Dallas Stars Payroll Picture Coming Into Focus With Recent Extensions

Since the doldrums of last off-season, we have been trying to figure out how Joe Nieuwendyk can possibly improve this team under the budgetary constraints placed on him by Tom Hicks and HSG that prevents them from spend to anywhere near the cap.

The more we looked (like here: "Will Dallas Stars Be Able to Keep Their Young Talent?") the more the question shifted from "How can he improve it?" to "How can he even afford to keep the young RFA's the team has developed and ice a team next year?"

We now have several more pieces of the puzzle that we did not have last August when those discussions became hot and heavy:

(The important thing to remember when having a conversation about Dallas Stars payroll, is that unlike other teams' conversations, we do not care in the least about cap hits. We talk about real payroll dollars)

  • Stephane Robidas contract extension in October. His cap number is $3.3 million, but his salary next season is only $3.25 million.
  • Loui Eriksson extended in October. His cap number is $4.267 million, but the first year of the deal (next season) is only $3.2 million.
  • Steve Ott's contract does the same thing...

Follow the jump for a detailed look at the entire budgetary picture for 2010-2011...

  • Steve Ott's deal is a $2.95 million cap hit, but his first year on the deal only pays $2.1 million.
  • Toby Petersen extended yesterday. His salary next year is $750k next season, then goes up to $800k the next.
  • Same thing with Tom Wandell, extended last week. $700k next year, $850 the year after that.

Every single deal is back-loaded, which, let's face it, might be a bad thing for 2011-2012, but that's not our main concern at the moment. All those projections and guess we were doing were based on average value of the deals, and we were right on the money with some of those guesses. What Gm Joe has done in back-loading them, is he's given himself breathing room to come into next season with a team at least as good as the one he has now, without losing his RFA's.

Here's where they now stand for 2010-2011:

  2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012
FORWARDS
Brad Richards " $7,800,000 $7,800,000 UFA
Mike Ribeiro " $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Brenden Morrow " $4,100,000 $4,100,000 $4,100,000
Mike Modano " $2,250,000 UFA
 
Jere Lehtinen " $1,500,000 UFA  
Tom Wandell $560,000 $700,000
$850,000
Loui Eriksson " $1,700,000 $3,200,000
$4,200,000
Steve Ott " $1,500,000 $2,100,000 $3,300,000
James Neal " $720,000 RFA

Jamie Benn
$585,000 $635,000 $670,000
Brian Sutherby " $812,500 $812,500 UFA
Krys Barch " $575,000 UFA
 
Toby Petersen " $550,000 $750,000 $800,000
Brandon Segal
$550,000 $550,000
UFA
DEFENSEMEN
Trevor Daley " $2,300,000 $2,500,000 UFA
Stephane Robidas " $1,500,000 $3,250,000
$3,550,000
Karlis Skrastins " $1,100,000 $1,650,000 UFA
Mark Fistric " $750,000 $1,000,000 $1,250,000
Nicklas Grossman " $1,050,000 RFA

Matt Niskanen " $805,000 RFA
 
Jeff Woywitka " $600,000 $700,000 UFA
Mystery D-Man/Spare Fill in

 
GOALTENDERS
Kari Lethonen
RFA
 
Backup

 

 

Which is to say that they have 5 defensemen, 10 forwards and 0 goaltenders signed for around $35 million dollars. (Jamie Benn has a bonus you have to throw in there too. His real payroll number is closer to $850k.) And you can count the Sean Avery money if you want ($1.9375). I've heard they do, I've heard they don't. I don't want to count it today.

I don't want anything to do with the bastard guy.

So that leaves you with ~10 million to sign James Neal, Nick Grossman, Kari Lethonen, a backup, Jere Lehtinen perhaps? Mike Modano perhaps? And some help on defense, or at least a replacement for Matt Niskanen. (Or, Matt Niskanen)

The following is my conjecture on how it could play out, assuming no trades are made and no big defensive help/contract is acquired. This is just a guess. Probably a bad one:

 

  2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012
FORWARDS
Brad Richards " $7,800,000 $7,800,000 UFA
Mike Ribeiro " $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Brenden Morrow " $4,100,000 $4,100,000 $4,100,000
Mike Modano " $2,250,000 Gone? :(  
Jere Lehtinen " $1,500,000 $1,500,000*  
Tom Wandell $560,000 $700,000
$850,000
Loui Eriksson " $1,700,000 $3,200,000
$4,200,000
Steve Ott " $1,500,000 $2,100,000 $3,300,000
James Neal " $720,000 $3,200,000*

Jamie Benn
$585,000 $635,000 $670,000
Brian Sutherby " $812,500 $812,500 UFA
Krys Barch " $575,000 $700,000*  
Toby Petersen " $550,000 $700,000 $850,000
Brandon Segal
$550,000 $550,000
UFA
DEFENSEMEN
Trevor Daley " $2,300,000 $2,500,000 UFA
Stephane Robidas " $1,500,000 $3,250,000
$3,550,000
Karlis Skrastins " $1,100,000 $1,650,000 UFA
Mark Fistric " $750,000 $1,000,000 $1,250,000
Nicklas Grossman " $1,050,000 $2,000,000*
Increasing
Matt Niskanen " $805,000 RFA  
Jeff Woywitka " $600,000 $700,000 UFA
Mystery D-Man/Spare Fill in
$850,000+/-
 
GOALTENDERS
Kari Lethonen
$3,000,000*
 
Backup $1,000,000*

 

 

The Neal and Grossman deals, I am guessing, will be structured like the rest of Joe's deals: Increasing and/or back-loaded as they go along. This gives Hicks time to get the hell out of dodge, so to speak, and Crawford can ice an at least semi-competitive team next year in the mean time.

The bottom line on that little scenario, which is basically exactly what we have now minus Mike Modano: $46.9475 million dollars, which is pretty darned close to their stated internal budget of $45 million.

Obviously this is not ideal. To bring the same team back a third year in a row and expect anything different to happen is by definition, insanity. There could be trades. There could be surprises. We just don't know.

The point is this: That Nieuwendyk has maneuvered his way to this scenario becoming a plausible one is not entirely unimpressive. He's managing this horrible situation pretty well so far, in my opinion. Which doesn't count for anything. (Sorry Joe.)

What say you? Are you impressed? Are you surprised? Indifferent? Or are you one of these "I want this mythological, young, puck moving d-man to anchor the team or it just doesn't matter!!" kinds of people?

And in case anyone's wondering: I didn't forget about Brunnstrom. He's just not there.

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