Sean Avery has officially reported to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL today, and his $1.9 million salary cap hit is taken off the books of the New York Rangers. Unfortunately, this also means that Avery's $1.9 million cap hit for the Dallas Stars is now gone -- something we've been contemplating since last week since Avery was initially placed on waivers by the Rangers.
Last week we discussed the various possibilities of what the Stars could do in regards to the cap situation. One possibility we discussed was whether having Scott Glennie on IR while he was recovering from a concussion would be enough to handle the cap until it evened out for the year (roughly into the first week of November) but the Stars have said that Glennie's AHL salary will count against the cap while on IR and that is nowhere near enough to help this current situation.
Right now, the Stars are still above the cap floor. With Adam Pardy on injured reserve the Stars have Philip Larsen up from the AHL, whose cap hit is enough to lift the Stars above the floor. Yet Pardy will soon be ready to come off IR and there's a good chance he could play on Thursday. When that happens, Larsen would have to go back to the AHL and suddenly the Stars would fall beneath the cap floor.
Unfortunately, it seems that the Stars are going to need to do something to add to the cap hit for the team. Calling up another player from the AHL won't exactly work since there's no space and the salaries aren't high enough. Next option? Free agents...
There have not been anything close to signs that this is the route the Stars will take. Right now, it's all speculation and I think the Stars are still trying to determine the best route they can take that is best for the team. Unfortunately, it's a short-term solution to a problem that they don't exactly need; there's just not anyone on the street right now that is likely to step on the ice with the Stars and not only improve the cap hit but also improve the overall quality of the team.
The truly unfortunate effect of this situation is the options the Stars have with their young players. The team decided to send Eric Godard to the AHL to make a roster spot available for a young, impressive player from the preseason. While Vincour has struggled a bit (who on the Stars hasn't), he's likely to be the unfortunate victim of this entire mess and will probably find himself sent to the AHL through no fault of his own.
With the Stars needing a roster spot to make this supposed signing, Vincour would be the one to give it up. With Adam Pardy coming off IR and taking Larsen's spot, it's going to be Vincour who will ultimately lose out.
This also has ramifications for the rest of the season as well. With several prospects looking good down in Austin, the Stars will have to wait for injuries to occur for any call ups to happen -- and those will only be temporary.
In the interest of blindly throwing darts at the wall, I also went ahead and took a look at some possible free agent targets. None of the names are overwhelming -- there's a reason they're not playing with any teams right now. Also keep in mind that the Stars will likely have to spend over $1 million on a free agent to get above the cap floor. All that being said, here's some names I came up with, and their ages:
John Madden, C- 38
Michael Nylander, C - 39
Sergei Samsanov, LW/RW - 32
Todd White, C - 36
Chris Clark, RW - 35
Steve Bernier, RW - 26
Mike Grier, RW - 36
The list of players who wouldn't need to be vastly overpaid to help this team is very short. What is ironic -- and I don't want to pour salt on the wound -- is that Mike Modano's contract would actually have been needed right now. Modano's time has passed, however, and I still think that even with this problem facing the Stars now the decision to finally retire was the right one.
To me, Madden or Nylander would be the best choice for a) fixing the cap issue and b) actually having the skill to help this team up the middle. Scratch what I said just there -- Samsanov looks to be the better option, both as a versatile winger, a right shot and as someone who can still somewhat produce offensively.
What say you, Stars fans?