The Stars were a surprise team last season, banking on incredible offensive output from young studs Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Losing a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round of the postseason put the team’s front office in an interesting, potentially dangerous position. Do they look at the results and get super aggressive in free agency? Or, since Dallas was literally 24 seconds away from advancing, would it be wiser for the club to make minor adjustments under the impression this success could be duplicated and improved with just a couple tweaks.
The Stars chose the former route, and made some marquee enhancements to their roster. They added talented vets by trading for Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza, then signing winger Ales Hemsky to a moderate, three-year deal. Both should contribute to a team already loaded with scoring threats.
On top of this, today, Dallas maintained some of their grit, and did so by avoiding dreaded arbitration. The Stars agreed to a new deal with French forward Antoine Roussel, signing him for four years and $8 million. It was looking like the two parties were headed for arbitration after contract talks were hitting snags, but now it appears the bullet has been dodged.
While Roussel isn’t as big of an offensive threat as other members of the team – 14 goals and 15 assists last season – he does add a ton of toughness. His 209 penalty minutes last year were third only to Tom Sestito (Vancouver Canucks) and Chris Neil (Senators). However, that he was able to contribute 29 points shows he’s not just a token tough guy.
The real win, though, is avoiding arbitration. It’s a situation no team wants to deal with, as they’re essentially trying to resign a player while also trying to convince a third party said player isn’t as good as they think they are. I can only imagine it’s about as fun as it sounds.
However, instead of the Stars being forced to low-ball Roussel via a contract mediation session which would’ve potentially damaged the relationship between team and player, the two sides were able to agree on a quality contract.
Dallas still has a little work ahead of them. Currently, there are only five defenseman signed on for the upcoming season. They have a little over $5 million in remaining cap space, so they should have the means to take care of this hole.
All that said, the Stars continue to have a high-quality offseason, with resigning Roussel without the need for arbitration being the latest example. Dallas wants to build off a major turnaround last year, and they’re doing a great job in setting themselves up for success this summer.