Reports came out right before the start of the Stanley Cup Finals last night that the NHL salary cap is expected to remain relatively flat. The cap ceiling for 2015-2016 was around $71.4 million. With the expectation that the salary cap stay at or slightly higher than $71.4 million, the Dallas Stars are in decent shape when it comes to roster players currently signed.
Here's what the Stars have on the cap for next season, including pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and restricted free agents (RFAs).
The Stars have 10 forwards currently signed for next season, with approximately $36.5 million committed on forwards for next season. The Stars will have two RFAs that will have some kind of raise on their cap hit heading into next season in Valeri Nichsuhkin and Brett Ritchie. With both of those young players signed, the Stars have 12 NHL forwards signed for next season. They could sign an UFA or two at forward if they feel that some of the younger players aren't quite ready for full-time NHL duty.
Defense is where the Stars look the thinnest heading into next year, with four signed -- one of which barely saw ice time this season. They've got three big parts of their defense coming up on unrestricted free agency, and a RFA in Jamie Oleksiak to re-sign. The Stars will likely be looking to add two or three players on defense through either trade or free agency to fill out their NHL defense. However, Esa Lindell has been turning heads in the AHL this season, and it's possible that he becomes one of the NHL defensemen out of training camp for the Dallas Stars next year. That's a fairly young blueline, so I would expect at least one veteran acquisition to add to Johnny Oduya on the backend.
As for goaltending, the Stars have two guys signed to big contracts between the pipes. The only expected change to the goaltending will be a possible trade scenario that sees at least one of these veterans go to a different team in a package deal. However, the Stars would be wise to shore up the depth of goaltending below the NHL level, as they have several guys to make decisions on and there isn't a guy that is developed enough to come in and challenge for an NHL job in the next few seasons.
In all, the Stars have about $56.4 million committed to 16 NHL players today (10 forwards, 4 defense, 2 goaltenders). That leaves them with probably $15 million in cap space to work with to sign RFAs and fill out their defensive core. Of course, they could make a trade where salary goes back the other way and that makes this whole analysis moot. However, even if the player to fulfill the needs of the team isn't available in free agency, the cap space the Stars have should make them flexible on the trade front as well.
The organization as a whole has plenty of evaluating to do, with several free agents also coming up for contracts in the lower levels. Here's an overview of the other players in the organization who will need new contracts or will be informed they can test free agency.