The Dallas Stars continue to make quick work of some minor deals, this time signing Riley Tufte to a one-year, two-way contract extension. The young forward was set to be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent this summer.
This contract follows similar pacts with Ryan Shea and Joseph Cecconi over the last few days, moves that assured the depth of the organization will continue through next season. Unlike the other two though, Tufte was selected in the first round six years ago and hasn’t quite reached the level that the Stars had hoped for at this point.
Standing 6’6″ with a reach that seems to extend the entire rink, the Minnesota native was a force in college, winning two consecutive national championships with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. There were few players at that level who could knock him off the puck, and he fit in well with a team that was always on top of you, grinding the puck in the corner or laying big hits.
The offense hasn’t really shown up at the professional level though, with just 44 points in 143 AHL games. Tufte made his NHL debut this year and scored one goal in ten games, though it is still unclear where exactly he fits into the long-term plan.
Because of his age, he will actually qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency next summer, should he fail to play in 70 games this season. While there’s certainly a chance he locks down a bottom-six role and plays that many, it’s no guarantee. One thing helping him out is that in order to send him to the minor leagues, Tufte would now need to clear waivers. His size and draft pedigree would likely be of interest to some teams, meaning the Stars might be forced to keep him in the NHL or risk losing him for nothing.