The Dallas Stars have rewarded one of their depth defensemen with a two-year contract extension, signing Joel Hanley through the 2022-23 season. Hanley was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but has now inked a two-year, $1.5MM ($750K AAV) deal with the team he has spent the last three seasons with.
Hanley, 29, hadn’t come close to becoming a regular at the NHL level before recently, with just 46 games played through the end of the 2019-20 season. Then he played 12 times for the Stars in the postseason bubble and has returned as a semi-regular this season. In 24 games he has four points (all assists, as he still looks for his first career regular season goal) but has been a useful depth option for the Stars, eating around 12 minutes a game without issue.
That depth role isn’t likely to increase with this contract, but it does keep him in the organization as a valuable piece for just a little more than the league minimum. Should he play three more games this season, he’ll also fill the Stars exposure requirements for the upcoming expansion draft. Up until now, only Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, and Andrej Sekera had played enough games and were also signed through 2022, meaning at least one of them would have to be exposed to the Seattle Kraken. Signing Hanley gives the team a little bit more flexibility in that respect since Lindell and Klingberg are obvious choices for protection along with Miro Heiskanen.
While the deal may have some added expansion draft benefits, it’s really about how well Hanley has developed into a part-time NHL player. Undrafted, he spent four seasons at UMass-Amherst before grinding away in the minor leagues for years. A two-year deal is a nice reward for a player that has always been ready when his number was called.