The Dallas Stars traded a second round and third round pick for offensive help at the deadline this past season. In the form of Mats Zuccarello, Dallas found a legitimate second line scoring threat that seemingly unlocked the roster potential, slotting some guys down into the roles that made them most successful down the stretch.
He was also dynamite in the games he played in. Of course, Stars fans will likely wonder what could have been had Zuccarello not been injured in his first game after being traded to the Victory Green or had been 100 over 100 for the playoffs. The “holding call that wasn’t holding” on a Zuccarello chance that could have won the game for the Stars versus St. Louis to move them into the Western Conference Final looms large, too.
When it came time for free agency to hit, Stars fans had some optimism that Zuccarello could be re-signed. There were rumors that the Stars made a four-year contract offer to the winger. At 32, this is likely Zuccarello’s last big contract. However, Zuccarello decided to see what the market held for him. What it offered was too enticing to turn down — Zuccarello agreed to terms with the Minnesota Wild on a five year, $30 million contract ($6 million average value).
Good for him on getting paid. But Dallas has seen how those kinds of contracts work out near the end, and the drop off in production can come at you fast. Additionally, the longer term could handcuff the Stars when it comes time to pay John Klingberg what he’s worth and when Miro Heiskanen gets paid coming off his entry level deal. So in a lot of ways, while it would have been really nice to see the Stars keep the band together, so to speak, heading into next season, it’s not the worst thing in the world to see him walk.
He’ll always be a cult classic around here anyway based on his short stint here — and the point-a-game pace he provided for the deepest run in the playoffs seen in Dallas in years.
Jason Spezza Goes Home
Spezza signed a $700,000 contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, his childhood hometown team. He’ll likely slot in as the Leafs’ fourth line center or occasional healthy scratch in Mike Babcock’s squad.
Ryan Hartman, We Hardly Knew Ye
Hartman also agreed to terms with the Wild today, signing a two year contract worth $3.8 million total ($1.9 million annually). The forward was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers that saw Tyler Pitlick jettisoned off the roster. The restricted free agent was then not qualified by the Stars, becoming free to sign with any team on July 1st.
Brett Ritchie Ships Off To Boston
Ritchie, who was also not qualified as a restricted free agent by the Stars, has signed a one year, $1 million contract to play for the Boston Bruins. His big size, propensity for penalties, and ability to fight should fit well with the Bruins system.