Dallas Stars Daily Links: Finns, Forechecking, And Forward Lines

Matthew DeFranks discusses Miro Heiskanen’s next contract, as well as priorities that might be even bigger. Plus, Stephen Johns and the #MentalMiles movement, Tarasenko trade rumors, and more.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are over, but the postseason action has just begun. So what do the Dallas Stars do with two drafts, free agency, and the deals they need to close within their own roster?

Fans have questions. The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks provided some answers in his latest mailbag. The squad’s lack of scoring is turning into an evergreen topic among the faithful, and DeFranks considers free agency as one solution:

The targets are there out in free agency. Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Alex Wennberg, Brandon Saad, Zach Hyman, David Krejci and Mike Hoffman will all be middle-six forwards available in unrestricted free agency, with varying costs associated with each. Each one could come in and help the Stars immediately build the depth that they were lacking last season, whether due to injuries or roster construction.

In trades, Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25 million cap hit) could have been a fit for Dallas before he was dealt to Los Angeles on Thursday [July 1]. Dallas might not have the trade capital and cap space to acquire Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart (due a qualifying offer of at least $5.2 million). Maybe Tampa Bay tries to move Alex Killorn ($4.45 million) to soothe its cap crunch? If Arizona eats part of Phil Kessel’s $6.8 million cap hit, the winger could work in Dallas. Should Anaheim begin shopping Rickard Rakell ($3.789 million), the Stars could make sense.

DeFranks comes to every discussion with microstats in hand, so it’s no surprise that he has some observations about how the Stars can improve their game if they can lean on more pure scoring talent:

The Stars are in the “Creating off Forecheck” quadrant as a team that’s slightly above average on the forecheck and slightly below average off the rush. You’ll notice something about the other above-average forechecking teams: Of the eight teams to win a playoff series this year, seven of them were above-average on the forecheck. Winnipeg is the only team that was not.

That includes the high-flying Avalanche and the Panthers. These are teams that combined dogged forechecking with offensive skill to become successful, though they also rely on production off the rush. The Stars, I believe, can play this style and be successful (particularly in the playoffs: Hello, Islanders!) with another injection of skill.

But he doesn’t neglect the big question of Miro’s next (two) deal[s]:

For Heiskanen, the expiration of a three-year contract should be when the NHL is exiting its flat-cap era, opening up spending potential across the league. It would be when the Stars only have one more year on Jamie Benn’s contract with a $9.5 million cap hit, opening up more funds. With a bridge contract now, Heiskanen would be set up to massively cash in on his third one, especially considering he’ll likely be producing more offensively in the coming three years than he did last season.

There’s more under the link – including Matt’s thoughts on Ben Bishop, Riley Damiani, and other hot topics – including a question from our own Tyler Mair! [SportsDayDFW]

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