2012 NHL Free Agency Final Thoughts: What To Expect From Dallas Stars

Mar 27, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison (52) before the first period against Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

It's finally here, the day that Dallas Stars fans have been anticipating for years now it seems. A motivated and passionate owner is in charge and GM Joe Nieuwendyk apparently has a full arsenal with which to move forward and continue to build this hockey team. After four years for massive frustration and stagnation, this summer has been a massive breath of fresh air as hope and optimism can finally be considered when discussing the future of the team.

With the Stars finally having the financial capability of entering the free agency market with the same ammunition as most of the rest of the NHL, fans are in high anticipation of the exciting prospect of the Stars finally landing some big fish in the free agency sea.

Unfortunately, this year's free agency market is akin to having hundreds of thousands to spend on Christmas for your kids but your only shopping option is a Walmart that has been picked over in a post-apocalyptic frenzy. The Stars may be willing to spend to build this team but the available options certainly aren't that shiny.

There's no telling what to really expect from the Dallas Stars today but if the past is any indication, Joe Nieuwendyk will approach today with a cautious mind. He knows that being too aggressive and spending just because he can is something that hurt this franchise dearly in the long run. He's focused not just on this season but the future as well. While I expect the Stars to be in the conversation for the top free agents on the market, don't be surprised to see them quickly bow out if the numbers become too astronomical -- which is a very distinct possibility.

More thoughts after the jump.

  • Someone asked me what my ideal free agency haul would look like. Here it goes: Olli Jokinen, Peter Mueller, Jason Garrison, Ryan Shannon.
  • For those wanting the Stars to make a big free agent signing because they want to see tangible evidence that the front office is committed to winning and improvement, expect such a signing to be very expensive. Jason Garrison is a player that I would love for the Stars to sign as he is exactly the sort of player that can help both short and long-term. Yet he's likely to receive a contract around 5 years and $30 million -- especially after Dennis Wideman set the standard for this year's market. We've said all summer that Garrison is more than worth $5 million a year -- is he worth $6 million?
  • There's also the fact that the Stars need more than just one or two big name free agents. Zach Parise is a player that would be more than capable of being a revered superstar in Dallas, but his potential contract could put further restrictions on what the Stars are attempting to do for the future. Zach Parise, Ryan Suter -- both would be great additions to this team but would their contracts be more of a hindrance than a help?
  • Don't be surprised if Shane Doan is wearing a Stars jersey this season.
  • I saw this mentioned in the comments yesterday and I thought it was a very astute observation: the Dallas Stars of today are very similar to the Philadelphia Flyers of 2007-2008. A team with a few good pieces in place but still a few years away from true contention. The Flyers were patient and while they made a few questionable trades along the way, they've been one of the top teams in the NHL the past few seasons and came just short of the Stanley Cup in 2010. The Flyers were helped with the #2 overall pick in 2007, but if the Stars are patient and don't get greedy this franchise could be on a very similar path.
  • The mantra for all Dallas Stars fans today: "Don't be Buffalo, don't be Buffalo, don't be Buffalo."
  • There are two factions amongst Stars fans right now. There are those that want to see the Stars be exceptionally aggressive in free agency and those that want to see the Stars pass over "stop gap" options and play most of the young prospects this season. The reality is somewhere in between. No matter what the CBA may look like next season, the Stars will at least have to hit the cap floor again. Free agents will have to be signed, and if the Stars fans want to win at least 30 games -- the Stars need more than Ott, Eakin and Fiddler at center.
  • That being said, I understand the approach. If the Stars can't get the big free agents and see a massive improvement next season, why not play the kids and get them valuable NHL experience and then take advantage of a very high draft pick next summer in a very deep draft? The problem with this is that the Stars are in a very tough place, coming off of four years with no playoffs and now have an owner that is trying to prove to a fanbase that he's committed to improvement and winning. It's a very hard place to be in right now for the front office.
  • Finally, all I ask for is patience. No matter what happens today, there will be Dallas Stars fans that are angry and frustrated. It's just the nature of how the situation is working out right now. The important thing to remember is that the process is far from over after the dust settles this afternoon. Trades are still a possibility and there's no telling what could happen in training camp; perhaps the Stars find a good balance between the two opposite approaches fans are dreaming of.
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