year-to-year moving forward. A team thinking that a change of scenery could lead to a short-term resurgence will give him a look but he’ll have to take a significant pay cut from the $7.5MM he has made in each of the last four years.
D Ben Lovejoy – The veteran blueliner was added to give the Stars some stability on the back end for the postseason and there will undoubtedly be teams that will be looking to free agency to try to get him to do that for them. His best days are behind him but he can still help a third pairing for another year or two but will also probably be looking at a dip in pay from his previous $2.67MM AAV.
Projected Cap Space: The Stars have a little less than $10MM in cap room under the $81.5MM Upper Limit, per CapFriendly. Their RFAs won’t cost too much to keep around so GM Jim Nill will have some room to go shopping on the open market. Whether that money is spent on Zuccarello or another player remains to be seen.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.