The Dallas Stars are bringing back a pair of restricted free agent forwards. The team has announced a five-year, 16.25MM extension with Radek Faksa. They have also revealed a new two-year, two-way contract with Joel L’Esperance, expected to be worth his qualifying offer of $725K at the NHL level.
There was some skepticism that Faksa would receive a long-term deal and significant raise this off-season, but that is exactly what he got. Playing on a $2.2MM AAV for the past three years, Faksa has failed to surpass his point total from the year prior to signing his previous extension. The 2019-20 campaign was especially disappointing, as Faksa recorded just 20 points after totaling 30 points or more in each of his three full NHL seasons. The two-way center also saw his defensive effectiveness slip this past season. Yet, none of this seems to matter. Faksa is still a useful player and Dallas was happy to keep him around, no matter the cost. Faksa is locked in to five more years with Dallas and will count for more than $1MM more against the cap with his new $3.25MM AAV.
While he’s a helpful two-way presence, handing Faksa a raise that his statistics don’t necessarily back up could come back to bite the Stars. The team still needs to re-sign RFA forwards Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz, both of whom absolutely proved that they are top-six players deserving of significant contracts. However, they only have about $6.66MM in cap space remaining and Gurianov and Hintz alone would not fill out the roster. The Stars likely needed to get creative with the cap this off-season anyhow, but the pressure is now on to figure out their roster – before Gurianov or Hintz receive an offer sheet.
L’Esperance could be an affordable option to take on a roster spot for the cap-strapped club. The young center has played in 21 games with Dallas over the past two seasons and has been a productive player for AHL Texas. While he has yet to make much of an offensive impact in the NHL, experience and affordability could lead to opportunity for L’Esperance.