Dallas Stars Could Part Ways With Oleksiak, Nemeth This Offseason

Nov 21, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth (15) and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (5) celebrate Oleksiak's goal against the Minnesota Wild during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth (15) and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (5) celebrate Oleksiak's goal against the Minnesota Wild during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Stars have a vast list of free agents to deal with this offseason including Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth. After years of never being able to reach the next level, is it time to part ways with the two defenders?

The game of chance plays a large role in professional sports. With each passing year, teams find themselves taking chance after chance, hoping for a significant payoff.

It’s a delicate game to play and can leave a team either in glory or in shambles. And whether they are big or small, every team is constantly taking chances. It could be something as minor as substituting one player out in favor of another in game 31 of the season or be as large as trading away a superstar role player in exchange for a shaky but promising rookie.

There’s different versions of the game, and every team plays it. Some teams get off lucky and only have to play the game a handful of times each season. Other teams get the short end of the stick and are forced to play the game every other night.

The Dallas Stars had to play the game of chance a lot this past season. They had to rely on rookies often, flip-flopped between starting goaltenders on a regular basis, and had to constantly flip line combinations and defensive pairings due to a massive number of injuries.

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Unfortunately, the results of the game of chance did not fall in their favor. The Stars ended the season on a 34-37-11 note, posting 79 points and missing the playoffs by a wide margin.

And what are you supposed to do when the game of chance does not go your way? Abandon it and try the next scenario. If something doesn’t work, there’s no point in continually pushing the bill in hopes of it eventually panning out. In the NHL, there’s no time to get stuck in redundancy. The speed of the game does not allow for that.

The Stars have tried to avoid the inevitable on a few things for the past few seasons, and it has hurt them more than it has helped them. One of the big things was the need for a starting goaltender, but the defense has been just as prevalent.

Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth are two defensemen for the Dallas Stars that have never hit their stride. The problem is that Dallas has been waiting four seasons for it to happen, and they have gotten nowhere.

Oleksiak made his debut with the Dallas Stars on February 1, 2013. Since then, he has yet to play a full season in Dallas and only has 119 games under his belt. To put things in perspective, that’s 119 games over four years. His biggest impact with the team came this past season when he just managed to play half of the season (41 games), scoring five of his six career goals and tallying seven of his 19 career points. He also has a horrendous -17 rating.

The 24-year-old is a big-bodied defenseman who can play physical and throw his weight around, but the Stars seem to have found a replica of him in Stephen Johns. And Johns already has 75 games under his belt in one year. He’s a physically active defender that provides help on the forecheck and back check and gives Dallas a big presence on the blue line.

Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars /

Dallas Stars

Meanwhile, Oleksiak continues to shift in and out of the lineup as a seventh and eighth defender. He has yet to solidify a starting role for himself in his five seasons with the organization, and that’s become a problem as the Stars continue to play the waiting game and fill in the gaps.

Patrik Nemeth is in a very similar boat. He made his debut with the Dallas Stars on April 1, 2014, but has only played in 108 games since. He brings with him zero goals, 14 assists, and a -8 rating.

While he is a flexible defender that can play solid minutes in the zone and move the puck, he has not earned a starting spot in the lineup since making his debut. Nemeth played in 40 games this season but was constantly in and out of the lineup in favor of younger options.

And now both are restricted free agents, and the question has to be asked: will this be the year that the Stars part ways with the two defenders?

It’s been four seasons of waiting and neither has established himself as a regular NHL starter. Instead, they have lost their spots to John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Julius Honka, and most recently Greg Pateryn.

With the young and promising defensive group that the Dallas Stars own now, they are shifting for the future. It doesn’t look as though Oleksiak and Nemeth are being included in that future. The Stars have spent the past few seasons trying to juggle 7-8 defenders throughout the year, and Nemeth and Oleksiak always seem to be in the seventh and eighth spots.

That would be okay if the two hadn’t been up here since 2013 and 2014 and missed out on multiple starting gigs because of younger players. It’s getting to where the Stars’ defense is getting crowded and they need to make some space.

Maybe it’s time for a fresh start for both sides. Both guys still offer talent as defensemen, and that could bode well for them in free agency. With the expansion draft coming up and both offering a promising future for a new franchise, the Stars could very well lose one of them to Vegas.

Both are RFAs and would need to be negotiated with, but that likely wouldn’t be a problem. Contract negotiations between Dallas and these two players have become complicated in the recent past, and it’s clear that the two sides aren’t seeing things in the same light. So maybe it’s time for them to negotiate with a new club that can actually use their talents.

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The Dallas Stars could very well bring both players back for another year and try them out yet again. But with an established defensive group that is built on the future, are their services still needed? A fresh start and new opportunity could be just what Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth need.

It will be interesting to see where Nill goes with it, but one thing is for sure: this game of chance has gone on for a bit too long. Something has to be done.