The Dallas Stars brought the decision down to the wire, but just hours before the deadline, the organization has extended a qualifying offer to center Tom Wandell.
When Wandell was left out of the first batch of RFAs to get qualifying offers, it was assumed that his time with the Stars may have come to a close, but things changed when the Stars #1 center, Mike Ribeiro, was traded to the Washington Capitals for 21-year old center Cody Eakin and a 2nd round draft pick. The trade left a massive hole in the Stars depth at center and many began questioning whether the Stars would have to extend a qualifying offer to Wandell to shore up the center position. If you take the team at face value right now, excluding all UFAs, the Stars center corps will in all likelihood be headed by Jamie Benn. Players like Vernon Fiddler and Steve Ott are not true number two centers, and until training camp rolls around, we won’t know where Eakin will fit into the mix. Ryan Garbutt, also a center, will spend most of his time on the fourth line with the opportunity to work his way up the lineup.
The bottom six is, for lack of a better word, stacked with centers. Where does Tom Wandell fit in?
He had numerous opportunities playing top six minutes last season and didn’t perform up to the standard. The Stars will without a doubt be looking towards free agency or trades to try and find a number two center, because surely they aren’t depending on Tom Wandell to fill that role. Wandell is an asset to the team and the organization obviously felt it necessary to keep him around. The big picture will become clearer with time as the roster fills out over the next month or so, but Wandell is by no means guaranteed a spot on this team anymore, he’s going to have to earn it.
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