Today the Dallas Stars officially extended qualifying offers to six of their restricted free agents. A qualifying offer means that the team holds onto the players rights and they would have the right to match any offer that another team would make for one of their restricted free agents, or that the team would receive compensation if a RFA signs with another team. Team have until June 25 to submit offers. Here is the press release from the Stars website: Link.
Most of the players that did receive offers are to be expected. Richard Bachman and Mark Fistric are the two that contributed the most to the Stars last season, and both should be part of the team’s plans moving forward. Then Jordie Benn and Ryan Garbutt are the next two significant names. Both saw some time this season with the NHL club, and both at least look like they could be lower level contributors at the NHL level, or at least great AHL guys to have around that could move up when needed. The last two on the list of six to get offers are Colton Sceviour and Luke Gazdic of the Texas Stars. Both shouldn’t be players that Dallas fans will be clamoring over, but are usable at the AHL level and the organization obviously likes enough to try to keep.
The noticeable names not discussed so far? Philip Larsen, Tom Wandell, and Jamie Benn. Now don’t be immediately alarmed. The Stars do still have one week to extend offers, if they don’t have new deals worked out by then. And it is completely foreseeable that we could have a new deal or two announced by then. Benn and Larsen are both part of the Stars plans moving forward, and letting either possibly go will not happen. Benn has become the best player that they have had since Modano left and he could be the new face of the franchise as they move forward with new ownership with a new core. Larsen has been one of the better prospects in a weak system for years, and this season showed that he definitely could be a NHL blueliner with great hands.
But Tom Wandell? His time is Dallas might be coming to a close. The former 5th round pick from 2005 is now 25 and in the middle of a large amount of players that the Stars have that could play in the bottom six forward spots. Wandell was inked to a two-year deal for $1.55 million two summers ago after he finished the 2009-2010 season with 15 points in 50 games. He didn’t look like a stud, but the smooth skating Swedish forward looked like a possible 3rd liner or even 2nd liner if he could improve his offensive game. But over the last two seasons he has 24 points with a -10 rating in 147 games, playing everywhere from the 2nd line to the 4th line nightly.
Wandell doesn’t appear to be a lost cause or even troublesome player. It just appears that if this is as far as his game will grow, then he is destined to be a fringe bottom-six forward who might not be a better option than quite a few of the youngsters waiting to fight for a spot. He has good size at 6’1″ and 200 pounds and he might be one of the better skaters on the team, but at this point he looks like a future version of Tomas Vincour if he doesn’t pan out. The problem with that is that the Stars are trying to rebuild and get back into the playoffs, and have quite a few lower line forwards already in Vernon Fiddler, Eric Nystrom, Adam Burish if he is resigned, Garbutt, and Vincour. Add in Scott Glennie, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, Alex Chiasson, and Austin Smith likely to be fighting for roster spots this fall and next, and the room really isn’t there. Especially if the Stars start adding through free agency and trades, which they are expected to.
The team could still extend an offer at the last minute. They could be talking to Wandell this week trying to work out a contract or find out what he wants. But with the information coming out today regarding the Stars’ current RFAs, the signs are starting to point to option that Wandell might be released to become a unrestricted free agent next week.
Keep checking in to Blackout Dallas for free agent and draft coverage, and expect us to continue to discuss the free agents possibly leaving and coming in this summer as we move close to the free agency period. Follow Blackout Dallas on Twitter and LIKE on Facebook for more discussion!