NHL Free Agency 2012: Jarret Stoll

May 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll (28) moves the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes during the third period of game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Is Jarret Stoll the second line center the Dallas Stars are looking for?

He just might be.

Fresh off a Stanley Cup victory with the Los Angeles Kings, Stoll’s 4-year $14.4 million contract is expiring come July 1st. You either know Jarret Stoll for his absolutely dreadful regular season with the Kings, scoring just 6 goals and 21 points in 78 games or for his overtime heroics during the Kings incredible run. It was by far the worst offensive year of his career, but  the consensus is that this was due to being demoted to a third line role after the acquisition of Mike Richards last summer. This hypothesis definitely has the stats to back it up. Let’s take a look:

As you can see, Stoll’s best season came with that Western Conference Champion Edmonton Oilers team in 2005-2006, scoring a career high 22 goals and 68 points. As we all know, Edmonton quickly faded into disarray following their surprise Stanley Cup Finals run and Stoll, while still putting up decent numbers, couldn’t reach the same level of success he did in 2005-2006. Stoll was traded to his current home, the Los Angeles Kings in June of 2008 and produced three solid 40+ point seasons with the Kings in a second line center role right behind Anze Kopitar on the depth chart. Unfortunately for Jarret Stoll, the offseason acquisition of Mike Richards caused him to be moved down the lineup to a checking line center and as the stats show, he suffered dearly. Stoll still succeeded in other parts of his game, having the 18th best faceoff win percentage in the NHL and continuing to be a consistent presence on the Los Angeles special teams unit, where he averaged over two minutes per game on both the power play and the penalty kill, minutes comparable to both Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards. But his diminished role hurt his offensive production and most importantly, hurt his chances of returning to the Kings, making way for Stoll to test the free agent market, where he will no doubt sign with a team who can provide him with a bigger contract and a bigger role on the team.

Will that team be the Dallas Stars?

Stoll is definitely worth the look. He’s right in the middle of his prime and the Stars can afford to give him a raise on his current contract. For example, say the Stars offer Stoll a 4-year contract with an AAV of $4 to $4.5 million (a raise of $600K to $1.1 million from his current AAV). This amount puts him right between first line center Mike Ribeiro ($5 million) and who should be the third line center, Steve Ott ($3.2 million). Stoll is a veteran, he now has valuable playoff and Stanley Cup experience. Now imagine him coming in and letting Jamie Benn return to his natural role as a winger.  That should have Stars fans more than a little excited. The only catch is that a hypothetical contract of that size all hinges on the assumption that his horrible 2011-2012 regular season offensive production was a fluke due to a diminished role. With the Dallas Stars, Stoll would no doubt be given more minutes and because he’s a faceoff and special teams specialist, his responsibilities will increase significantly.

If the Stars can’t manage to pull off a blockbuster trade for a player like Jordan Staal (a scenario Blackout Dallas has already covered), the Stars will be forced to look at the free agent market if they’re serious about pursuing a top six forward and Jarrett Stoll might be one of the top options out there to solve the Stars’ lack of depth at center.   Having Stoll play with an All Star like Jamie Benn on one wing, and either a healthy Brenden Morrow or a young player that earns a spot on the other wing, the Stars could finally have a second line to be reckoned with. At the very least, it’d be a huge improvement over the Ott/Benn/Morrow-Vincour-Burish combination the Stars patched together last season.

What do you think, Stars fans? Is Jarret Stoll worth a look? Is he a no brainer? Should the team pass on him? Let us know.


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Tags: Brenden Morrow Dallas Stars Edmonton Oilers Free Agency Jamie Benn Jarret Stoll Jordan Staal Los Angeles Kings Mike Ribeiro Mike Richards Steve Ott

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