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Stargazing: 2009 NHL Free Agency - Stars sign Skrastins

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars news, as well as a look at what's happening around the Pacific division and the rest of the NHL.

Day 2 of Free Agency found the Stars surveying the changing NHL landscape, with things the same at home. Budgetary concerns influenced the Stars to act cautiously and sign veteran defenseman Karlis Skrastins of the Florida Panthers. Stars fans may remember Skrastins as being on Colorado teams that twice beat the Stars in the opening round of the playoffs. ('04 and '06) on Skrastins:

Skrastins, 34, skated in 80 games for Florida last season, collecting four goals and 14 assists for 18 points with 30 penalty minutes. His assist and point totals in 2008-09 were both career highs. He led the Panthers with 171 blocked shots, ranking ninth overall in the league in that category.

What does this mean for Sergei Zubov?

There is buzz out there about Sergei Zubov (St. Louis with former Stars GM Doug Armstrong and New York, where Zubov once played and still summers are said to be candidates), and I firmly believe the Stars could easily lose him to another team. But Joe Nieuwendyk said they still are in contact with Zubov and still are interested in him.

Tell us in the comments: Do you think Zubov is out of here?

Jim Lites' contract has expired, and the Hicks Sports Marketing Group has subsequently been dissolved. Says the Morning News:

Lites, 56, has helped oversee the building of nine Dr Pepper StarCenters, including the team's training facility in Frisco. He also has played a key role in the building of American Airlines Center and of the new minor league rink in Cedar Park in suburban Austin...

But with the expiration Tuesday of Jim Lites' contract, the marketing group has been dissolved and employees split between the Rangers and the Stars as Hicks continues to seek a buyer for the Rangers and focus on the Stars.

Bob Sturm
of The Ticket and D-Magazine wants to make one thing clear of Hicks:

If he had his choice, he sells the hockey team. He can’t sell it. The only property of the two with a chance to find investors is a baseball team on the upswing. And there you have the reason why it is happening in the order it is happening - not this premise that Hicks is suddenly more committed to hockey than baseball...

Inside Corner also reports rumors that Hicks may have borrowed $15 million from MLB. His financial troubles have greatly limited the Stars budget, and Defending Big D asked yesterday: Should Stars fans feel frustrated?

And of course, heavy on the minds of Stars fans and management alike is Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. The Toronto Sun reports:

Gustavsson’s agent Par Larsson said today that the young goaltender will not make a decision for a few more days.

Once again pushing back a decision the Stars and Leafs need vehemently as the free agent market continues to thin.


Around the Pacific:

Around the NHL: