As the Dallas Stars gear up for the NHL’s free agency signing period which opens on July 1st, they’ve completed a few signings to shore up depth in roster positions. The latest came down today when the team announced they had re-signed blueliner Taylor Fedun to a two-year, two-way contract.
Fedun was acquired by the Stars in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres in November of last season. The trade came at a time when the team’s defensive depth was being tested by a slew of injuries, particularly with a month-long injury to star defender John Klingberg. While Fedun was primarily acquired to provide some veteran depth at the AHL level, the amount of injuries Dallas had allowed him the chance to play in the NHL.
Once there, Fedun’s hockey sense and ability to adapt to what the coaching staff wanted to see from their blueliners provided a stabilizing factor for the bottom pairing. As the team returned to health, these factors kept Fedun in the lineup through the remainder of the regular season. Fedun set career highs for games played (54), goals (4), and points (11) with the Stars this past season. He also appeared in seven of the Stars’ 13 post-season games, including the last two games of the Stars’ closeout of the Nashville Predators and five of the seven games in the second round versus the St. Louis Blues.
The two-way nature of Fedun’s new contract moving forward gives Dallas some solid defensive depth and flexibility at the NHL level. According to CapFriendly, Fedun will carry a $737,500 cap hit at the NHL level, while making approximately half that amount if he’s in the AHL. Since he’s proven he can be a solid fill-in when injuries inevitably strike, and with the status of Stephen Johns still unclear, this signing gives Dallas another cost-efficient option on the blueline as part of the organization’s depth chart.
Most expect Dallas to look for a top four blueliner, if available, on the free agent market or in a trade in order to shore up the depth behind Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, and Esa Lindell. However, with nearly every key defensemen from last season signed for the upcoming season (including Roman Polak, Jamie Oleksiak, and Johns to join the big three and Fedun on the depth chart), it’s possible that general manager Jim Nill concentrates solely on acquiring forwards that actually know how to score — the biggest flaw on the roster for two years running now — and can afford to stand pat with the defense he has signed if nothing truly beneficial is on the market to upgrade the blueline.
After all, defense wasn’t actually the issue with the Stars last season — it was a strength (even if that narrative hasn’t quite died for some media members that watch a handful of games each season would have you think otherwise and somehow missed the amazing season Heiskanen had here.)