NHL Free Agency starts next week

Just three days after the draft, NHL free agency starts on July 1st next week. The Stars have a number of players scheduled to hit the open market and right now none of the unrestricted free agents have been offered a new contract by the team. Here's the full list:

Player Pos 2008-2009 Type
Sergei Zubov D 5,350,000 UFA
Jere Lehtinen RW 4,000,000 UFA
Brendan Morrison C 2,750,000 UFA
Darryl Sydor D 2,500,000 UFA
Steve Begin C 1,057,000 UFA
Mark Fistric D 788,889 RFA
Joel Lundqvist C 725,000 UFA
Landon Wilson RW 550,000 UFA
Aaron Gagnon C 625,000 RFA
John Lammers LW 618,333 RFA
Chris Conner RW 500,000 RFA
Mark Parrish RW 500,000 UFA
Tobias Stephan G 485,000 RFA

Mark Fistric is most likely the only player on this list to definitely get tendered an offer. Chris Conner should as well and most likely Landon Wilson. Joel Lundqvist has already made it known the Stars won't be offering him a contract and it's almost a certainty that Tobias Stephan won't either. It's wait and see with the rest.

Joe Nieuwendyk hs said that he hopes to speak with the agents for Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov during this weekend's draft and see what it would take to keep sign them. Mike Heika believes the Stars will make a low offer that will be refused by both sides, and I tend to agree. Lehtinen has said several times he wants to remain with the Stars and I believe that in the end he'll sign a one year deal worth $1.25 - 2 million. The key will be if he can remain healthy to justify that contract.

The Stars will be on a very limited budget this season, one that will be far below the salary cap and most likely lower than they have had in a very long time. If Tom Hicks is successful in selling the Texas Rangers this could change, but as of now the Stars don't have a lot of money to work with.

The Stars will still be active in the open market but don't expect any fireworks on the first day. No matter what happens in the draft this weekend, the Stars need depth on defense and need someone who can come in and be a top four defenseman. Ivan Vishnevskiy will be making the transtition to the NHL this season, but this team showed last season how much it needs a skilled veteran anchoring the blue line. Darryl Sydor was a spark in the middle of the season but he is far from what he used to be.

Dallas will also be keeping its eye on goaltenders. While the Stars have a good chance in signing Jonas Gustavsson it's not a sure bet. The Stars will have to sign a veteran backup for Marty Turco, with Richard Bachman and Matt Climie getting important playing time in the minors.There are a number of decent, 15-20 game goalies available this summer (Kevin Weekes, Brian Boucher, Craig Anderson,  so the Stars shouldn't have much trouble in finding a suitable backup.

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