As the NHL season becomes closer and closer to it’s long-awaited start, one point of the Dallas Stars master plan has not been completed yet: re-signing forward Cody Eakin and defenseman Brenden Dillon. With both players being classified as restricted free agents, their negotiating rights remain in the Stars’ hands, but that does not mean two new deals are imminent.
Though the two sides have been conversing and that has been the status for a little while, no new deals have been struck. The Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a Dallas Stars mini-series, “Ask The GM”, that negotiations were going good and that the organization was going to take the necessary measures to get both these players signed before the season begins. “We’re gonna get both players signed. They’re a big part of our team moving forward and they’re going to be a part of our future success, so we’re gonna get them done,” Nill said during the interview.
The only part of Nill’s confidence that falls into question is that the above statements were made three weeks ago. We are now two weeks and one day from training camp, and five weeks seems like a long time ago. But Nill is determined to keep them in Dallas. “They’ll be in Stars jerseys. I love both players. I love how they play. They’re first class men both on and off the ice which is important, and they’re a big part of our organization moving forward,” Nill said in response to the question of not if, but when Eakin and Dillon will be in Stars jerseys.
Cody Eakin boasted a true breakout year last season in the eyes of different Stars fans, playing a solid 81 of 82 games, the most of his three year career, and scoring 35 points, including 16 goals, tying for fourth most on the entire Dallas Stars team. Though he posted an ugly -9 average, the 23-year old kept his penalty minutes low and produced quality numbers in 17:20 average ice time. He has always been a producer since he joined the Stars, but last year was a true showing of how much he can produce. He also meshed well with Ryan Garbutt and Antoine Roussel, and the three are looking forward to another very successful year on the third line, a year in which they will be able to skate together much more due to the stability in the Stars top two lines from the additions of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. Though the Stars are strong down the middle on the first two lines, Cody Eakin will be a necessary infusion in the bottom half if the Stars want consistent scoring on their offensive attack.
Brenden Dillon did not live up to Stars fans expectations, though. After a complete 48-game lockout season where he debuted as a rookie and tallied a total of eight points, many Stars fans and personnel felt that the 23-year old was the new face of Dallas’ blue line. In his sophomore season, he struggled in amplifying his stats, even after playing 80 regular season games. He completed the season with six goals and 11 assists, the lowest amount of points throughout all of the Stars regular defensemen. But when it comes to defensemen, offense is not a giant necessity. But what Dillon brings to the defense is his physicality and hard-headed mentality. The Stars have suffered along the blue line over the past few years, and Brenden Dillon is the exact physical, big-boned threat they need, even with his points dwindling. Both players are up-and-coming stars, as Jim Nill said, and both are vital to the Stars’ success this coming year.
Jarrett Bousquet serves as agent for both Cody Eakin and Brenden Dillon. He is located in Frisco and therefore has a good relationship with the Stars organization. This will help with negotiations for both players, though a deal has yet to be struck for either.
The Dallas Stars are still in good shape regarding cap space, though Eakin or Dillon could significantly change that. With the NHL cap hit sitting at $69 million, the Stars are currently lingering around $64 million. Considering both players are young, they should technically still be subjected to small-profit deals. Eakin’s old deal was a salary of $550,000 and a cap hit of $572,778 and Dillon’s deal was for $900,000 salary for last year and a cap hit of $743,333. Considering both of these players are rising stars, they will be expecting their salaries to be raised substantially. This could end up working out, or the Stars cap could be affected.
As training camp nears, the negotiations will rise in severity and become more intense. It’s a two-ended stick when training camp starts, though. The Stars will feel the pressure when both of these young and talented players do not show up for any workouts, but the players will feel the pressure when they see less skilled AHL members skating in their positions, fearing that these players may end up taking their spot and demoting them in the process.
Cody Eakin and Brenden Dillon are two rising members of the Dallas Stars organization, and if Jim Nill is determined to bring them back, he will find a way to get what he needs, as he always does.
All fans can do is trust in Jim Nill and the Stars and know that sooner or later, new deals will be finalized. Jamie Benn and Antoine Roussel have put fans in similar situations before, but both have come out for the better of the Stars organization.
Do you want to see both of these players return to the Stars? If so, when do you think the right price will be agreed on by both sides, bringing these players back to Victory Green?
Leave your comments and questions below, and as always, thanks for reading!
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