Current NHL Needs: 2nd line center, top Defenseman (preferably a righty), 2nd line LW, Backup goalie
Possible Full-Time Graduates:
Brett Ritchie (RW) – Ritchie had a great rookie year with Texas, particularly in the second half of the season. The big winger also scored 3 goals in the last three games of the Calder Cup Finals, notching 7 goals and 11 points in 13 games after missing most of the first two rounds with an injury. Ritchie could probably break into a limited role with Dallas next year, but I expect the Stars to start him out in a larger role with Texas next season.
Scott Glennie (C/RW) – Glennie won’t make it in a top six role, but he could see time on the 3rd or 4th line with Dallas next season. He’s more likely to fit at wing than center.
Travis Morin (C) – The AHL MVP was absolutely spectacular for the entire year. Many think he’s capable of playing in the NHL, but in what role? Also working against Morin is the fact that he’s 30 years old. You just don’t break into the NHL for the first time at that age. However, he’ll get a look in training camp and Dallas has a definite need at center.
Chris Mueller (C) – He spent some time at the 4th line center position in Dallas this year, and was frequently the first player called up whenever injuries struck. If he gets a contract, it very well may be with the intention of having him play a 4th line role full-time.
Curtis McKenzie (LW) – The AHL rookie of the year put up 65 points in 75 games with Texas in the regular season. He’s not a prolific scorer, but seems to fit marvelously as a gritty glue player with skilled offensive players. In addition, he can create some offense on his own. I think he stays in Texas for now, but he has certainly popped up on the radar as a future depth guy (and maybe more?) for Dallas.
Patrik Nemeth (D) – Nemeth made a good impression when he came up late last season. He also looked decent in the playoffs. Nemeth has been a defensive force in the AHL and is probably the most likely blueliner to start off in Dallas next year.
Jamie Oleksiak (D) – Oleksiak is a behemoth who still has trouble embracing the physical side of the game. In addition, he needs to work on making decisions faster and transition the puck up the ice more quickly. If he can learn those, he’ll have a real shot at being an impact NHL defenseman. Many want to see him play in Dallas next year, but I think it’s better to let him remain as the #1 guy for Texas until he proves he’s too good for the AHL.
Cameron Gaunce (D) – Gaunce has a chance to play in the NHL next year, but he’ll have to beat out a lot of other young defensemen to do it (assuming he’s re-signed). This might be the make or break year for Gaunce, a former 2nd round pick of the Colorado Avalanche.
John Klingberg (D) – Recently named by Hockey’s Future as the top NHL defensive prospect who played in Sweden last year, Klingberg has proved that he possess elite offensive skill. However, it remains to be seen if he can adjust to the smaller North American rink. Klingberg possess great playmaking talents, top-end skating ability, can quarterback the powerplay, and is a right-handed shot. He’s also battled hip injuries in his young career. No one is quite sure what to think of Klingberg, but the 21 year old could potentially turn into the power play and offensive specialist that Dallas desperately needs. I imagine he’ll start off in the AHL, but I doubt he stays there long.
Jack Campbell (G) – Dallas needs a backup goaltender, and Campbell might be ready for the job. Unfortunately, he suffered three injuries this year. Still, he was dominant in the games he played, going 12-2-2 with a .942 SV% and a 1.49 GAA in the American Hockey League. I suspect Dallas will hold Campbell back another year and hope he can stay healthy for the full AHL season as the #1 with Texas. However, if they can’t find an acceptable NHL backup, the former first round pick may find his way to Dallas.
Second line center:
Paul Stastny – out of all the centers available this offseason, I believe Stastny would be the best fit for Dallas. He has solid defensive ability combined with great offensive skill. Assuming he doesn’t sign an extension with the Avs, he’ll be the most sought after center in free agency. As the top UFA center on the market, the cost of acquiring him will be huge. Perhaps 7 years at 6.5-7 million per year huge. That’s too much, and perhaps the Stars would be better off waiting for Dickinson or Shore to develop.
Short term options (bridge options while waiting for prospects to develop): Mikhail Grabovski, David Legwand, Brad Richards
Ryan Kesler – Has great two way ability, former 40 goal scorer, about to turn 30 years old.
He’s probably the most sought after center on the trade market. However, I do not want Kesler in Dallas. The value required to trade for him will be way too high, and despite his favorable contract, I expect the returns to drastically diminish. Kesler has had a significant injury history, and his punishing style of play has not done his longevity any favors. I don’t think he’s an elite player now, and I doubt that changes in the future.
Jason Spezza - Spezza will be moving on from Ottawa, as both he and the organization want to go separate ways. With only one year left on the 31 year old’s contract, Dallas will need to get a tentative extension negotiated before pulling the trigger on a trade (rare in the NHL). Spezza is more talented offensively than Kesler, but plays a much softer game. The price for Spezza would likely be Alex Chiasson, the 14th overall pick, and a Dickinson/Shore/Ritchie/Oleksiak. That’s too much for my liking, so I’d avoid making this trade.
Nazem Kadri – I don’t see this happening, but he’s only 23 years old (perfect for our core) and Toronto seems intent on running him out of town. There’s no shortage of skill in this kid, although the rest of his game needs work. This may be a situation where you could acquire a young core piece at a realistic price.
Concluding remarks: I am not in favor of picking up a 30+ year old veteran to fill a core position on a young team. Most of the legitimate #2 centers are older, and probably not worth what it would take to acquire them. I would like to trade for a young center if the price is right, but barring that a bridge option like Mikhail Grabovski may be the best move at this time.
Second line left wing:
Trade front: I’m not in favor of making a deal for a left wing scorer right now. If Dallas is giving up assets to improve the team right now, let it be for a center or defenseman. You don’t build from the wings, and I’d rather hold on to our prospects. In addition, this is a much lesser need than a right-handed d-man or a 2nd line center. Dallas is not going to get bogged down on a big contract for a veteran winger.
Free agency: Mike Cammalleri is an interesting fit, as he wouldn’t cost any assets (other than money). Still, the term would have to be right. He’ll probably want a long term deal, which Dallas would be severely reluctant to offer. Other options would be Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson. I don’t want either one. Moulson is not a 30 goal scorer without Tavares, and he might just get paid like one. The big concerns with Vanek are money and how well he’d fit in the tougher Western Conference.
Mason Raymond – Raymond had a nice bounce back year with the Leafs, and due to cap constraints he probably won’t be back. I think it’s highly unlikely he could sign for very long term, or for more than 3 million (and possibly less). This could be a good value addition for a team that doesn’t want to commit to a big contract.
Defense: I’m only going to consider defensemen who play on the right side of the ice (particularly right-handed shots). I doubt that Nill feels the need to pick up a left-shooting defenseman who could make an immediate impact.
Anton Stralman – The Swedish product has become a legitimate 2nd pair defenseman in the NHL. He had a particularly noticeable playoffs (in a good way) for the Rangers and will probably cash in at around 4.5-5 million per year. Dallas will certainly inquire about his asking price, but lots of other teams should be interested as well.
Matt Niskanen – Niskanen had a huge year at the perfect time, posting 46 points and a +33 from the back end. However, he played more than 50% of his shifts with Crosby, Malkin, or both on the ice. In addition, he hasn’t showed anywhere near this kind of promise in the past. I feel that Niskanen, who may get 6 million+ on a long-term deal is a bad contract waiting to happen. I’d avoid him unless the cost drops significantly.
Andrej Meszaros – I don’t find this likely. While he technically fits the mold Dallas is looking for, I don’t think they bother signing someone who doesn’t really belong above the third pair.
Dan Boyle – It’s highly doubtful this happens. For one, Boyle wants to join a contender on a multi-year deal. Dallas probably doesn’t fit his mold, and the Stars don’t need to use a multi-year contract on a defenseman who had to be sheltered defensively last season.
Matt Greene – I bet he re-signs with the Kings, but if he hits free agency there should be significant interest. Defenders like Greene rarely get enough credit, and he might be a good value option who would fit in the top 4 and play tough penalty killing minutes.
Dion Phaneuf- First of all, Dallas and probably no one else will even consider making this trade unless Toronto is retaining some salary for the entire length of the contract. A seven year, $7 million per contract for "Double Dion"? No thank you – further proof of Toronto’s terrible management. However, many do think that Phaneuf could be much more effective if his role and minutes are reduced. From Dallas’ standpoint though, he’s probably not worth the contract or the assets it would take to acquire him.
Tyler Myers – Myers is a very interesting case. In his rookie year as a 19 year old, he put up 48 points. After that, it’s been all downhill. He’s certainly not worth his $5.5 million contract, but his trade value should be pretty low. Even better, the Sabres are willing to trade him for future assets. If Dallas believes they could rehabilitate the 24 year old righty, this might be the best time to buy. It’s worth noting that Lindy Ruff was his coach in Buffalo for 3 and a half seasons, so Ruff’s assessment of Myers and his future will probably be a huge factor into deciding whether to even inquire about Myer’s price. Could Alex Chiasson, Sergei Gonchar (throw-in to help Buffalo reach the cap floor), and a 2nd round pick bring Myers to Dallas? Probably not, but it might be worth exploring.
Backup Goaltender: Campbell’s injuries this season have probably pushed back his NHL arrival. Dallas will likely look to bring in a relatively young, but experienced NHL backup on a short contract.
Al Montoya – never more than a career backup in the NHL, but the 29 year old posted a .920 SV% and a 2.30 GAA in 28 games with the Jets last season. He’d be a nice option to start 25 games behind Kari Lehtonen next year.
Jonas Gustavsson – an experienced NHL backup who would sign a short term deal at a low price. Also has a connection to GM Jim Nill.
Depth Forwards: Dallas has a lot of forwards sort of caught between the AHL and NHL, and they’ll all get a shot to crack the roster in training camp. Perhaps they go out and sign a veteran like Marcel Goc to replace Vernon Fiddler (assuming he does leave), but Travis Morin, Chris Mueller, and Dustin Jeffrey are all experienced options, while younger options such as Curtis McKenzie and Scott Glennie are also going to be battling to crack the bottom six in Dallas.
Projected Final Roster for 2014/15:
Very Conservative: http://www.capgeek.com/armchair-gm/roster/25147
- Grabovski signed to a 2-3 year deal
- Free agency/trades for vets mostly avoided; long-term growth put first
- This is what I most expect to happen
- Dallas trades Chiasson in a package for Tyler Myers
- Dallas is active in free agency
- I do not want Dallas to look like this next year
What I’d love to see: http://www.capgeek.com/armchair-gm/roster/25474
- Chiasson traded in a package for Nazem Kadri
- Dillon signed to a 3-4 year deal.
- Some right-handed D-man being signed to fill out the 2nd or 3rd pair.
note: Rich Peverley is on LT IR for these rosters. There’s no sense in predicting the future in his case, and you can’t assume he’ll be able to play in October. A GM can’t sit around hoping a player in Pevs’ situation will be ready to go without restrictions, and Nill will have to plan his 2014-15 roster without Rich Peverley. If Peverley is able to play, he’s versatile enough to fit almost wherever the Stars have a need.
Reasonable Goals for Next Season:
- Finish somewhere in the 95-105 points range. Dallas plays in what was the most competitive division last year, and certainly will have to battle for this accomplishment. However, if they can improve their performance from within and pick up a decent second line center or right defenseman, they have a legitimate chance to achieve this goal.
- Win a playoff series. Last year’s playoffs taught this young team a couple of hard lessons, but also gave them much needed experience. They’ll need to use that experience to get hungrier and play smarter in the postseason.
- Keep the future in mind, don’t get caught up with success in the present. Dallas is a rebuilding team. They should not sacrifice future core players for short-term success. Don’t make moves now that will cost the team in the future. If you can make a move that improves the team short-term that won’t hurt the future, go for it.