Like we wrote about yesterday, the Dallas Stars have been expectantly quiet thus far in free agency and are going to stay that way. Yet despite a this "hold" on any further action, there are still some points of interest to pay attention to over the holiday weekend that should have some closure come Monday.
Jonas Gustavsson and the backup goaltender situation.
The Toronto Sun reported yesterday that Brian Burke returned from Europe with the news that Gustavsson was going to wait another day or so to make his final decision. Stars fans are getting a bit anxious at this point and some have questioned whether this is a bad sign about his character and selfishness (I might have had those thoughts as well). I think if we all sit back for a moment we can realize just how tough a decision is for him. Just think how long it takes some college recruits to decide. He's most likely never had to make a choice like this before, plus you have to factor in he's still reeling from the passing of his mother. That being said, a decision soon would be nice.
Follow the jump for the top goaltender free agents remaining, and a look at the other issues still remaining for the Stars.
Manny Fernandez, 34, Bos, $4.75m
Martin Gerber, 34, Tor, $3.7m
Martin Biron, 31, Phi, $3.5m
Manny Legacé, 36, StL, $2.5m
Olaf Kolzig, 39, Tor, $1.5m
Antero Niittymaki, 29, Phi, $1.375m
Brent Johnson, 32, Wsh, $825,000
Andrew Raycroft, 29, Col, $800,000
Curtis Joseph, 42, Tor, $700,000
Kevin Weekes, 34, NJ, $700,000
Personally, I think you can cross Manny Fernandez off the list.
More help on defense?
Yesterday the Stars signed Karlis Skrastins to a two-year contract, an iron man veteran defenseman who's an upgrade over Darryl Sydor but not the big gun we were hoping for. Yet with the Stars still needing a backup goaltender and the team right up against their self-imposed salary cap, can the team do much else in free agency?
Mike Heika over at the DMN Stars blog takes a look at some help that might be available via trade. He brings up some names that have been mentioned in the past, as well as some that haven't. Here's what he had to say about Tomas Kaberle and John-Michael Liles:
Tomas Kaberle _ The Maple Leafs are looking to get tougher and create cap space, and Kaberle is on the market. He is 31, he can play 25 minutes a game, and he has two years left on his contract at $4.25 million. He is pretty much a 50-point guy minimum right now, and he had a breakout year in 2005-06 when he had nine goals and 58 assists for 67 points while logging 28 minutes a night. All in all, the guy is a pretty good skilled defenseman who would fit what the Stars need in terms of budget.
John-Michael Liles _ He's small (5-10) and overpaid ($4.2 million for the next three seasons). He is more of a power play QB (18 minutes a game) than a No. 1 defenseman. But he's probably available if you want him.
He also mentions Mark Streit, Islanders (five years remaining, 4.1 million a year.. 16 goals and 40 assists (10 and 19 on the power play) in 74 games while logging 25 minutes a game), Dion Phaneuf, Calgary (five more years at $6.5 million a year 17 goals and 43 in 07-08), Bryan McCabe (two years left at $5.75 million, 15 goals, 24 assists last season) and Barret Jackman (three years left on his deal at $3.625 million, 4 goals, 17 assists).
Are any of these players worthy of a trade? You'd have to give up salary and some prospects to do so, and I don't think this team is that close to winning it all to be worth trading for any of these defenseman. I'd much rather see the Stars continue to build upon what they have. Or do you believe that the Stars desperately need a big No.1 defenseman not just for now, but for the future as well?
There were rumblings yesterday that St. Louis and the New York Rangers could be interested in signing Zubov. Nieuwendyk has stated that he Zubov to bring any offer back tot he Stars for consideration, but at this point I'm preparing for the departure of a great Dallas Star. Perhaps he is willing to take a pay cut to stick with the team he's been with for so long, but you have to figure there is a team out there willing to pay more than the Stars to sign Zubov. The Stars are looking ahead to the future and it's still doubtful that he is healthy and fully recovered from his hip surgery. They played a hefty price last season for just 10 games, and Dallas will be extremely hesitant to take that risk again.