The Stanley Cup Final matchup will be set tomorrow which means only one thing that really matters at this point: the 2018 season is finally almost over. The Dallas Stars have undoubtedly been at work piecing together how they would like the 2019 roster to look for months so I thought it would be as good of a time as any to see what they see by looking at how the salary cap picture looks.
I took the info Cap Friendly had for the Stars to make the table. I used @Cane_Matt ‘s Free Agent Predictions for the Stars RFA and UFA. RFA projections are italicized. Nichushkin is underlined because that’s my guess for what he eventually takes.
Antoine Roussel, Dan Hamhuis, Greg Pateryn, and Kari Lehtonen are UFA. I could see Pateryn coming back if he was fine being a 7th defenseman, but I don’t really see it with the others.
None of these projected contracts are bad outside of maybe Lehtonen, but look at how much roster space is already taken up. Without moving a defenseman they don’t have room for a regular lineup player so it’s currently hard to see how either Hamhuis or Pateryn fit. Roussel is fine, but with so many depth options who produce at roughly the same level he’s an extraneous expense.
I think we can confidently pencil in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Radek Faksa, Mattias Janmark, and Valeri Nichushkin into the top nine forwards. Jason Spezza should be there. That’s seven regular spots spoken for by guys already here.
Gemel Smith and Tyler Pitlick need to play. Remi Elie at least needs to be on the roster as a spare forward or in the lineup. What about Jason Dickinson? Roope Hintz? Nick Caamano? Jason Robertson? Denis Guryanov? At some point they have to get a shot or why even keep draft picks? The Texas Stars are on the verge of the Calder Cup Final, and right now none of those guys have a realistic path to NHL playing time.
That’s 15 forwards without ever discussing Brett Ritchie, Martin Hanzal, or Devin Shore. Those three are projected to make a little over eight million to be ok. Having depth is good. Having clutter isn’t.
If Hanzal needs to go on long term IR that will eventually open close to five million in cap space depending on how the Stars utilize their assets and open up a roster spot, but for a team that needs to improve offensively there isn’t a lot of room on the roster. The Stars could be pretty active in deals. 18 forwards and the only change is Nichushkin in for Roussel which doesn’t move the needle.
Some of that cap space is going to a goalie, but there is no reason to dedicate much of it to one. Andrew Hammond is probably the best target for the Stars, and Matt has him projected at a little over a million dollars. Do it.
Defensively there isn’t a ton of wiggle room either, but fortunately everyone is inexpensive. Marc Methot isn’t particularly good, and he makes close to five million. If the Stars really want to go off the board and improve the defense even more than by just adding Miro Heiskanen they could look to flip Methot.
The problem with that is….who kills penalties? Stephen Johns and Esa Lindell for sure. Is Jim Montgomery trusting Julius Honka, John Klingberg, or the rookie Heiskanen to kill them off? I probably would, but no one asks me.
We’ll go through the free agent list later this week and see if any fit. Matt already nailed the Evander Kane salary so we’ll treat it like gospel until proven otherwise. Spoiler alert: there isn’t much out there.