Welcome to Wednesday, when the NHL's 2015 free-agent frenzy begins in earnest. Here in Dallas, the air is electric with anticipation — in large part because we don't really know what we're looking forward to seeing.
Such is life in the Jim Nill era. The Dallas Stars general manager takes a quiet approach to deal-making that seems almost odd in the town Jurreh and Mark call home. Mike Heika suggests that Nill doesn't mean to be secretive — he just operates best in the space where preparation meets opportunity:
Nill gathers all information he can, gets involved in the meat of discussion on key players, and then makes a quick decision when the time is right. And that's exactly how he looks at free agency. He will definitely be talking, and the Stars will be mentioned in on players like Cody Franson or Johnny Oduya, but he'll also be patient enough to wait for things to happen when the timing is perfect.
"The thing about free agency is you don't want to overpay," Nill said. "It's so easy to get caught up in it, but you have to weigh the benefits, look at other opportunities, and just be sure when you make your decision."
Heika also discusses Nill's preparations and plans for the Wednesday whirlwind.
After Nill took care of the goalie position by signing Niemi to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million a season, he really has a full roster that he could take into next season. Restricted free agents Curtis McKenzie and Jamie Oleksiak have to negotiate new deals, but they will give the Stars 22 players on a 23-man roster. Winger Patrick Eaves has received an offer from the Stars, but is expected to test unrestricted free agency and might circle back to Dallas after Wednesday.
If he signs, that's 23 players.
Nill still could pull a trade and send away players on the roster. He said he is going to look at ways to possibly upgrade the defense, and he still could use a top six winger if Eaves doesn't sign. The Stars have about $10 million in salary cap space, so they have options. But Nill believes the best option is waiting and making the right deal.
There's more, so head on over and check it out. [Sports Day DFW]
Mark Stepneski has written his own Stars free-agency preview. The word of the day is "patience." [Stars Inside Edge]
Rick Gosselin talked about the Stars quite a bit in his latest chat and was not shy in sharing his opinion of the Antti Niemi signing. Spoiler alert: He likes it. [Sports Day DFW]
Between the Mavs and Stars, which franchise has the greater potential in the next five years?
Stars. They have two of the best young forwards in the league, a young defenseman on the rise and they just acquired a goalie capable of winning a Stanley Cup. Right now I can't even tell you what the starting 5 of the Mavericks will be this fall.
Okay, you know what, @DallasStars? You shouldn't get to get away with stuff like this.
Looking for a way to spend your #LeapSecond tonight? Here's a preview of what's premiering this Fourth of July. pic.twitter.com/osHWq9HonP— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) June 30, 2015
Would you (or someone you know) like to become a Dallas Stars Ice Girl? Auditions for the 2015-16 team are scheduled for Saturday, July 25. [Dallas Stars]
You're going to have to kneel before Saad somewhere else: The Chicago Blackhawks traded 22-year-old forward and 2015 Stanley Cup winner Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets late yesterday afternoon, before he became available to offer sheets today. As shocking as the seven-player deal may have been, it helped the Hawks make the best of their bad cap situation, says David Haugh. [Chicago Tribune]
The plot grows ever thicker in the Arizona Coyotes saga. Is a move to Vegas next? No matter what happens, you might want to bookmark this denial for future reference.
The NHL and Arizona Coyotes are strongly denying a report that the team is moving to Las Vegas: http://t.co/OfSh2mR58G— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 1, 2015
Elsewhere, the Vancouver Canucks and Kevin Bieksa finally achieved closure yesterday. The 'Nucks have completed a trade to the Anaheim Ducks for a 2016 second-rounder.
After the NHL Draft weekend, the Boston Bruins have too many G's, so the San Jose Sharks took one off their hands. In return for netminder Martin Jones, SJ is sending forward prospect Sean Kuraly and a 2016 first-round pick the other way. It's the second time Jones has been traded in the past five days. His frequent-flyer miles must be on point right now. [San Jose Mercury News]
It's being reported that Jones has signed a three-year, $9 million deal with the Sharks. Jones has 26 NHL starts. This may or may not be an overpayment. (Stars fans, keep this in mind if you ever start losing sleep over Antti Niemi's contract.)
If you take out that crazy-hot 8-0 start, Martin Jones has a .9058 save pct% in 26 NHL games. The AHL track record is nice, but ...— Cörey Masisak (@cmasisak22) July 1, 2015
@cmasisak22 But nobody knows what he is, and the Sharks are paying $9 mil to find out. Seems like a lot, but that price isn't surprising.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) July 1, 2015
@drosennhl @cmasisak22 why not? Has another goalie gotten $9-mil with under 30 starts in NHL history?— James Mirtle (@mirtle) July 1, 2015
@mirtle @drosennhl @cmasisak22 I think the #Kings were prepared to give him 2-years at 1.5 per max. Trades worked out quite well for Martin.— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) July 1, 2015
In Vancouver, they'll miss Eddie Lack, Ordinary Guy, even more than they'll miss his play in the Canucks' net. [VanCityBuzz]
Sad news from the Washington Capitals: Defenseman Patrick Wey has retired, at age 24, after suffering multiple concussions. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Remember last week, when The Tennessean reported that former Star Mike Ribeiro had rejected the Nashville Predators' contract extension offer? Well, by the time you read this, it's "likely" he's re-signed anyway. [NHL.com]
In the Department of No News, the Calgary Flames wasted no time at all in signing former Bruins defender Dougie Hamilton to a six-year, $34.5 million contract. [Calgary Herald]
The Toronto Maple Leafs may be preparing to make a run at sought-after UFA forward Matt Beleskey, who is ready to cash in on his career year with the Anaheim Ducks. [Toronto Sun]
Meanwhile, both the Leafs and the Flames are reported to be "in contact" with hot commodity Cody Franson. The Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and our own Dallas Stars are also said to be interested in the right-shot defenseman. [SportsNet]
SportsNet also reports that the Penguins may be ready to make a deal for Phil Kessel.
Could Phil Kessel be heading to the #Penguins? It may still be possible, says @reporterchris: http://t.co/Emz7Zz03cg pic.twitter.com/50RPjjUQZe— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 1, 2015
Right wing and terrifying goal assassin Vladimir Tarasenko is about to become an RFA. Word is that he will not re-sign with the St. Louis Blues before free agency begins. The Blues have said they do not plan to explore the UFA market until they make a deal with Tarasenko, which sounds wise. [NHL.com]
Now that Max Fortunus is gone, who will step up as the Texas Stars' veteran presence on defense? DBD contributor Stephen Meserve runs through some in-house and free-agent options. [100 Degree Hockey]
Meanwhile, UFA defenseman Cameron Gaunce has not ruled out re-signing with the guys from Cedar Park. "We're on good terms and we're still talking. I believe it'll be one of the teams we have serious discussions with." [Wrong Side of the Red Line]
Finally: Cute childhood photos of Dallas Stars are everywhere this week. Li'l Tyler Seguin, age 6, showed up in an old My First Hockey News Profile on Monday, and yesterday it was the bouncing baby Benn brothers.
little Jordie and Jamie Benn #DallasStars pic.twitter.com/o82pF0ztdG— Jen (@NHLhistorygirl) June 30, 2015
Naturally, @DallasStars got the last word.
Beard grew in the next day. https://t.co/bNCGq8C6VR— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) June 30, 2015