Who might the Dallas Stars lose to the expansion draft in the summer?
Time to see what the stars can do for an encore.
Months after falling in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay, the Stars will have another shot at the Cup at the start of the NHL season on January 13th. Dallas will open training camp on January 3rd and play a 56-game regular season schedule in the revamped Central Division, which will include rivals from the normal division Chicago and Nashville, as well as Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Columbus and Detroit.
With the season on the horizon, let’s take a look at 10 questions facing the stars. Here is the first part of the 10-part series.
10. Who could the stars lose against the expansion plan in the summer?
This has been a familiar question about the stars in recent years – since Seattle’s entrance was revealed – and has been dissected many times, but cannot be ignored as a plot for the season ahead.
This season will help determine the few decisions the stars have yet to make on their protection list, as well as who will be most attractive to the Kraken in July.
Since the rules for the Vegas draft expansion are the same as for 2017, the Stars will likely protect seven forwards, three defenders, and one goalkeeper. The other option is to protect eight skaters and one goalie. However, this would mean the Stars would protect a fourth defender more than three additional strikers. With Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak having unrestricted free agents this summer and the potential Thomas Harley not being able to be selected, the stars lack a defender worth avoiding the 7-3-1 format.
General manager Jim Nill has to protect four players from non-movement clauses: strikers Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov and goalkeeper Ben Bishop. Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov and Radek Faksa will be protected after each new contract signing this off-season. On the blue line, John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, and Esa Lindell are the obvious choices.
The stars essentially have to make a decision: do they want to protect Joe Pavelski or Jason Dickinson?
Pavelski will be 37 when the draft expansion is in, and he will have an expensive cap hit of $ 7 million (and a $ 8 million salary) for the final year of his contract. During his first season in Dallas Pavelski was underutilized by 14 goals during the regular season, but led the team with 13 goals in the playoffs.
Pavelski’s declining production and high price could be enough to deter Seattle on its own, and Dallas protecting it would be an unnecessary measure. But Pavelski is also a well-spoken ex-captain familiar with the Pacific Division, a marketable face for an expansion franchise to build on.
For Dickinson he has developed into one of the most versatile players of the stars, who can play up and down in the line-up both in the middle and in the wing. His offensive advantage is limited, but he will be a 26 year old restricted free agent who is a defensively responsible and above average skater. It’s also possible that Ty Dellandrea impressed enough during the season to make Dickinson a luxury the stars could part with.
The Dickinson exposure could also be the Stars’ best defense against the Kraken picking goalkeeper Anton Khudobin. With Bishop as a protected goalkeeper, Khudobin is exposed. The best way to keep khudobin is to provide a more attractive destination. Dickinson could fit into this form, especially if goalkeepers Jake Allen (Montreal) and Brayden Holtby (Vancouver) are expected to be available.
The stars may also want Seattle to take Khudobin to clear the way for potential Jake Oettinger into the NHL.
Assuming the stars are protecting Dickinson, the Kraken will decide whether to take Khudobin or Pavelski.
Seattle will take a closer look at Khudobin this season when he and Ben Bishop are the team’s # 1 goalkeeper for knee surgery. The almost 36-year-old has never been a full-time starter, but maybe the Kraken doesn’t need Khudobin to be the front runner with Holtby. It also has to be weighed whether two more seasons of Khudobin with a cap hit of $ 3.333 million are worth it (the price is okay, but the run time may not be).
The only hiccups left in this plan is that the stars wouldn’t meet the requirement to expose at least two strikers and a defender who played either 40 games between 2020 and 21 or 70 games between 2019 and 21. On a pro-rata scale, that would mean 27 games in 2020-21.
Andrej Sekera would meet the defense requirements, as would Dickinson or Pavelski, whoever is left unprotected. Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau, and Justin Dowling wouldn’t work as they are both UFAs in the summer. That leaves Nick Caamano and Joel L’Esperance the best remaining options.
The Stars could also trade a player who has played enough games or sign Cogliano, Comeau or Dowling on a one-year contract to meet the requirement.
Find more star coverage from the Dallas Morning News here.