Dallas Stars Free Agency Moves Will Breed Training Camp Competition

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Gemel Smith
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Gemel Smith /

After an offseason filled with signing NHL-ready talent, the Dallas Stars have a lot of players vying for a limited number of starting spots. This will spark the heat of competition both at training camp and throughout the regular season.

It’s hard to argue that the Dallas Stars did anything wrong in the 2017 offseason.

After a disastrous 2016-17 regular season that saw Dallas place sixth in the Central Division, post a record of 34-37-11 with 79 points, and finish 15 points out of the final wild card spot in the West, the Stars needed help. They were beaten, broken, and searching for help.

Luckily, GM Jim Nill knew just what to do. He spent 82 games watching the team fall apart at the seams and noted each and every weak point within the roster. As a result, he hired a new head coach in Ken Hitchcock, acquired an elite starting goaltender in Ben Bishop, traded for a solid defender in Marc Methot, and spent free agency securing forwards Martin Hanzal and Alexander Radulov.

But while the hockey world focuses on where all of the “veteran” players will slot into the lineup, they quickly forget about the other players that Nill acquired. In addition to signing all of the big names, Nill also secured smaller names like forwards Tyler Pitlick and Brian Flynn.

Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars /

Dallas Stars

Where will these guys fit in the Dallas Stars lineup? The better question may be in regards to if they will even make the lineup or if they will spend the season in the AHL.

But it’s not just Pitlick and Flynn. It’s a whole mass of Stars’ players that could be on the verge of not making the roster due to the limited number of spots.

Every time a new “superstar” is added to the roster, he is slotted in the top ranks and knocks everyone below him down a peg. That means that all of the third and fourth line forwards and third pairing defenders are in danger of losing a starting spot they held at some point.

Over the course of the 2017 offseason, the Dallas Stars gained four NHL-ready forwards and one NHL-ready defenseman. In contrast, they lost four NHL-ready forwards (Cody Eakin, Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, Jiri Hudler) and no NHL-ready defenders. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? It sounds like the Stars evened out.

While that may be the case mathematically, the Stars will still have a lot of players competing for limited spots in training camp and the preseason. That’s due to the extensive number of prospects knocking on the NHL door.

Let’s take a look at the list of NHL-ready players in the Dallas Stars system at the moment.


Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Mattias Janmark, Martin Hanzal, Jason Spezza, Antoine Roussel, Radek Faksa, Brett Ritchie, Curtis McKenzie, Devin Shore, Adam Cracknell, Tyler Pitlick, Brian Flynn, Jason Dickinson, Gemel Smith, Remi Elie (17)


Marc Methot, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns, Dan Hamhuis, Julius Honka, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn (9)

Each of the players above have proven at one point or another in their respective careers that they deserve a starting spot in the NHL. Most of them have proven it while in the Dallas system, while others were noteworthy free agents that proved their value elsewhere.

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There are only 12 starting spots on offense and six starting spots on defense. On top of that, there is probably one “reserve” spot in each area as well. If those are the parameters that the Stars stick with, then four forwards and two defenders will have to be moved.

Trading one or two of the defenders mentioned above has quickly turned from a possible thought to a probable reality. The Dallas Stars are over the cap space wall and need to make room, and trading defenders is considered the easiest way to do so. The problem on defense can be fixed.

On the forward side, things could get a little trickier. A few of the names near the end of the forward list above could spend another year in the AHL with the Texas Stars, though their talents are considered ready for consistent NHL exposure. Nill would have to be careful with managing their time in each league and make sure they are at the correct level.

But none of this will likely be decided until training camp, and that’s perfectly alright. In fact, that’s the best available option to solve this dilemma.

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The best way to breed competition is by giving people a goal and making them work hard in order to meet that goal. If the Stars go into training camp with the players knowing that there are only a limited number of spots on the NHL squad, they’re bound to put forth their best effort, right? Not to say that they don’t always put it forward, but in this situation the Dallas Stars will surely be picking the best players for their roster based on results.

Training camp and the preseason will be a prime time for both rookies and new faces to prove themselves to Ken Hitchcock and the Stars coaching staff. It’s not going to be easy and there’s only a limited amount of space on both offense and defense, so every player will have to make each opportunity count.

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In the end, it will help the Dallas Stars out in the best way. It’s time to see what each player is truly made of and which ones deserve to be in Big D the most.