Dallas Stars: Addressing Their Cap Space Problems

After yesterday’s moves, the Dallas Stars are now officially over the cap. Considering they have until the beginning of the 2017-18 season to get back under it, let’s take a look at how that will happen.

It’s official: the Dallas Stars are in the “no-no” zone in terms of their cap space. In other words, the Stars are over the cap and have around two months to fix it.

On Friday afternoon, the Stars re-signed defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to a one-year contract, officially clearing all pending and qualified free agents from their roster. While the deal is short term and involves a small salary, Dallas already had little to no wiggle room.

The Dallas Stars began the offseason with around $20 million in cap space and spent frivolously in an effort to hopefully make the team better in all areas. They brought in big names like Ben Bishop, Marc Methot, Martin Hanzal, and even Alexander Radulov in an effort to beef up the team’s offense, defense, special teams, and most importantly, goaltending.

These moves will likely help the Stars out tremendously in the upcoming season (and if they don’t, the future of Dallas could be in serious turmoil). But with all of the talented additions came pricy hits to the cap. Bishop, Methot, and Hanzal are costing just under $5 million each in their respective cap hits. Radulov, on the other hand, is costing a hefty $6.25 million a season.

In addition to the free agent signings, the Stars also had to re-sign a number of restricted free agents to new contracts. Those free agents included Radek Faksa, Esa Lindell, Brett Ritchie, Patrik Nemeth, Gemel Smith, and Oleksiak.

After doing the math and factoring all of the new deals in, CapFriendly estimates the Dallas Stars current roster to be about $196,355 over the limit in terms of salary. Now that probably sounds like a lot to everyday folks like you and me, but in NHL terms, it’s a very minuscule amount. But even though it may be small, they are still over the line and have to find a way to get back in the safe zone.

Let’s take a quick look at the lineup. On CapFriendly’s estimate, the Dallas Stars have 14 forwards, eight defenders, and two goaltenders in the lineup, which adds up to 24. That in itself is over the limit considering an NHL team is only allowed 23 active players on their roster at a time.

And this prediction does not include defenseman Julius Honka. Considering he is projected to be a full-time NHL starter this season, factoring him into the lineup pushes the Stars to 25 players and about $1.06 million over the cap limit.

Forward Brian Flynn is also included in the projection, but the Stars signing him this offseason was likely an AHL depth move. So moving him to the AHL pushes Dallas back down to 24 players and about $359,688 above the cap ceiling.

The Dallas Stars have until before the season begins to get their cap in order, and it’s obviously not going to happen without some movement.

All 24 players on the Dallas roster that we have crafted here are NHL-ready and are not AHL-bound. With that being said, the Stars will likely need to move some people around on the trade market.

The smartest idea for Dallas is to not simply get barely back under the cap, but to give themselves some breathing room. The player(s) moved will more than likely come on the defensive side. Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, and Greg Pateryn seem to be the three players in trade talk circulation.

All three of these players are currently making an AAV of less than $1 million, so trading one would not grant the Stars much relief. Trading two would at least give them some breathing room. Oleksiak ($964,688), Nemeth ($945,000), and Pateryn ($800,000) each become free agents next offseason, so trading their respective salaries along with their short terms should be relatively easy.

The Stars likely won’t get anything significant in return, but a draft pick or even two is better than nothing. As long as they can avoid picking up any NHL salary.

The Dallas Stars are over the salary cap wall for the first time in what seems like forever and will have to readjust sometime in the next few weeks. That’s the price you pay for building a roster with pure talent and skill.

It’s almost like a necessary evil, huh?