The Dallas Stars have a unique approach to the offseason this year. While every team wants to add to their roster for the upcoming season, the Stars are very much adding from within. They will be helped by the return of Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov, who all missed most or all of the 2020-21 season with injuries. They will also have a fully healthy Roope Hintz, Joel Hanley, Radek Faksa, and Joel Kiviranta after each player missed time and played through injuries last season. That is a large boost in itself, and it is possible that general manager Jim Nill believes that those are all of the additions needed at this time. However, the Stars will be losing a player to the Seattle Kraken at the expansion draft, they will not be re-signing Andrew Cogliano, and they saw last season how quickly injuries shatter a lineup. It would be smart for them to add some help to ensure that does not happen again.
While they are tight against the salary cap with only $15 million to spare (some of which will go to re-signing Miro Heiskanen), there are some options out there that could help them. Most likely, they will be adding a player to slot in on their third line, as they are fairly happy with their top-six forwards of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, Hintz, Joe Pavelski, and Jason Robertson. However, it is important that the Stars score more goals than they have over the past few seasons, so this player will also need to have the ability to produce offense at a higher level.
It would benefit them greatly to find players both in free agency and within their system that would allow their checking players Blake Comeau and Faksa to play on their fourth line, turning their third line into more of a scoring threat. They have some options on their roster in Denis Gurianov, Kiviranta, Adam Mascherin, Riley Damiani, and even Ty Dellandrea. When it comes to adding players in free agency, though, here is a look at their best choices.
This one is no secret if you have been around the Stars over the past few months. Coleman is a Plano, Texas native and grew up playing hockey in the Dallas area. The Stars have gotten to know him well as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning over the past two seasons and even better as he scored the dagger in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Coleman is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion that has the versatility to play anywhere in a lineup. He is a proven 20-goal scorer and a two-way player that fits right into the Stars’ defensive style of play. The combination of experience, responsibility, and production is exactly what the Stars are looking for on their third line.
Coleman also provides the feisty and gritty style that is lacking within the Stars’ dressing room. He is not afraid to get under the skin of an opponent and usually does so without taking too many penalties. Overall, it would be a great homecoming in Dallas if there’s a deal to be had. The downside is that Coleman seemingly drove his value up throughout the playoffs this season, which could create a bidding war across the league. With the Stars being so close to the salary cap, they would not fare well in any type of bidding war. Does he want to come home badly enough to do so for less money? We will find out.
Adding Seth Jones is a little less cut and dried than Coleman. This addition would only be possible if the Stars made changes elsewhere in the lineup. First, the Stars would most likely not be able to re-sign Jamie Oleksiak. Jones still has one year left on his contract with a $5.4 million cap hit, which leaves very little room for Oleksiak. This could potentially be a fit, but the Stars would also have to possibly trade away another player to make room. A name that comes up on that front is John Klingberg.
Latest Stars Content:
- Stars Show Aggressiveness Early in Free Agency
- NHL Rumors: Golden Knights, Ducks, Oilers, Sharks, Blues, More
- NHL Rumors: Rangers, Avalanche, Blues, Bruins, Stars, Oilers, Sabres
- NHL Rumors: Hurricanes, Devils, Stars, Canucks, Bruins, Maple Leafs…
- Diving Into the Dallas Stars’ 2021-22 Schedule
He has one year left on his current contract and will be due a fairly large raise. With the contract extension of Heiskanen right around the corner, it is unlikely that the Stars will re-sign Klingberg this summer, and it may prove difficult to do so next summer as well. The biggest question would be, who is a better fit, Klingberg or Jones? They are both similar players that bring a lot to their teams’ blue line. You could also argue that Esa Lindell is a better trade option than Klingberg, depending on what style of defenseman Dallas deems more vital. The other issue is if the Stars believe that the youngster Thomas Harley is ready to jump in and fill the hole this trade would make. While this one is more complicated, and there are many factors that could play into it, Jones is a Texas native similar to Coleman and is looking for a trade to a team that can win, perhaps another homecoming in the making?
Saad is a proven winner. He has two Stanley Cups and a mountain of playoff experience under his belt. Wherever he goes, he helps his team into the postseason. That alone is a huge addition to a roster full of young players in Dallas. In addition to that, he can score goals. He scored a career-high 31 goals in 2015-16 with the Columbus Blue Jackets and has yet to score less than 15 even in shortened seasons.
He averaged only 14 minutes of ice time in his limited role with the Colorado Avalanche but still found a way to add offense. That is exactly what the Stars are looking for. He is also a fairly responsible two-way player that could help boost their third line while keeping the checking abilities relatively high. He is coming to the end of his six-year deal, worth $6 million per year. If the Stars can find a way to perhaps lower that number a bit, which seems possible, he would be an excellent addition to their roster.
Hyman is a tough player to gauge right now. He has proven he has the ability to score, with multiple 20-goal seasons under his belt. He has playoff experience, although he has seen his team eliminated in the first round every season since he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015-16. The tough question is whether he is truly capable of 20 goals without the help of elite players like Auston Matthews and William Nylander on his line. His role with the Stars would not be on the top line, so he would need to be able to produce without players of that caliber by his side. The other question is whether or not he fits the role the Stars are looking for. Is he able to play well enough defensively and still produce? His value is expected to be between $4.5-$5.5 million, which the Stars could afford if they feel he is a good fit.
I am surprised this one has not been mentioned much, so I saved it for last. Foligno had a disappointing finish to the season after being traded to the Maple Leafs at the trade deadline. However, who didn’t have a disappointing finish to the season in Toronto? He is a proven leader being a former captain, a two-way player, has scored up to 31 goals in a season in his career, and should be more affordable after his playoff performance last season. His current contract comes with a $5.5 million cap hit, which is similar to the other names on this list. The Stars saw what adding leadership and experience did for them when Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry led them to the Stanley Cup Final in the Edmonton bubble, and Foligno could be a similar missing piece.
His scoring has decreased a bit over the past few seasons, but he seems capable of scoring 15 goals in a season, which is already a boost to the third-line production the Stars are used to. He’s also able to play either center or wing, which could prove vital with all of the injuries Dallas has faced. Plus, could it hurt to have one more former captain in the locker room? There are rumors that he may return to Columbus, and some believe that Toronto wants to give it another chance. I understand this one is a little more out of the box but compared to some of the other options such as Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and Tomas Tatar, it seems like the better choice to me, especially if he is willing to take a decreased salary for a chance to win.
It is important to reiterate that the Stars may potentially decide to solely upgrade from within, not adding any outside pieces to the roster this summer. However, Jim Nill saw that decision come back to haunt him when he stayed quiet last offseason and at this year’s trade deadline, so it feels that the pressure may be on to at least boost their lineup a bit. We will dive into the Dallas prospects and projected lineup changes in the coming weeks. But with all of the options that seem to be opening up, adding one key piece from the list above may just be enough to push them over the edge into a full-fledged contender.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!