The Dallas Stars seem to have a pretty set top six forward group as they head into free agency. Looking at the contracts on the books, and how the potential lines could shake out today, the forward group as a whole appears to be ready for success much like they were last season.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Mattias Janmark
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie - Cody Eakin - Brett Ritchie
So what's with the rumors that the Stars are interested in Milan Lucic, arguably one of the top free agents at forward this summer?
LeBrun again notes #Stars as team w/ interest. "Imagine Lucic and Benn on the same team. Oh my goodness."— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 28, 2016
For one, Lucic would offer a physicality that the Stars' current lineup doesn't have a ton of. He'd round out the bottom six nicely, and would allow Brett Ritchie to get a little more seasoning under his belt after missing a good part of last season due to injury. Ritchie is only 22, and general manager Jim Nill comes from the Detroit Red Wings school of over-ripening prospects. It wouldn't be completely out of the ordinary to send him back down.
However, what Lucic's game brings to the table seems to be something that Curtis McKenzie could contribute on the bottom six at a much cheaper rate. Lucic will be looking for a raise from his $3.25 million salary he made with Los Angeles last season.
The signing of Lucic doesn't hurt the Stars so long as the deal is a reasonable one in regards to cap hit and term. It would provide the Stars with a little more veteran depth, but if they're going to sign someone for that, I'd prefer they sign someone with penalty killing as part of their skill set. With the loss of Vernon Fiddler and Patrick Eaves to free agency, that's two big parts of penalty killing forward units that will need to be replaced next season.
The Stars signing Lucic really only seems to fit if they make a move to send a forward elsewhere for goaltending or defensive help. The key to reviewing deals and rumors at this time of the year is to wait and see what it all looks like when the dust settles, as moves are often made in anticipation of subsequent moves. You just have to wait for all the chips to fall before the picture is clearer.