The Wait Is Over: Stars Sign James Neal and Matt Niskanen To Deals

Update: Further analysis here.

Well, thank goodness that's over. A few minutes ago, the Dallas Stars announced they have signed forwards James Neal and Matt Niskanen to two-year contracts, bringing the long summer of anxiety to an end. 

Neal's contract is $5.75 million, and he will earn $2.25 million the first year and $3.5 million the second year. This is obviously a bridge contract, as Joe would want to sign Neal to a longer deal once new ownership was in place. You'll remember that Mike Heika reported a couple weeks ago that the Stars likely offered Neal $2 million the first year and $3 million the second year, and that the Stars likely would not budge from that. As it turned out, Heika was correct. 

Niskanen's contract is $3 million, with $1.25 the first year and $1.75 the second year. With the two signings, every Dallas Star is under contract as training camp begins tomorrow. 

Here's a past DBD article speculating whether James Neal's contract talks artificially raised expectations.

Press release after the jump.....

 

Frisco, Tex. - Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced today that the NHL club has agreed to terms with left wing James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen each on two-year contracts. Neal's contract averages $2.875 million per year ($2.25 million + $3.5 million) while Niskanen's deal averages $1.5 million ($1.25 million + $1.75 million).

Neal, 23, is entering his third year in the NHL. He appeared in 78 games for the Stars last season, scoring 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points. The 27 goals ranked second on Dallas while his 55 points ranked third. Neal became the first Stars rookie to score 20-or-more goals since the team moved to Texas when he scored 24 in 2008-09. He was Dallas' second round pick (33rd overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Niskanen, 23, is entering his fourth year in the NHL. He appeared in 74 games for the Stars last year, scoring three goals and 12 assists for 15 points. Niskanen led all Stars defensemen in scoring in 2008-09 with six goals and 29 assists for 35 points. He was Dallas' first round pick (28th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The Stars open up their 2010 Training Camp this weekend in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. All players will now be under contract in time for camp. The team will host its first pre-season game this Tuesday, Sept. 21, vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning at American Airlines Center.

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