The news came out on Tuesday that the Dallas Stars had not extended a qualifying offer to Richard Bachman and also were not going to re-sign Tyler Beskorowany to a contract. With both of these goaltenders most likely leaving the organisation it means that the Stars only have three goaltenders signed to contracts in the professional leagues.
Richard Bachman remains an option for the Stars as he tests the free agency waters, but there are no guarantees.
Outside of the pros they have Henri Kiviaho in Finland, still at least two or three years away from seeing professional time in North America, Maxime Lagace, who will likely be assigned to the ECHL after he lost his starting job in the QMJHL, and finally newly drafted Phillipe Desrosiers, who will spend the next two season in the QMJHL.
Assuming Lagace is assigned to Idaho this will mean that the Stars have four goaltenders signed to Dallas contracts in the pros. Kari Lehtonen, who will be the starter in Dallas, Cristopher Nilstorp, signed to a single year two way contract, Jack Campbell, who will spend his time in Austin next season, and Maxime Lagace, who will probably be in the ECHL.
With this lack of goalie depth, and the feeling they want to have competition for the backup job in Dallas and to give more time for development to Jack Campbell, it seems likely that the Stars are going to have to bring in another goaltender into the organisation.
Who they bring in depends a lot on how they feel about Nilstorp and whether he is capable of being the fulltime backup to Kari. He showed some good things and some bad during his time in the organisation so far but with the Stars seemingly wanting to make a push for the playoffs next season could he be usurped by a free agent goaltender signing?
Acquiring a veteran on a short, possibly two way (though that seems unlikely), contract would help solidify the Stars goaltending depth in case of injury.
Who could they be looking for? There are obviously a few big names who are hitting free agency this year, the big example obviously being Ilya Bryzgalov following his buyout by the Philadelphia Flyers. While I don't see him being the Stars aim he obviously would help take the load of Lehtonen's shoulders. What kind of term or length he would want is unknown to me, though the money he is getting from the Flyers might dampen his desire to get a hugely long or expensive contract.
For me it appears that the Dallas Stars might look for someone like Ray Emery. He's been bouncing around the league and is a classic example of a journeyman goaltender. He's just come off a Stanley Cup championship with the Chicago Blackhawks and the past four contracts he's had have all been a single year contract where he was paid less than $1.5million. He played 22 games last season and finished with .922SV%.
He would be a solid backup behind Kari Lehtonen and would compete with Nilstorp to get the best out of both players. It would also lessen the pressure on Jack Campbell who will not have to face a potential callup to Dallas yet and also not rush his development and responsibility in Austin.
Unfortunately, Ray Emery is close to a contract extension with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Other free agent veteran goaltenders the Stars could be looking for include Evgeni Nabokov, Jose Theodore or Dan Ellis.
Another thing the Stars might decide is to sign Idaho Steelheads goaltender, Josh Robinson, to an ELC and bring up to Austin to share the load with Jack Campbell if they do decide against signing a veteran goaltender. He has been impressive in the ECHL with a .925SV% in 39 games last season. If he continues like that I find it very hard that the Stars will risk another team swooping in and signing him to an NHL contract. Robinson is currently only signed with the Texas Stars.
The Stars have options when it comes to this situation but its clear that with the departure of two professional goaltenders they need to bring at least one more into the organisational fold to secure a solid pipeline of goaltenders that could be called upon in the case of injuries.