The Dallas Stars organization, namely GM Jim Nill, has some big moves to make on the blueline this offseason – and with so many moving pieces in Dallas, Cedar Park and parts (as yet) unknown, it's hard to keep the pieces ordered even with a scorecard. Fortunately, Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News has written it all down.
First there are some intricate and overlapping decisions to be made regarding the Stars' four pending UFAs and the organization's rising blueliners in the AHL:
At the heart of the discussion revolving around Alex Goligoski, Kris Russell, Jason Demers and Jordie Benn is the fact the team carried nine defensemen in the playoffs and has to make room for rookie Esa Lindell, who will be a lock to play in the NHL next year. That's 10 defensemen, and the guess is the Stars will only carry seven next season.
So, with four players having no contract commitment, the game of musical chairs could come down to only one chair left.
And this is before Nill considers making a trade or signing a high-profile free agent:
Will playoff success cause big paydays in St. Louis and Tampa Bay, thus forcing players like Jason Garrison, Matthew Carle, Anton Stralman, Kevin Shattenkirk or Jay Bouwmeester to fall into Patrick Sharp range?
And still my favorite bar room discussion: What if Brent Burns doesn't want to sign a contract extension with the Sharks?
Jim Nill last summer had cap space and had built a team that was desirable to a player with a no-trade clause. That's how he was able to acquire Sharp from Chicago. If he's patient, will he be able to work a similar trade on defense this summer? If the opportunity presents itself, Nill seems to have the Stars prepared to jump.
There's much, much more at Heika's link. [SportsDayDFW]
Will Jamie Benn become the NHL's next 10-million-dollar man? Jared Clinton thinks so. [The Hockey News]
The most important photo gallery of the year is here: From Robocop to Wile E. Coyote and from Minions to matryoshka dolls, Sports Illustrated compiles the 2015-16 Goalie Masks of the NHL. [SI]
You didn't think Mike Rupp and Ryan Whitney forgot to preview the Western Conference finals, did you? They're up at The Players' Tribune now.
Last night in Round 3:
- The Pittsburgh Penguins got and gave up a two-goal lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning, but snagged the victory in overtime, 3-2. [Pensburgh]
For those who like to see your best players be your best players, here is a video of Sidney Crosby scoring the GWG in OT.
Meanwhile, Phil Kessel tied his career record with his sixth goal of this playoff season:
Back in January, Jonathan Drouin threw his toys out of the stroller over his role and ice time with the Bolts. After a cooling-off stint in the AHL, he's starring in the Stanley Cup playoffs and crushing the top-six minutes he always wanted. Here's how it happened. [Tampa Bay Times]
How long does the typical playoffs overtime last? Matt Larkin decided to find out. (Oh, #fancystats. Is there anything you can't do?)
There is playoff hockey going on in other leagues, you know. It took seven games, but the Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs) have gotten past the Albany Devils (New Jersey) and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals in the Calder Cup playoffs last night.
Meanwhile, at the IIHF World Championships: Is Vadim Shipachyov the "Russian Crosby"? Evgeny Kuznetsov seems to think so (maybe even unironically), and rumor has it the tournament's scoring leader is considering a move to the NHL. [Sportsnet]
Finally: For everyone who's already had enough of the coach's challenge (or just appreciates the manufactured drama of it), the TSN hockey panel becomes the Backcheck Boys to bring you this heartfelt power ballad about it. Enjoy.
P.S. TSN's BarDown blog has the outtakes. You're welcome.