Earlier today the Dallas Stars and Antoine Roussel reached a four year eight million dollar deal. You can read more about that here. Now that Roussel is signed, that leaves Dallas with only two more key players from last season without a contract – Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin, and finalizing those deals might reach into the end of summer.
Fans tend to get worried when key pieces of the team remained unsigned. It was only two years ago that Jamie Benn held out the first week or so of the season before signing the deal he is currently on, and some could argue that Benn missing those five games could have cost them a playoff spot. Dillon and Eakin are important pieces to the Stars roster, but they are not nearly as vital as Benn. The Stars have contingency plans in place and players that can fill those roles should either Dillon or Eakin miss any time. Eakin’s minutes could be replaced by Vern Fiddler, Shawn Horcoff or possibly Patrick Eaves. With Dillon, Patrik Nemeth is clearly ready for a bigger role, and Jamie Oleksiak is almost there as well.
Keep in mind that their not signing doesn’t mean that they are unhappy with their situation in Dallas. This is simply part of the business side of hockey and the players are using the tools at their disposal to create the best possible deal for themselves. What could make this process tricky is the fact that unlike arbitration, which compares salaries and contracts of comparable players, there are no concrete rules for either the team or the player to adhere to in cases without arbitration.
Dillon and Eakin’s agents will probably try to compare them to certain players around the league, but will the Stars accept those comparisons or will they counter by saying they are more akin to other, cheaper players? There is also the question of usage with Eakin as he played second line minutes and had decent offensive production but with the recent additions, will the Stars accept Eakin as a second or third line center? I have no problem with Dillon (Eakin, or any player) trying to get the biggest and best deal they can, but Dillon hasn’t proved that he is ready for a top end defenseman contract, which usually happens around the time the defenseman is near or at UFA status. After all, he only has one full season under his belt.
As with any negotiation, each side will most likely end up giving some and taking some, ending up a little bit off of where they want to be. Hopefully this can all be resolved prior to training camp and the Stars can put these two key players on the ice on opening night. If the either of the two hold out and miss time, the Stars should be able to keep their collective heads above water. At the very least, it does provide some water cooler fodder during the baron landscape that is the NHL summer.
As always, I welcome our comments. Thanks for reading and go Stars!