The Dallas Stars have quite a few free agents this summer coming up.
Rich Peverley, Shawn Horcoff, Patrick Eaves and Jhonas Enroth are all slated to become unrestricted free agents. There's no indication about Peverley's playing future yet, and I have to think the Stars aren't going to rush him into making any kind of decision. Horcoff, Eaves and Enroth could all be in the plans to re-sign, with Horcoff and Eaves being shorter term deals most likely.
In the restricted free agent category, the Stars have a bevy of young blueliners due for contract extensions: John Klingberg, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka all figure to be part of the defense moving forward for the Stars. With their RFA status, there really is no rush to sign as they all just need to be qualified for the Stars to retain their rights in the summer. They'd be able to get through the draft and free agency and then evaluate where they are cap-wise and negotiate with the RFAs later in the summer.
That's why the report that the Stars have agreed to an extension with Klingberg is both surprising and not.
Surprising in that it's already done, before the season has barely grown cold, with a restricted free agent. Unsurprising when you think about who the extension is with. Klingberg impressed in his rookie campaign, putting up more points than any other rookie defensemen in the NHL while playing in fewer games, against tougher competition, while maintaining positive possession numbers. His presence really helped to settle a tumultuous blueline after the team stumbled out of the gate in October.
The reported extension from Mike Heika has the terms listed at seven years with a cap hit of $4.25 million. As Heika points out:
At this time, Klingberg would have the fifth highest salary cap hit on the team next season, and second highest among defensemen. Alex Goligoski has one year remaining on his deal at $4.8 million.
If Klingberg's development continues the way his freshman season went, this contract is going to look like an absolute steal around year four or so. The even more genius part is locking up several unrestricted free agency years in this contract, which will take Klingberg into his late twenties/early thirties -- he'll be around 30 years old when the contract ends.
Jim Nill continues to construct the Stars' cap in such a way that there will be plenty of space available for anticipated raises for the guys identified as core pieces to this franchise's future. For instance, Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky's deals expire in the same offseason, presumably Hemsky's cap hit can be used on a Benn extension. Same with Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.
It's the mantra of building a consistent contender being put into practice by the Stars front office.
In other Stars news....
Mattias Backman and Jason Dickinson were assigned to the Texas stars last night after finishing their respective seasons. Backman and Dickinson most likely will not see playing time in Texas, as they have just two games left in the regular season and neither player was on the clear day roster (that we're aware of).
Being around a team about to make a run in the Calder Cup playoffs will only help Dickinson and Backman in the long run. They'll get to see how the team works, their systems and be around a winning culture being cultivated in Cedar Park. Check out Hundred Degree Hockey for the official details on this move.