[This article was written before the Aaron Rome contract was announced.]
The Dallas Stars, like most teams around the NHL, were much quieter and reserved on the first day of free agency when many were wanting the team to be aggressive in improving the team. The landscape around the NHL right now, with a weak crop of free agents and the impending CBA negotiations, has apparently hindered the "frenzy" that everyone expects when free agency begins each season.
The Dallas Stars did sign Ray Whitney and as the day progressed, the thought has been that the Stars were waiting -- along with everyone else -- for the dam to break on the second-tier of free agents that the Stars could be focused on. Joe Nieuwendyk took some time away from the phones to talk to the media, and made some very interesting comments about the process the Stars are going through during what is obviously now a rebuilding mode for the team.
"We've been trying to do some things, we've been in on some things and we're still continuing to work in there and improve our team," said Joe Nieuwendyk. "It's only day one and there's lots of days ahead, too."
It's been a relatively slow day across the NHL, with most of the focus on where Ryan Suter and Zach Parise will land. Nieuwendyk made it clear that teams are going to be patient in the current market and not rush on these contracts -- especially the longer-term contracts.
"I think the board is a little skinnier than it was a year ago," Nieuwendyk said, when asked about the slow negotiations. "I also think, that with a lot of uncertainty, teams feel they have time during the course of the summer and possibly into the fall. We're happy with our acquisition and we're continuing to try to do things to improve our hockey club and move forward."
More after the jump, including a very revealing revelation by Nieuwendyk about a certain free agent.
"I can tell you we made a significant offer on Parise, but it seems they are going in a different direction...as they've notified us," Nieuwendyk said when asked about Parise. "Clearly, Zach is the type of player that garners a lot of attention. We are in on some of the other players as well; it's not an ideal situation, the longer-term deals, but I think every player is different."
The Dallas Stars making an offer on Parise was not that surprising, nor was the revelation they were turned down. It does show that the team is at least willing to put themselves in the conversation with the top free agents -- if only there were more than a few top free agents to chose from.
Nieuwendyk would continue, saying the despite the lack of action by the Stars they were certainly focused on several players they felt could improve the team. He also made it clear that the Stars were far from finished, saying that they are going to be patient about adding to the team -- whether that is through free agency or trades.
What is clear is that the Stars are forming a plan for the future, to focus on the young players and prospects and to use free agency to help the team bridge the gap between now and when the young players are ready.
"When you think about what we've done already, trading Ribeiro for Cody Eakin and a second-round pick...We've added Ray Whitney," Nieuwendyk said when asked about the future. "We have plans to incorporate some younger players and that's where we've been headed with all of this. I think it makes sense for us to add some of these bridge guys that can help facillitate our young players -- Ray Whitney is one of those guys.
"We're going to try and incorporate Brenden Dillon and get him going. We have some young guys that are coming into our lineup. A guy like Ray Whitney is really going to help those guys."
When asked whether the focus on someone like Dillon would keep the Stars from adding defensemen, Nieuwendyk was very clear with his answer:
"Not necessarily, no."