According to Mark Stepneski over at Andrew's Stars Page (at ESPN), the Dallas Stars have re-signed center Aaron Gagnon to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $600,000 next season if he plays in the NHL. If he's in the AHL, it's just a measley $85,000.
Gagnon is the first restricted free agent to be re-signed by the Stars, after having a breakout season down in Austin for the Texas Stars.
Gagnon is a former late-round draft pick by the Phoenix Coyotes, and was signed to a three-year contract by the Stars back in February of 2007. He was a star in the WHL, playing six seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds before making the jump to the ECHL.
I've always held out a bit of hope for Gagnon, as he was one heck of a playmaker in the WHL. But he struggled in two straight seasons in the ECHL (Idaho Steelheads) and the AHL (Grand Rapids Griffons) and it seemed as though he was just another decent junior hockey player that could never exceed at the next level.
He certainly broke out last season, however, with 27 goals and 58 points for the Texas Stars, not including eight goals in the playoffs. He became a leader on the team, and finally he showed the playmaking skill he flashed in the WHL.
He appeared in two games for the Stars last season, logging around nine minutes per game but winning the majority of the faceoffs he took. He's still just 24, and can still enjoy some success in the NHL if given the chance. He's never going to be a top-six forward, but he could certainly be a decent depth forward on the third or fourth line somewhere down the road. The Stars are a bit stacked at center right now, but his signing is not only good for Dallas for depth this season but great news for the Texas Stars as well.