As the clock slipped past midnight early this morning, the NHL calendar officially flipped over to the 2012-13 season.
Now for the moment, let's put this whole cloud of CBA uncertainly behind us and pretend that some how, some way, everything will work out. After all, there's a much more enjoyable event to look forward to today - the official opening of the unrestricted free agent market.
The Dallas Stars could go several directions today, from acquiring expensive, shiny new pieces to help solve the short term problems. Depending on offers from other teams, they could welcome players from last year's team back into the fold if the offers out there aren't good enough. Or they could go into a full holding pattern, make a few minor moves and leave us all wondering what the plan is over the next several days.
Mike Heika has a paywalled article that sums up most of the options, and he makes it pretty clear what he thinks will happen.
General manager Joe Nieuwendyk still wants to win, he still will dabble in veteran players, he still will chase the playoffs. But he will do so with a clearer picture of the future. That future includes a lot of Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson and Alex Goligoski, and a ton of prospects who will fight for NHL ice time. It also might include a huge free-agent signing at some point. Just probably not this summer.
We'll have mounds and mounds of free agent coverage today, provided the Stars do anything of note. But before that all starts at 11 a.m. central time, you can catch up with the last-minute signings, boggle at the market price of defensemen and smile and shiny new draft picks after the jump.
- For starters, a list of the available free agents. Feel free to fantasize in the comments below. [Canada.com]
- The fine folks over at the NHL's website wrote a pretty comprehensive piece on what all the teams in the Pacific Division might be looking for in free agency, and the Stars made it even easier for you to find by re-purposing it.[DallasStars.com]
- Before we get back into the free agent frenzy, here's a nice piece on new draft pick Devin Shore. [Durham Region]
- More rumor mill fun - despite the probable ginormous price tag, some are saying that the Stars are going to be very aggressive in the pursuit of defenseman du jour Ryan Suter. [The Fourth Period]
- And the people in Edmonton think the Stars will be making a pitch to Shane Doan. [Edmonton Journal]
- The Nashville Predators kept one of the more interesting pieces from reaching the market when they agreed with Paul Gaustad on a four-year, $3.25-million per season contract. [The Tennessean]
- Jason Garrison, who is very high on the list of many who have made "ideal free-agent targets" for the Stars, will likely get a ridiculous paycheck today. Remember, kids, defensemen are expensive. [SunSentinal.com]
- A handy example of that - Matt Niskanen did manage to shake some of the confidence demons that plagued him just prior to his trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins. But is he really worth $2.3 million per season for the next two years? I know the Pens fans are okay with it, but he's still being sheltered from any tough assignments in his own end. He's got by far the weakest quality of competition of any of the Pens regular defense from last year. [PensBurgh]
- The first official free agent decision is already made, as former Anaheim Ducks draft pick Justin Schultz decided to take his talents to the Edmonton Oilers. [USA Today]
- If you really, really want to know about all the details that might come into play during the CBA negotiations, the always informative Nick Cotsonika has a laymen's summary for you. [Yahoo Sports]
- And your final primer on all the top tier free agents in the style that only DGB can get away with and be more funny than insulting. [Down Goes Brown]
- Or if you're looking for the general strategies that always work this time of year, Todd's got that part of the equation covered. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- Yes, I know this video is from the draft and therefore more than a week old. But if you'd like to play "Read the general manager's body language and hidden innuendo to know exactly what his plans are," then this is your time of year.