The Dallas Stars offseason may not have been the busiest of the NHL teams, but they certainly made good use of it by signing some veteran players to insert into the lineup.
The Stars first order of business in the offseason was to sign right winger Brett Ritchie to a one-year, one-way deal worth $875,000. Ritchie should help the already loaded offense score some goals and he can be used on the power play, if needed. Jim Nill also locked up defenseman Jordie Benn, brother of the Stars captain, Jamie Benn. Jordie was signed to a three-year, $3.3 million contract. He will be a depth defenseman for the Stars getting either third pairing minutes or being the extra defenseman. Dallas then traded one of its project goaltenders, Jack Campbell to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Nick Ebert.
They lost some key parts from last season’s success like Vernon Fiddler, Kris Russell, Colton Sceviour, Jason Demers and Travis Moen, who remains an unrestricted free agent. The Stars also traded defenseman Alex Goligoski to the Arizona Coyotes, where he signed a new contact.
The Stars got some help on the blue line by signing veteran Dan Hamhuis to a two-year, $7.5 million contract. Hamhuis will help to replace Demers and Goligoski on the back end and bring in another veteran presence to help with what is likely to be a young blueline.
Nill signed defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk to a two-year, two-way contract worth $1.45 million and re-signed defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to a one-year, $918,750 contract.. Patrick Eaves was re-signed to a one-year, $1 million contract. Dallas also signed forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year, $600,000 two-way contract. Cracknell should help with the forward depth for the organization.
The Stars captain, Jamie Benn, was next on the to do list for the Stars and Nill. They gave him a new eight-year, $76 million contract, with a cap hit of $9.5 million per season. The deal will kick in starting in the 2017-18 season.
The biggest offseason acquisition was the signing of right winger, Jiri Hudler. Hudler signed a one-year, $2 million deal and he will add to the depth of the Stars up front. He can play either right wing or left wing and will add to the offense of the team. He isn’t the best defensive forward but he does enough to get by. The forward can be streaky, but that’s something that the Stars can take a risk on considering how good their offense can be. This is a low risk, high reward signing for Dallas.
The biggest question mark heading into the offseason was the goaltending situation. The Stars decided to stick with the duo of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, despite their less than impressive play during the playoffs last season. The contracts seemed like they would have been difficult to move especially with most teams only looking for backup goalies and not starters.
The Stars made minor changes to the lineup, but expect the defense to have a different look with some of the youngsters getting a shot at making the team.