The Dallas Stars finally finished their last piece of offseason business in a late-night announcement on October 5th.
Restricted free agent Jason Robertson, who led the Stars with 41 goals last season and was second in points with 79 behind linemate Joe Pavelski, signed a 4-year bridge deal worth $7.75 million in average annual value.
“Jason is an integral part of the present and future of our team and we’re thrilled to have him for the next four years,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said in the press release announcing the signing. “Since he was drafted by our organization, he has worked tirelessly to become a better player every day. His knack for scoring goals and seeing plays develop on the ice are just some of the tremendous assets that he brings to our team. He is one of the best young players in the NHL and we look forward to seeing him continue to progress.”
The salary cap hit is one the Stars can fit under the cap ceiling without having to make any corresponding trades to move out salary so long as the team carries 22 players to start the season (13F/7D/2G), a coup for Nill. Based on Robertson’s offensive production being in the top 20 in the league last season, most anticipated that his number would start with at least an eight and wouldn’t have batted an eye if it started with a nine.
Jason Robertson comes in way under market value – which projects to be $14.1 million, on average, over the next four years – with this extension.— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) October 6, 2022
That next contract may not be as cost effective when the time comes... but at least Dallas has one of their Stars signed now. pic.twitter.com/ZoPLPDJf1p
The four year term may be more significant here, though.
It’s a contract that will see Robertson as a restricted free agent still at the end of it, with a qualifying offer base of $9.3 million for his next contract’s negotiation. But it’s also one year after Jake Oettinger’s bridge deal expires and he needs a new deal. It’s also after the contracts of Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Ryan Suter, and Esa Lindell come off the books. That’s $22.2 million in space coming off the books at a time when Dallas will need to re-sign one of their biggest core pieces.
Truly, an incredible length for the future of the team’s cap space usage.
Bottom line: the Stars managed to sign one of the rising stars of the league to a bargain deal, considering how much he’s worth to the offense of this team and who his comparable players are at this point in time.
This contract also protects the Stars, to a certain extent, if they’re worried that Robertson’s offensive production isn’t repeatable under new coach Pete DeBoer. They’re not locked into an eight-year max contract like they had with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin previously. Fair or not, the decline of those two players’ offensive production may have made the team hesitant to hand out another massive contract (not to mention they couldn’t take on a larger cap hit this season without sending someone out the door in a trade, and that market seems to be pretty limited right now with a lot of teams up against the cap ceiling.)
According to Matt DeFranks with the Dallas Morning News, Robertson is expected to fly to Dallas on Thursday and should be on the ice for practice with the team on Friday after completing all of his medical testing. The Stars play their last preseason game of the season on Saturday in Minnesota before opening the season on the road versus the Nashville Predators next Thursday.