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Talking Goalie Depth, Cap Splinters And Shoot-out Executors (Around The Stars Universe Vol. 5)

When it comes to the goaltending, the Dallas Stars have a clear hierarchy on the NHL level for the utilization of their goaltenders. Jake Oettinger is the clear cut number one, even though he is still very young for a goaltender and, as we recently found out, not immune to injuries either. Luckily for the Stars, Scott Wedgewood is what I call an ideal backup. Cheap, content with his role of supporting Oettinger but also very much capable of taking the handle when needed. What is the situation beneath the NHL level though?

Goalie depth of the Stars organization

In the minors, you have an up-and-coming recent signing in Matt Murray who has shown nice promise, posting a 2-3-0 record and 0.912 save percentage in the first six games he played in the AHL this season while being nothing short of excellent in his short cameo last year after his university duties were done. After him, the debate gets interesting. Everybody around the Stars knows they buried part of Anton Khudobin’s cap hit but he’s still counting for more than $2.2 million against the cap. And as evident a couple of weeks ago, he’s not even eligible to be called up unless something changes with Dallas’ salary cap situation. He’s picked up his stats in the last three games and now sits with a respectable 4-2-2 record and 0.913 save percentage.

So what’s best for the organization when it comes to the goalies on the AHL level? Having Murray be the starter and Khudobin the experienced back-up while having Remi Poirier, who had a great debut in the AHL last week, hone his craft and seek as many starts as possible in the ECHL? Or is it better from a development perspective to continue seeking a trade for Khudobin and have Murray and Poirier split starts for the Texas Stars? In order to do so, Khudobin needs to be showcased as much as possible which means less starts for Matt Murray in the process.

We don’t need to discuss that trading Khudobin is the best way to go cap-wise. Especially if you can find a team willing to take on his deal without having to pay extra. But if that doesn’t happen, Khudobin can still actually help the Stars on the NHL level, especially if there is an injury to either Oettinger or Wedgewood. This could let Matt Murray play as many AHL games as possible.

So, when can the Stars call up Anton Khudobin, if necessary?

The Dallas Stars’ official cap space with Matej Blumel on a 22-man roster is $93,424. However, their current accrued cap space with Matej Blumel on the roster is $114,460 as of writing this article. How is that possible?

The latter amount rises every day thanks to daily accrual – essentially, banking your unused daily salary cap space which allows you to fit larger contracts into your salary cap picture later in the season. It’s an important data point for Mark Janko (the Stars’ cap guru) and company when they decide who to call up. They needed to sign Matt Murray to an NHL contract because they didn’t have necessary space for Anton Khudobin’s call-up cap hit this early in the season. There is an $82.5 million cap space for every day the NHL Regular Season is played (184 days, starting October 11th and ending April 13th).

If you don’t use the space, that amount of money you have left every day accrues to the total you can use later in the season. That is why Stars tend to do the trick with sending the player down officially before 5 PM and calling the player up after 5 PM, which counts as a new day in a cap accruing system. That way they can accrue more money even though it doesn’t make any difference as to who attends which practice. They did it with Matt Murray being officially sent down on November 9th, with Matej Blumel being officially called up a day later, even though both transactions occurred on the same day.

Once the current accrued cap space with Matej Blumel on the roster reaches the $200,000 mark, Anton Khudobin can be recalled to the NHL team in case of an injury but you would also need to send Matej Blumel down, as he is still waiver exempt and counts for $925,000 against the cap. When you add that to the accrued cap space of $200,000, you get to the necessary threshold, which is Anton Khudobin’s call-up cap hit of $1,125,000, making the move possible.

Current projected deadline cap space for the Dallas Stars is $411,510 which tells you two things. If there indeed is an injury for Oettinger or Wedgewood again, they could theoretically recall Khudobin at that time (and even probably a month or two sooner), but they’d probably need to send a waiver-exempt player to the minors and the only ones who meet the criteria are Ty Dellandrea, Matej Blumel, Wyatt Johnston and Nils Lundkvist. Of the bunch, Matej Blumel seems like the most probable choice. Blumel and Lundkvist carry the biggest cap hit of those players at $925,000 but we don’t need to double down on how Lundkvist is a much needed player on this Stars roster than Blumel, at least now.

Moreover, sending Lundkvist to the minors is risky from a performance bonus perspective as well. If the Stars are forced to use an LTIR salary cap relief and a player is called up from the minors, you need to take into account also the maximum possible performance bonus the player can achieve as is stated in his contract. Nils Lundkvist has a $850,000 performance bonus, making his cap hit essentially $1.75 million if the Stars dip into the LTIR pool. I wanted to mention that even though chances of having Lundkvist in the minors again are basically non-existent.

Realistically, from players actually eligible to be called up, it’s Thomas Harley with the highest performance bonus at $425,000 making his LTIR call-up cap hit just a smidge under $1.29 million. It’s just a small splinter that I wanted to mention as the season progresses and injuries are bound to occur. Another one: Mavrik Bourque actually doesn‘t carry any performance bonuses in his ELC deal. That could help his case to be called up down the line as well.

The other way to create cap space is via trade or sending a waiver-eligible player with a considerable cap hit through the wire. Say Pete DeBoer does the unthinkable and waives Radek Faksa, as there hypothetically wouldn’t be any takers on a trade market. In that case, the Stars could recall Anton Khudobin right away as they could only bury $1.125 million of Faksa’s contract and that’s the exact amount of cap space they’d need to possess to call up Khudobin without any wrinkles. Just food for thought.

I’ve discussed last week how I think Radek Faksa hasn’t fit into the Pete DeBoer system and I could see him being one of the players on their way out rather than say, Denis Gurianov, who, when he gets his game together, can be an effective weapon in DeBoer’s system. I’m not advocating for a trade just to make a trade, but when you’re forced into the decisions due to the things you can’t control (injuries), you need to consider all the available solutions. It may be unthinkable for some right now, but even Sean Shapiro mentioned Faksa’s struggles on his recent appearance on a Spits and Suds podcast.

What is the ideal shootout order?

Dallas is currently 9-5-1 after playing the first 15 games of the season, but they’re still yet to participate in a shootout. There are many people who don’t like it and I get the reasons, really.

Even though it’s really a glorified skills competition, it’s also fun. When the shootout was deployed in 2005-06 season, it was really a fresh change for the fans and you also knew coming into the game that there will be a winner, instead of a dull tie. Now look how NHL uploads the entire shootout highlights on their Youtube Channel. They don’t even do that for the 3v3 overtime at all times, come to think about it.

Nevertheless, the reason why I like shootouts is the Stars are generally quite good at them. When they instituted them in the post-lockout season, Dallas participated in 15 shootouts. For those who don’t remember, they went 11-0 up until they lost to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in late March and overall won 14 (!) of them mostly thanks to moves like these.

Now? Who are your executors? What is the ideal constellation?

Statistically, the best shootout scorer on the team is Tyler Seguin, scoring on 18 out of 37 attempts in a Stars jersey (48.65%). He was equally as good when playing for the Bruins, scoring 13 times out of 27 attempts (48.15%), which amounts to 31 tallies on 64 attempts in total (48.44%). Pretty, pretty good. He has to be on the list.

Next comes Joe Pavelski, scoring 46 shootout goals out of 121 attempts (38.02%) during his entire career. Seven of those goals came wearing Victory Green out of 18 attempts (38.89%).

The player who has taken part in only 13 shootouts attempts during his young career is Jason Robertson, but he managed to score in five of them, making his overall shooting percentage a very respectable 38.46%. I personally think that with his self-confidence and skill set rapidly growing, he can even improve on that. Anytime a player has a shooting percentage over 33% in a shootout, generally, you gotta utilize it. For reference, Jamie Benn has only 29%, scoring on 14 out of 48 attempts which is not entirely bad but you probably can find better options before you go to the captain.

That is why my go-to trio would be Seguin, Robertson and Pavelski (not particularly in that order). Who comes after them? Luckily, the Stars have plenty of candidates if the shootout goes the distance. Who are you picking out of Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, Wyatt Johnston, Mason Marchment, Jamie Benn or even Miro Heiskanen?

I’m going with Ty Dellandrea. I couldn’t find any OHL stats for the shootout but he’s my dark horse because a) goalies don’t have a read on him yet and b) he as a slick pair of hands which he showcased many times for Flint and even in the AHL for the Texas Stars not only in shootouts but also during the game on his breakaways.

After him, it’s really dependent on the actual self-confidence of a player in a particular game – say Gurianov gets hot, then maybe you could try him. Roope Hintz should definitely also be in the mix as he has a knack for scoring breakaway goals due to his speed and has a wicked shot. Mason Marchment has slick moves as well and then there’s still Jamie Benn with his patented five-hole attempt or a backhand move. And don’t forget Wyatt Johnston. In a few years, the Stars will have even more of an abundance of skill and picking just three guys could refresh our memories of that funny 2005-06 season.

When you add you have a worthy Marty Turco successor in Jake Oettinger (if not even more), they could even top their own record of 11 straight shootout wins.

You just watch.