A look at the Dallas Stars defensemen

First of all, I would like to apologize for some of the inaccuracies in my post last night about the signing of Jeff Woywitka. In my haste to get the news out about his signing and the impact it has on the Dallas Stars defense, I failed to do the proper research into the specifics of each players' contract. I made some assumptions based on prior knowledge, and I wasn't entirely correct in those assumptions.

It is our goal here at Defending Big D to provide only the most accurate information possible and in the future I will ensure that any facts presented have been verified via research of viable resources. Part of the issue with contracts however, is that the exact terms are not readily available anywhere and you can only find salary information for the entire organization on third party sites. That being said, I will still ensure that we only present verified and correct information from now on.

The Dallas Stars have signed two free agent defensemen this week and are expecting for Mark Fistric to sign his offer today. That means the team would have eight defensemen with NHL contracts, including the following.

Trevor Daley " $2,300,000
Stephane Robidas " $1,500,000
Karlis Skrastins " $1,375,000
Nicklas Grossman " $975,000
Matt Niskanen "  EL  $850,000
Jeff Woywitka " $600,000
Andrew Hutchinson " $550,000

For any of these players to play in the AHL next year, either the team would have to pay their full salary in the minors or they would have to pass through waivers first. The Stars tried this last season with B.J. Crombeen and it backfired, as St. Louis picked up the right-handed, right winger off of waivers last season (something the Stars are in desperate need of). I highly doubt the team will even attempt to try the same method again.

Joe Nieuwendyk talked to Mike Heika yesterday about the recent signings and says that the team wants to have the flexibility to not have to play two of the "kids" together. With the addition of Skrastins and Woywitka, the Stars have more options that the did before and now have a chance to allow the younger defensemen to continue to gain experience without the pressure of learning next to another young guy. Last season, Mark Fistric and Nicklas Grossman were paired together the final few months of the season and while it was great to see two big bodies out there together for the Stars, their inexperience brought out the flaws in each other's game.

The Stars have a solid, talented core of young defensemen who all made the jump to the NHL before many expected them to. Because of that it's been a trial by fire situation. Fistric and Niskanen were extremely impressive in 2007-2008 but had veteran like Sergei Zubov, Mattias Norstrom and Philippe Boucher to learn from. Last season the Stars were without the three veterans and the young blue-liners regressed appreciably. After Darryl Sydor was acquired things calmed down a bit, but it's obvious the team feels more comfortable with experienced veterans next to these young players as they continue to gain experience.

So what do the Stars do with eight defensemen? The team could decide to just play Hutchinson or Woywitka in the AHL and pay them their full salaries, knowing they have a solid option in Cedar Park if needed. They've also set themselves up with some pieces for a trade. There's been talk that the Stars could be after a young goaltender if the right deal presents itself and while I doubt they would break up the young defensemen, it's a possibilty that one of the veterans (Robidas or Daley) could be used as value in a trade.

Don't forget the Stars also have Ivan Vishnevskiy waiting in the AHL to prove his worth and make the permanent jump to the NHL. The organization has set him up to become the number one guy for the Texas Stars and since the team is now running their own AHL team, they directly control his development. All of us are eager to unleash him upon the NHL and watch the magic happen, but I am appreciative that the team wants to wait until he is completely ready to take on the challenge.

What would you do with the Stars' defensemen? What trade would you be willing to make? Are you content in this defense as it is now? Let us know in the comments.

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