Dallas Stars News: Free Agent Meeting Period Opens, Julius Honka Talk

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Julius Honka #6 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 19, 2018 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Stars 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Julius Honka #6 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 19, 2018 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Stars 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the Dallas Stars and the rest of the NHL to dive into the remainder of the 2019 offseason. That starts today with the beginning of the free agent meeting period.

The Dallas Stars have one week to get their 2019 offseason plan in order. And though that may seem like a considerable amount of time, there’s a lot that must be done.

Upon wrapping up their 2019 NHL Entry Draft journey with just four total selections, the Stars ended a relatively quiet and predictable draft weekend by looking ahead at Free Agency. And yes, there is plenty to look at.

Over the past six weeks, GM Jim Nill and the Stars have been hard at work with trying to get their free agency plan locked down. They already re-signed Esa Lindell, Roman Polak, and Mattias Janmark and publicly cut ties with Jason Spezza and Marc Methot. They have kept the door open on negotiations with other pending free agents while also maintaining a presence on the trade market.

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And now, with the 2019 NHL Entry Draft coming and going and the Stars not making any serious moves, it’s time to shift to one of the busiest weeks of the offseason.

But what all are the Dallas Stars currently involved in regarding trades and free agency? What do they have to look forward to in the week ahead regarding deadlines and openings of certain periods?

Here’s a quick rundown of what currently sits on the team’s to-do list.

Free Agent Interview Period opens Sunday

It was one of the hot topics discussed during the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and took effect on Sunday morning.

The Free Agent Interview Period opened on Sunday, giving all 31 NHL teams and the mass of pending free agents across the league a chance to begin looking around.

It’s a reserved time of the offseason that gives free agents a chance to meet with all interested teams, talk about contracts and outlooks, and begin crafting their list of preferred destinations. Instead of forcing free agents into making haste decisions on July 1 over a phone call with the team, this eight-day period offers players and teams an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at each other and craft their offseason plans from there.

And in the week ahead, the Dallas Stars will likely meet with a handful of pending free agents.

With the news of Mats Zuccarello preparing to meet with other teams during the interview period, the Stars must start planning for alternative options. If Zuccarello receives a better offer from another team, the last thing Dallas could afford is to have no backup plan to revitalize their struggling offense.

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  • As a result, expect the team to begin meeting with a handful of potentially interested free agents as July 1 draws nearer.

    RFA Qualifying Deadline on Tuesday

    While Sunday marks the first day that pending UFAs can meet with other teams, Tuesday marks the deadline to qualify all restricted free agents.

    After signing Mattias Janmark to a one-year extension on June 6, the Stars still have nine RFAs in their system that need new contracts. The player headlining the list is Jason Dickinson, who posted a career year in 2018-19 and could end up signing a bridge deal to further assess his talents and value. Other names include Brett Ritchie, Gavin Bayreuther, Dillon Heatherington, and Julius Honka.

    And speaking of Honka…

    Julius Honka trade talk heating up

    As the 2019 NHL Entry Draft dwindled closer to an end, the talks of Julius Honka’s future with the Stars became more frequent and intense.

    Honka last played a game for the Stars on Jan. 15 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and spent the remainder of the 2018-19 regular season and 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs serving as a healthy scratch. He was passed up by prospects and AHL defenders on the depth chart and finished the season with no goals, four assists, and a -2 rating in 29 games.

    He’s been unable to secure a spot in the starting lineup under three different coaching staffs in Dallas and seems to have reached the point of no return. When you combine that scenario with the fact that Honka is a pending RFA, it seems as though this summer will be the one where he finally gets moved.

    And while Nill didn’t move him at the draft, there was plenty of reported chatter about the defenseman.

    There’s reason to believe that Honka’s value is higher than ever right now. With the salary cap coming in lower than initially expected at $81.5 million,  Honka is a low-cost option that most teams could use to fill out their defensive lineup.

    Whether or not he ends up getting traded before Tuesday or after (or at all, for that matter) remains to be seen. But if Dallas can swing a future draft pick in the third or fourth round for the young defender, it’s likely an option that they will take.

    Next. Home Cooking: Stars Opening 2019-20 Season Against Bruins. dark

    The thick of the 2019 offseason is quickly approaching, and the week ahead will aid greatly in setting the stage for the Dallas Stars and the rest of the NHL.