With some money to play with this summer and quite a few contracts expiring, GM Joe Nieuwendyk had a chance to change the Dallas Stars roster and shake things up a little. Joe did exactly that by bringing in a couple of great additions in Michael Ryder and Vernon Fiddler, and giving a few guys that were underused elsewhere a new home in Souray, Pardy, and Dowell. But what Nieuwendyk also did was let some minor players and unwanted guys leave. Of course we all know what happened to Richards, but what about the rest of the guys?
Jamie Langenbrunner was a feel good story when the Stars traded for him in the middle of last season to try to add some leadership and offense. But Jamie really didn’t click with the roster and spent the last couple of months bouncing between lines and playing alright but unimpressive hockey. Langenbrunner signed with the St. Louis Blues for one year and now will try to help the growing team there. Karlis Skrastins spent the last couple of seasons as one of the Stars top four Dmen, but the aging blueliner was definitely not as agile as he used to be. You could see that he still has a great hockey-mind, but the decrease in speed and agility could often leave him scrambling. Skrasts was not re-signed by the Stars, and now the Latvian native appears to have called it a career in the NHL. He has returned to the other side of the world and will play in the KHL this season. Brian Sutherby and Brandon Segal also found themselves without a home when the Stars did not try to re-sign either forward. Both had their moments with Dallas and neither was really disliked by the fanbase, but both were expendable and could easily be replaced. Sad thing to see is that both have not found a new team yet and are without a contract. (You can always follow Sutherby on twitter at twitter.com/briansutherby). And lastly there is Jeff Woywitka aka the Big Cat. Anyone know where he actually got that dang nickname? Oh well. Jeff was another plug for the team. He fit what the team needed right then, but was nothing special and really was only playing because of how weak the defense was. Last season he found himself playing more minutes, primarily with Daley, but the extra time on the ice also resulted in more mistakes. While he looked good for a while, by season’s end he was springing leaks left and right. Even after all of this I would have liked the Stars to sign him as a 7th or 8th guy where he played in Austin and was available if injuries hit. But Woywitka never looked to be in the Stars offseason plan, and he signed a one-year two-way deal with Montreal this week.
So addition by addition and subtraction? Quite possible. Of course the departure of Richards will hurt (and I promise to stop talking about it soon) and of course the team is still not a solid contender, but what Joe did looks amazing if you look past Richards. He let some of the Stars off-pieces and weak-links leave and filled those spots with some impressive role players, some young guys looking for a chance to earn more time, and a couple of vets in Ryder and Souray that have produced in the past and could greatly be helped by finding a new home. I do of course wish the best of luck to all of these guys that have left, and I would especially like to see Woywitka and Sutherby excel somewhere else.