The Dallas Stars have been working to improve their team this offseason in hopes of getting back to the Stanley Cup Finals once again. However, the team has also had another focus this offseason, which is to free up enough cap room for the 2021-22 offseason when the entry-level contract of defenseman Miro Heiskanen is up and the 21-year-old will be a restricted free-agent who the Stars would like to lock-up long-term.
Heiskanen has been a key reason for the dominant defense that the Stars have used to push their way to the top. The 21-year-old may have only posted 35 points in 68 games last season, but his defense is what makes him special and it is critical to get the blueliner signed to a long-term deal. To free up cap room, the Stars absorbed the full amount of their cap overages ($3.05MM) for next year as opposed to splitting it between the next two years, saving them $1.52MM in cap room for 2021-22 and chose not to buy out any players to keep extra cap penalties away from that year.
Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News writes that assuming the plan is to sign Heiskanen to a long-term deal, it likely will cost them somewhere between $8-9MM if you compare his deal to that of Ottawa Senators’ defenseman Thomas Chabot, who signed his long-term deal a year ago with an $8MM AAV. Now with newer contracts such as Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo and Nashville’s Roman Josi, the market seems set for Heiskanen when the two sides can begin negotiating at the start of the 2020-21 season.
- With the Nashville Predators having moved out quite a few veteran players during the offseason including Mikael Granlund, Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino and Craig Smith, the team looks likely to be forced to insert a number of young players into their lineup to fill it out. While The Athletic’s Adam Vingan (subscription required) writes the team is still working on trying to bring in Mike Hoffman or Anthony Duclair to fill one of those roles, the Predators will be putting quite a bit on the shoulders of Eeli Tolvanen this year. The 2017 first-rounder is a likely candidate to take on a top-six role with the team after sitting in the AHL for the past two seasons. Tolvanen has only appeared in seven NHL games during that time, but after a 21-goal campaign with Milwaukee last season, he is the most likely candidate to step into the lineup, although it isn’t out of the question that 2019 first-rounder Philip Tomasino could also make the team with a strong camp.
- While he hasn’t been loaned out to a European team, newly signed Lucas Wallmark is training overseas with Bjorkloven of the Allsvenskan, who play in his hometown of Umea in Sweden, according to a report in HockeyNews.se (translation required). Wallmark will practice and train with the team until the NHL season starts. The 25-year-old joined his third time in a year after being traded at the trade deadline to the Florida Panthers as part of the Vincent Trocheck trade and then was not issued a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free-agent. He opted to sign with the Blackhawks.