This morning in Frisco, TX, the Dallas Stars will gather for one last time this season. They'll clean out their lockers and they'll share some last meetings and conversations. Joe Nieuwendyk will address the media and talk about the season as a whole and the coming off-season. Some players will give quotes about how disappointed they are and try to shed some light on why things didn't work out.
Hidden injuries will come out, their exit-physicals will be done. Some may need a minor surgery here or there. Some may go play in the World Championships (Benn? Goligoski?), though we hope not, and some will leave that place wondering if they're ever going to return.
Then most of them will be on the next plane to "anywhere but here", but the soul searching and heartache will continue for them as it does for us as we soldier on here in the blogosphere.
As we start the summer-long business of trying to sort just what did happen this season and what exactly is going to happen next season, it's important to take stock of what they have going forward. An inventory, if you will. Let's see what the roster looks like already for next season, where the dollars are allotted and how the cap number shakes out.
This team has a good core of players and most every key component is returning next year already. The real question is this: Are the financial confines of the last two off-seasons going to continue to tie one arm (or both) behind Joe Nieuwendyk's back?
Let's check out the salary and cap hit charts...
Continued after the jump
|'11-'12 Salary||'11-'12 Cap Hit|
*The cap hit number includes Sean Avery's lingering legacy (approx $2M). 2011-2012 will be the last year that's on the Stars books. I did NOT include that in that in the salary, because it appears as though the Stars haven't considered that a part of their $45~ million budget these last two seasons.
So what we have here is ten forwards, five defensemen (six if you count Larsen, who could make the roster at a pretty negligible price) and two goaltenders. That's almost all of it, but the roster, as with each individual game, depends on every last little piece of the puzzle. The details.
You might look at what the cap hit is, look at the fact that salary cap will likely go up to somewhere near $62 million next season and say "Hey! We've got $23 MILLION to play with! Par-tay!" and then you'd give Brad Richards $8M a year and you'd sign Shea Weber to a $7 million offer sheet to steal him away from the Preds (at a ridiculous cost of draft picks) and you'd consider your team beastly headed into next year, right?
Except life isn't a video game and neither of those things is going to happen.
We'll discuss Brad Richards at great length, many times, but the prevailing opinion out there is that he won't be coming back, for whatever reason, and Razor even said as much on the Sunday broadcast. We'll hold out hope at DBD, but it's likely a fools hope.
Just like last season, the budget might be $45 Million going forward
That $38.8 million number on the salaries is pretty damned scary when you consider the possibility that the team will likely be on "a budget" again next year. Even if someone were to buy the team tomorrow the finances would take a long time to get sorted out and you don't just go throwing money around like a drunk sailor right away.
If "$45 Million" is the number again, then the Stars have only about six million to play with and they need to add two or three forwards and two defensemen. Those would be very budget players indeed.
There are a lot of pieces to like love on the Stars roster. We absolutely love a lot of it, but that's not enough, evidently. They'll need help at center to replace what Brad Richards may take with him and they'll need to find something to balance their scoring. Because Jamie Benn can make the move to center, that help could be in the form of a winger and that might be alright.
The defense is going to change this off-season, unlike the last, and we already like what we see from Alex Goligoski. Still a decision needs to be made on Skrastins, who does a lot of really important things for this defense and should they decide to pass or he decide to retire then that becomes a priority.
With no money to play the ridiculous game that is July 1st, the Stars would likely be stuck digging through the scrap heap on the 3rd or 4th.
Someone could buy this team now and decide that, even though they'll be sure to lose money on the team for the first couple of season, it would be better to invest up front, get some players in here, get back to the playoffs and salvage some relevancy in this town, particularly in light of possible NFL and NBA work stoppages that could shine a spotlight on the hockey team. (<-- Now that's a run-on sentence.)
Wouldn't that be nice?
Those are two very, very different scenarios with big, wide chasms between potential payroll numbers. Either way, it's going to be an interesting summer and yet another impossible challenge for Joe Nieuwendyk to face, because the flip side is that an owner comes in here and says "Yeah, spend to the cap" and Joe looks at the UFA pool out there and sees all the garbage in it. He could actually end up with a pocket full of money and nothing (good) to spend it on. Keep that scenario in the back of your mind.
Last season Joe told the media on this day (the day the lockers get cleaned out in Frisco) that he was operating under the assumption that $45 million would be the number going forward.
We'll hope to hear something different today, but optimism in this scenario is...shall we say, "contraindicated."