2012-2013 season set to begin on Jan. 19 (and possible on Jan. 15, it seems), the Dallas Stars will be back on the ice for the first time since April 7, 2012. In the final game of the season last year a number of Stars prospects took to the ice at the American Airlines Center in a hard-fought loss against a team fighting for playoff positioning.
It was the end of a long and sometimes painful season, when a team that overachieved during an incredible run in February and March once again failed to find another gear when the fight for the postseason truly began. For the second season in a row the Stars had had a lead in the division midway through the season yet missed the playoffs.
With a new owner in place and a view of a new future for the franchise, general manager Joe Nieuwendyk embarked on an offseason of change. The Stars were a team that seemed to follow the same script with the same players each season and while it was painful to see certain players depart, most agree that change was necessary.
As such, the roster that the Dallas Stars will put on the ice this season will look drastically different than what we saw in April of 2012. How did the Stars get to this point and how was this roster built? Let's take a journey back through an offseason that seems so very, very long ago...
While it was unlikely the Stars would jettison Gulutzan just one year into his first season as a head coach, it is far from unheard of for teams to move on from front office and coaching staffs when a new owner takes over a franchise. Considering the playoff drought of the past four seasons, some speculated that change could be coming.
Stars owner Tom Gaglardi dispelled such rumors soon after the season:
"There is absolutely no chance that Joe and Gully aren't back,'' said the Vancouver businessman who purchased the Stars in November. ``Joe has his mandate, and he needs time to make it work, and I don't think he's had that time yet. I agree with Joe's strategy and vision, so there is harmony there.''
May 9, 2012: - Dallas Stars hire Bob Gainey as a consultant
"I do see it in a similar way to what I was doing with the Canadiens over the last two years,'' said Gainey, who was working a great deal in development with the team's AHL affiliate and also consulting with GM Pierre Gauthier. ``My scope will probably be broader with the Stars, but I see it as observing and familiarizing myself with the players and then hopefully offering some guidance that maybe others haven't seen. I would like to be able to say, `I see this in a player,' or `Maybe we could shape this player in this direction.' Those are areas where I believe I can help.''
June 13, 2012 -Willie Desjardins is hired as the Texas Stars head coach
After promoting from within the orgnanization to fill the coaching job in Dallas in 2011, the Stars did the same for the job down in Austin in 2012. Desjardins replaced Jeff Pyle, a good guy apparently handed a tough situation that nearly ended in player revolt. The hope was that Whiteboard Willie would be able to provide more stability and better communication within the organization as well as provide a better structure for the development of Stars prospects.
The Texas Stars, after a rough start to the season, are now No. 2 in their division.
June 15, 2012 - Sheldon Souray reportedly turns down offer from Stars
While the report may have not been exactly accurate at the time, this was the first sign of change that was coming to Dallas. It's likely that the Stars did want Souray to remain and be a veteran presence for the young blue line, but the team was definitely not willing to give a multi-year contract at the time. Souray ended up signing with the Anaheim Ducks on a three-year, $11 million contract.
June 18, 2012 - Dallas Stars name Curt Fraser as new assistant coach
The Stars made a big move for the coaching staff after promoting Willie Desjardins, taking Curt Fraser from the Detroit Red Wings organization and putting him on the Stars bench. Having spent four years as the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Fraser brings a lot of coaching background to Dallas as well as a new voice and a new set of eyes to mold the team.
"You can tell that there is something special happening with the Dallas Stars, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this franchise," said Fraser. "I've certainly experienced a lot in this game as both a player and a coach, and I am anxious to get to work with Joe Nieuwendyk, Glen Gulutzan, Paul Jerrard and the rest of the Stars organization."
June 18, 2012 - Dallas Stars extend qualifying offers to several RFA's
Richard Bachman, Jordie Benn, Mark Fistric, Ryan Garbutt, Luke Gazdic and Colton Sceviour all received offers from the Stars. Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell would receive theirs just a few days later, with Benn the only one having not reached a deal with the team at this time.
This was the big move that really got things shaking in the offseason. Ribeiro was a tremendous player for the Stars for a very long time but it had become clear that with this organization at this time, he was too much of a defensive liability to be a part of the team's future plans. The Stars had been rumored to be looking to move Ribeiro for a while and finally traded him for young center prospect Cody Eakin.
At the time, there was a lot of consternation about this deal. After a few months of watching Eakin in Austin, however, one gets the feeling that some aren't as upset about this trade as they once were.
The move also suddenly created a major hole at center for the Stars...
June 22-23, 2012 - Dallas Stars draft nine prospects, including Radek Faksa
Here's a quick run-down of the Stars selections...
|1||13||DAL||RADEK FAKSA||C||CZE||6' 2"||200||OHL|
|2||43||DAL||LUDWIG BYSTROM||D||SWE||6' 0"||169||SWE-JR.|
|2||54||DAL||MIKE WINTHER||C||CAN||6' 0"||172||WHL|
|2||61||DAL||DEVIN SHORE||C||CAN||6' 0"||185||OJHL|
|3||74||DAL||ESA LINDELL||D||FIN||6' 3"||187||FINLAND-JR.|
|4||104||DAL||GEMEL SMITH||C||CAN||5' 10"||164||OHL|
|5||134||DAL||BRANDEN TROOCK||RW||CAN||6' 2"||194||WHL|
|5||144||DAL||HENRI KIVIAHO||G||FIN||6' 1"||167||FINLAND-JR.|
July 1, 2012 - Dallas Stars sign Ray Whitney to 2-year, $9 million contract
The Dallas Stars made the first of a few shrewd moves to set the team up for a transition to the young prospects in the system, signing Ray Whitney to a two-year contract:
He'll be a power play "specialist" according to TSN, and can be a creator, racking up 12 assists on the power play last season with the Coyotes. He was a +26 on the year.
The move to sign an older, veteran forward as a stop-gap until younger bodies can come was not unexpected, but the move makes a team that many thought to be undergoing a "youth movement" decidedly older, as Whitney is one of the more "seasoned" players in the entire league.
This signing comes just minutes after GM Joe Nieuwendyk told media "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."
The Stars now have Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski, Philip Larsen, Aaron Rome, Mark Fistric, Adam Pardy, and Brenden Dillon on defense signed (or will be signed as RFA) for next season.
At this point, some in the media were saying about the offseason, "I don't get it."
July 1, 2012 - Players that departed via free agency or not re-signed:
You want to talk about shaking things up? Change doesn't come as contentious as this trade was with Stars fans, as the most popular player on the team was traded for a center with a perceived attitude problem and injury issues the season before.
With the trade, Dallas picks up a one-time 30-goal scorer in Roy. The Ottawa native is in the final year of a six-year contract. He will make $5.5 million this season but will only count $4 million against the cap.
Of course, you have to give to get and the Stars gave up a heart-and-soul player in Steve Ott. The Sabres, who are looking to get tougher after the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller incident last season, could use a player like Ott. His gritty side will bring something to that team while he will also have the ability to chip in some goals.
At least the Stars were able to trade Adam Pardy as well, right?
This signing may have been more for marketing in some people's eyes, but I don't care. We get to see this on the ice at the AAC:
So, yeah. That's kinda awesome.
Now, it turns out that the Stars are likely to lose two months of that rental as Roy is reported to have have surgery today and will likely be out until late November. This makes the calculated trade all the more frustrating, especially if the Stars knew that this shoulder injury existed; doctors for both sides have to approve of the health of the players before the NHL will ok the trade.
Looking back, this analysis was a bit too premature. The Stars want to re-sign Roy to a long-term contract and wanted to show good faith to the player and correct a shoulder issue that had been lingering for a long time. As far as the timeline goes, it seems it worked out perfectly, huh?
July 12, 2012 - Dallas Stars sign Richard Bachman to one-way contract
The Stars now have goaltender Christopher Nihlstorp on a two-way deal ($1 million NHL salary) and Richard Bachman at $625K. Many will look at the timing of this news and say that Nihlstorp has been relegated to AHL duty along with Jack Campbell, but the impression given at camp this week is that the competition is very much open.
July 13, 2012 - Dallas Stars sign Philip Larsen to two-year contract
The Danish defenseman had a big season in 2011-12 and after some great play in Europe during the lockout, could be the breakout player of the year for Dallas.
While his offense still hasn't fully translated to the NHL, Larsen showed a willingness to play aggressive and physical that allowed him to blossom defensively. Larsen will be a starting defenseman again this season and could find himself in a top four role to start the season. While Larsen played at times with Alex Goligoski last season, he was also very effective Trevor Daley as well.
July 16, 2012 -Dallas Stars sign Ryan Garbutt to two-year, one-way contract
The high-energy fan favorite was rewarded for his strong play at the end of the season with a one-way $575,000 contract with the Stars.
The Dallas Stars have continued to sign their free agents signing Ryan Garbutt to a two year one way contract ($575,000) and signing Texas Stars forward Luke Gazdic to a one year two way deal. Ryan Garbutt (undrafted) joined the Dallas Stars during last season and has performed well as an energy man on the fourth line. Luke Gazdic (6th round 2007) has yet to play an NHL game but has become a regular with the Texas Stars scoring 23 points ( 11 goals, 12 assists) in 76 games. He has spent his career within the Stars development system.
With Steve Ott gone, along with Souray and Adam Burish, the Dallas Stars needed to retain some grit on the team. While Fistric is far from perfect, he remains as the most physical defenseman on the Stars roster (along with Rome, perhaps).
Sept. 14, 2012 - Dallas Stars sign Kari Lehtonen to five-year, $29 million contract
On the eve of the lockout the Stars joined in the contract sign-a-thon, inking the big netminder to a relatively valuable deal when compared to other goaltenders around the NHL.
The quick eye test tells us that Kari can reasonably be put in the same group with the recent mega goalie deals. His save percentage fits in at about average for that group of eleven goalies over the past four years. The midpoint of those contracts is, as I mentioned above, about five years and 32 million dollars or the Ryan Miller contract. Kari also has similar counting stats to Miller over the past four years so it wouldn't be much of a shock if his representatives used Miller's contract as a negotiating point.
Sept. 16, 2012 - NHL Lockout begins
Jan. 6, 2013 -NHL Lockout is over
Let's play some hockey.