Stars looking to be active in the free agent market
This is where the big money is spent and the tears of regret flow for years. You must dabble and be aggressive at times, but you must be very careful not to lock down the wrong guy that saddles your future. The pickings are slim, but it appears the Stars are ready to shop. With the Bob Gainey hiring last week, many of the Stars brass spoke publicly about their intentions:
Stars president Jim Lites offered this: “We are without budget. As crazy as that sounds. We are restricted by only the CBA and fitting long and short term into that system…This is a different situation than we have been in for the last 4 seasons – which is we have an owner who is willing to spend and not being run by the league….We are prepared to spend what we need to spend, but we need to spend wisely.”
Then, I asked Tom Gaglardi if he anticipated the Stars being front and center on July 1 with all of this cap space. His response? “Uh, Yes. We have identified some guys we are going to pursue hard. And so we expect to be in the mix.”
The boldness and confidence with which these two men speak is quite wonderful to see. I think we can examine the shallow pools in free agency and see this is not the greatest summer to have loads of money. But, there are more than just one way to do this. You also have a number of teams who are now squeezed badly by the cap and are looking for some relief by dealing away a piece.
Lites: “You know what is out there now? The Brad Richards type. The reason we got Brad Richards is that he became available for prospects because Tampa Bay fell apart after they paid him. Other teams have lost flexibility and they may want to move that guy. Contracted players who either have no trade clauses but will waive it to come here and you may be able to work things through with that guy who may have a burdensome contract for their team. For instance, you see Jeff Carter in Los Angeles who Columbus didn’t want to keep.”
All parties agree that the Stars need 3 major parts. 2 Top 6 forwards and 1 defensemen, preferably that elusive #1 D-man. Those are expensive pieces and will cost some of these kids if the Stars choose to go that route. They would rather have kids fill these roles, but that takes patience and some luck.
Regardless, Gainey, Lites, Gaglardi, and Nieuwendyk now sit in a room and chart out an aggressive plan. And as a follower of this franchise for 14 seasons, including the last 4 that ended in early April, this excites me greatly.
Next time, let’s start to look at the roster, draft, and free agency. It is a big summer for the organization coming up.