NHL Free Agency: Dallas Stars Mostly Silent, Quality Players Still Available
It's going to be ok.
The first day of free agency saw a large amount of movement as it usually does. Mike Green is now a Detroit Red Wing. Andrej Sekera now gives the Edmonton Oilers an NHL defenseman. Michael Frolik has left the Winnipeg Jets to join the Calgary Flames.
Oh yeah, Phil Kessel finally got traded too. He's now a Pittsburgh Penguin after the Toronto Maple Leafs shipped him off for an underwhelming return, at best.
All these moves and all of this action happened, but the Dallas Stars remained mostly silent. Sure, they agreed to bring back Patrick Eaves, but this isn't the type of splash many hoped the Stars would make. They need defensive upgrades. Players who would make an impact are still available, but as of right now it appears that the Stars don't see them as fits.
Could the Stars end up jumping into the market for Cody Franson or Johnny Oduya? Anything is possible, but all indications are that they are staying out of the early free agent market, making sure not to go overboard on years or dollars. The contracts have actually been pretty reasonable so far, but how many players blow you away as massive upgrades to the current roster? Who is the one player the Stars can't live without who is available this free agent period?
No doubt there have been players sign that would improve the Stars. The biggest move they've made so far came before free agency even opened. They weren't active on day one, but it's important to remember that they filled their biggest need at the draft by acquiring and subsequently signing Antti Niemi. You can argue for or against several candidates for the spot, but a goaltender was at the top of their list. They got one early.
Now the Stars can patiently wait to see if and when a good fit comes up. When a fit comes up the Stars can strike. If a fit doesn't come up the Stars will go to training camp with this roster, which is improved by the addition of Niemi. John Klingberg will likely improve. Val Nichushkin and Patrik Nemeth being available for a full season will spur more internal improvements. Brett Ritchie or Curtis McKenzie could step forward as key contributors. Maybe even Ales Hemsky will rebound.
And all those questions are what is frustrating about where we sit on July 2nd. When circumstances are out of your control worry sets in. The Stars 2016 team, as of now, hinges on so many uncontrollable variables that it can be scary. Fans are expected to trust that things will go well, and that if they don't go well quality contingency plans are in place.
On top of that, the insecurity that builds up in a fanbase following an unsuccessful season can be a powerful driver of anxiety and panic that the team simply has to do something when free agency opens. No franchise can let panic guide their moves. The Stars haven't done that here, and they shouldn't as the offseason progresses. Moves will be there if the Stars want to make them as this goes along.
It's easy to forget that roster moves do happen after July 1st. Tyler Seguin was dealt to the Stars on July 4th, after the team was spurned by Vincent Lecavalier. Many free agents remain. Several teams are going to sign players who will then make players attractive to the Stars available in trade. Salary cap hell is going to swallow up some teams, and some teams who got swallowed up are still there. They're going to turn to teams who aren't. The Stars will be there.
It feels like we write this every year. It's OK to be worried. Personally, I would prefer more action. I would love to see some more defensive ability added to the forward group and/or a top four defenseman added. The Stars could surprise us today and add either or both of those. They could do it this week. They may not do it at all if the appropriate fit doesn't materialize.
No matter what happens the rest of the way the undeniable fact that they have already taken care of their top need is, well, undeniable. The goaltending situation is settled. Now we wait to see if any further improvements are possible at reasonable cost. This is a good team that took way too long to get its footing last year in a very good Western Conference. The apocalypse is not upon us.