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Dallas Stars Have Decisions To Make On Unrestricted Free Agents Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler

Dallas has three unrestricted free agents after this season is done - Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler and Stephane Robidas. Some of the Defending Big D staff chimes in on what we think will happen with each at the trade deadline and beyond.

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The success of a lot of teams in the NHL depends on asset management. While you usually have to give something to get something, unrestricted free agents are often moved at the trade deadline to either obtain a piece that is missing from the current roster or for picks that turn into prospects to fill the pipeine.

The Dallas Stars have three unrestricted free agents coming up on their current roster. These guys are each at different points in their careers and provide something different to the Stars. It is thought that where Dallas stands at the trade deadline will dictate whether they are buyers or whether they are sellers (or a combination of both).

Without knowing where Dallas will end up at the deadline, David, Ismael and myself got together to take a look at the UFAs individually and decide what we think will happen with each of them, regardless of that outcome on March 5th.

Ray Whitney

Whitney brings a lot of veteran leadership to a young team in Dallas. While his production has slipped this season after scoring at nearly a point per game pace, he's still put up 22 points (7G, 15A) in 51 games played this season. All while seeing limited ice time as a bottom six forward.

Why he could be re-signed

Whitney offers depth scoring, which is key if the team wants to make a deep run in the playoffs. His professionalism and work ethic is elite, and he could be that veteran presence to stay around to allow young prospects enough time to marinate in Texas.

Why he could be traded

With a limited no-trade clause, general manager Jim Nill would have to ask the winger to provide a list of ten teams to try to make a deal with. If a situation were to open up where Whitney would have a chance to join a deep team for one more shot at the Stanley Cup, he'd most likely take it. He's not getting any younger, and I think everyone knows Dallas isn't there yet. I think it's unlikely Whitney would re-sign here, so trading a veteran depth scorer to a contender and getting something in return would be smart asset management from the Dallas Stars' perspective.

What we think will happen

David: I can't imagine he would be coming back next year, so if Dallas can work around his limited NTC then he gets moved at the deadline.
Ismael: I think Dallas is going to shop him around and look to get as much return on him at the deadline because they don't have much use for him. We've seen this year that he's lost a step or two, and a guy like Chiasson could step up into a 2nd line playmaking role in the not so distant future.
Taylor: I think Whitney is a great guy in the locker room and he fits in well with the culture here. That said, if Dallas finds themselves on the outside looking in at the deadline, they try to find a good fit for him at the deadline.

Vernon Fiddler

Fiddler is another veteran presence on the team facing pending unrestricted free agency. He's scored 11 total points on the season (3G, 8A) in a checking/penalty kill specialist role. He's got the third best faceoff percentage (54%) on the team behind Rich Peverley and Jamie Benn and has bounced between third and fourth line duties this year.

Why he could be re-signed

Dallas needs veteran presence on the roster. Some of the youth in Austin needs more time before being thrust into the national league. Fiddler still has the wheels to keep up with younger roster players, and his penalty killing is huge for Dallas. He doesn't look out of place within Lindy Ruff's system.

Why he could be traded

Fiddler earlier this season already expressed his desire for more ice time, and if he wasn't getting it here he was hoping he would get it somewhere else. While that has calmed down since then and Fiddler has developed a distinctive role on this team, I'm not sure he sees himself as a long-term part of the Stars. As a penalty killer and faceoff specialist, he could help improve a contending team's special teams going into the playoffs.

What we think will happen

David: I'd be quite happy with him coming back on a short-term deal, but the writing's been on the wall for some time now and I'd imagine he's gone by the deadline.
Ismael: I think Dallas shops him around for best value, especially since there have been reports recently that he may not be the most thrilled with his 4th line duties on a non-playoff team.
Taylor: I can't help but think that Dallas has guys down in Austin that couldn't come up and take on the role that Fiddler has at the NHL level. While I think he's a big part of the locker room, I just don't see him coming back next season. I think he'll move at the deadline and get a nice contract in the summer as a free agent.

Stephane Robidas

The elder statesman of the blueline, Robidas broke his leg at the end of October. Since then, he's been rehabbing to return to the lineup with a target date of mid-March. It presents an interesting situation for Dallas, as the trade deadline occurs before he could return to the lineup. Robidas has taken on some of the hardest defensive minutes over the last several seasons in Dallas and was instrumental to Brenden Dillon's development.

Why he could be re-signed

I don't think I've ever seen a guy give so much to his team. Broken noses, broken legs, bumps and bruises -- Robidas has sacrificed his body for the logo on his chest. He's looked at with respect from the younger guys on the team and he's an embodiment of what it means to be a professional at this level. He'll never be the lauded guy on the backend scoring all the goals, but he does all of the things that teams need that aren't as fancy but just as important. With a young crop of blueliners coming up in Austin, having a guy like Robidas on the roster to ease the transition to that group would be beneficial to the team's development.

Why he could be traded

When healthy, Robidas is a solid second or third pairing guy that will eat up tough minutes. As experienced blueliners like him are rarities to hit free agency, a team could be willing to part with assets if they think he could re-sign with them to shore up their defenses. His injury will most likely prevent him from being traded at the trade deadline (where Dallas could probably get some overpayment for his services) but if they don't see him as a part of their plans moving forward, he could be moved at the draft. With uncertainty lurking on how he will perform when he returns from his broken leg and his age as a factor, Dallas might try to get an asset in return for his rights.

What we think will happen

David: Never trade Robi. Please. Besides, I'm not sure what his injury does to his trade value. He'll have to prove he can return at the same level in order to have some value, and if/when he does return it'll be too late in the season for that.
Ismael: I think Dallas tries to keep him for another two or so years to help finish the transition to the new team. My guess is a 2-3 year extension at around $3 million.
Taylor: I think Robidas is another one of those guys that could be a key veteran presence to transition to the new blueline. While it hasn't fallen apart without him completely, it's still hard to say that Dallas has that one shutdown defenseman on the roster right now. I don't see anyone in Austin that's immediately ready to step up to the NHL, so I don't think it'd be a bad idea to re-sign him for a season or two to help take the pressure off of having to rush blueliners that aren't ready.

What do you think will happen with Dallas' unrestricted free agents? Let's talk Dallas Stars on a day where we don't have Olympic men's hockey. After all, there's still an end goal to achieve right here in big D.