The Dallas Stars had a lot on the agenda heading into free agency and they addressed those issues in about four-and-a-half hours on Friday.
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk added a top six forward in Michael Ryder, beefed up the forward depth with Vernon Fiddler, Radek Dvorak and Jake Dowell and addressed some needs on the blue line with Sheldon Souray and Adam Pardy.
In all, it added $11.25 million to their salary cap costs for the season and got them over that cap floor everyone was fretting about a few days ago. And they didn’t really hand out any ridiculous contracts. The longest term is the three years to Fiddler, and considering his reliability as a player that’s a fair term. Pardy getting $2 million per year seemed high, but not absurdly high.
Nieuwendyk left the door open for some more moves, but seemed to indicate the major work had been done.
“I think we’re happy today, but there could be some tweaks,” Nieuwendyk said. “We’re always going to keep our eyes and ears open to help our hockey club, but I can’t say for sure that this is what we’ll start with.”
As it stands right now, the Stars had a first day in free agency.
In Ryder, who has the 30-goal mark a couple times, they got a right shot that put the puck in the net. That’s been something they’ve needed.
In Fiddler they got a top notch checking line guy who can win faceoffs, kill penalties and do all those little things that will help you win games. Those guys are important and they got a good one in Fiddler.
Dvorak’s a pretty talented guy who can move up and down the lineup, pop in some goals and kill penalties. Nothing wrong with some experienced versatility.
Souray is bit of a gamble, but he’s on a very palatable one-year contract for $1.65 million. The Stars have needed a big shot from the point and there aren’t many bigger than Souray’s shot. He’ll bring a much needed dimension to the Stars power play.
We’ll see with Pardy and Dowell. Pardy is a defenseman the Stars think is trending up. Dowell looks like a depth guy who can bring some grit to the lower lines.
Overall, it looks like Nieuwendyk accomplished what he wanted. He wasn’t going to replace Brad Richards or his offense with one player, so he used the money he had available to add players that addressed several needs and will help fill some voids left by Richards’ departure.
The Stars are deeper and more balanced. Ryder and Souray will be nice additions to the power play, where Richards was a key player. Fiddler and Dvorak should be a boost to the penalty kill, which has been a sore spot in recent seasons.
Time will tell how it all works out. It all looks good right now when you ponder it on paper and in theory. And that’s not a bad thing because it’s a sign that the Stars were able get what they needed in free agency, and they were able to do with some smart, reasonable signings.