In the toughest division in hockey, running to stand still is a slow route to irrelevancy. With the draft and the vast majority of free-agency action behind us, which Central Division team is better now than it was when its season ended?
Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated has ranked each team's summer moves so far, and he has found the Dallas Stars worthy.
GM Jim Nill allowed half of a 50-win defense walk out the door while adding only one experienced hand in free agency. Call it a leap of faith. Dan Hamhuis, the sole addition, fits a very specific need. He's a veteran defender who can saddle up alongside John Klingberg on the top pair and watch his back while the youngster spearheads the attack. And Hamhuis came in on a sweetheart deal: just two years at $3.75 million per. That's solid cap management. The other two jobs will be filled internally. Rookie Esa Lindell seems likely to take one. The other could be seized by part-timers Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth. The D will be younger as a result, but it might just be safer as well.
The offseason giveth, then it taketh away. There's one clear loser in the Central, and it isn't even the cap-strapped and first-round-exiting Chicago Blackhawks:
I supported the Blues and GM Doug Armstrong for refusing to re-sign aging forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer on July 1. That was the most prudent course of action with the long-term in mind. Short term, though? Their departures created two big holes, leaving this team far weaker than the one that advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
There's much more at the link. [Sports Illustrated]
Thursday's tragedy in Dallas rocked the entire community. The Stars organization took to social media to offer support and condolence, and so did Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Antoine Roussel.
Deepest sympathies to all those affected in Dallas tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with DART PD and Dallas PD.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) July 8, 2016
Be safe Dallas!— Jamie Benn (@jamiebenn14) July 8, 2016
Horrible news to wake up to today. Thoughts and prayers to Dallas PD DART PD and my city.— Tyler Seguin (@tseguinofficial) July 8, 2016
Seeing the news & saddened.All of my sympathies go out to the families of the brave officers and everyone affected.Be safe everyone. #dallas— Antoine Roussel (@Rous_ant) July 8, 2016
Friday was the final day of practice and skills sessions for the 2016 Stars Development Camp. Camp scrimmage starts at 10:30 a.m. today – check out Mark Stepneski's Periscopes from Stars Center Frisco at @StarsInsideEdge.
Here's inspiration for the new prospects – if they work hard enough, take care of their health...they may get to play beside this guy.
Jamie Benn stopped by camp to impart his wisdom on the young prospects. pic.twitter.com/hozJ3iks59— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) July 7, 2016
Photographer Dylan Nadwodny added yet more pictures from camp to his online album.
New netminding prospect Landon Bow talked about getting the chance to compete for a job in Cedar Park.
And Devin Shore, feeling "great" after the shoulder surgery that ended his season back in December, did some interviews as one of the young pros helping to lead the camp.
If you've ever thought #RaptorJesus was The Man, you're probably not wrong.
Observation from development camp: many prospects, unprompted, have told me how much they've learned from Rich Peverley.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) July 8, 2016
Another desert expansion team? Matt Larkin talks about the upcoming expansion draft and why the NHL has "stacked the deck in Vegas' favor" (pun intended). [The Hockey News]
Yesterday marked the beginning of the second week of 2016 free agency. Historically, it's not a good time to still be unsigned – but Sean McIndoe has the stories of five players, from Sheldon Souray to John Scott, who bucked the trend. [The Hockey News]
Will D-man Kris Russell be one of those UFA exceptions? Scott Lewis takes a look at several teams that may have reason to sign him. [Sportsnet]
The unseen toll of a major hockey trade. #WhoWillThinkOfTheChildren
Meanwhile, the Oilers made news again with the signing of defenseman Ethan Bear – a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds' U.S. Division and WHL Western Conference Championship team, and of Saskatchewan's Ochapowace First Nation. [CTV News Regina]
The Texas Stars have added more depth to their roster with the signings of forward Mike McMurtry and defender Brandon Anselmini.
Thanks to the @TexasStars organization, fans, and players for everything over the last two and a half years! Best of luck in the future!— Derek Hulak (@dhulak89) July 7, 2016
Take notice when the AHL adopts new rules, because there's always a chance they make their way into the NHL as well – and several new regulations will apply to fighting in 2016-17. DBD contributor Stephen Meserve takes a closer look.
Meanwhile, Sean Shapiro says sports photographers are already looking forward to the new rules regarding home and away jerseys. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]
The league's Board of Governors also approved a division alignment for 2016-17 that includes the Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers) and new T-Stars Pacific Division rivals the Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes). [Arena Digest]
Finally: No words needed.
Stars prospects paused development camp at noon to remember those killed, wounded in downtown Dallas. pic.twitter.com/1pMOZmljOm— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) July 8, 2016