Dallas Stars News: RFA Jason Dickinson Files For Salary Arbitration

DALLAS, TX - MAY 1: Jason Dickinson #16 of the Dallas Stars skates against the St. Louis Blues in Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the American Airlines Center on May 1, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - MAY 1: Jason Dickinson #16 of the Dallas Stars skates against the St. Louis Blues in Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the American Airlines Center on May 1, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The NHL released the complete list of qualified restricted free agents that filed for salary arbitration on Friday. Among those was Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson. And while that’s not a reason to worry, it’s a part of the process.

The 2018-19 season served as a nice and somewhat unexpected springboard for Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson.

After being selected 29th overall by the Stars in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the young Ontario native began working his way towards a spot in the NHL. He spent a handful of seasons in the OHL with the Guelph Storm before making his AHL debut with the Texas Stars at the end of the 2014-15 season.

And after a 22-goal, 53-point campaign in his first full season with Texas in 2015-16, Dickinson made his NHL debut on April 7, 2016, scoring a goal and putting two shots on net in 11:55 of ice time.

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The 2016-17 season involved Dickinson splitting time between the NHL (10 games) and AHL (58 games) while he further polished his skills. And by the time the 2017-18 season rolled around, he seemed ready to contend for a full-time NHL spot.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, Dickinson was involved in 17 different transactions that consistently sent him up and down I-35 between Dallas and Cedar Park. He played 42 AHL games and 27 NHL games during the 2017-18 regular season campaign, but never truly had a chance to get comfortable before the next recall or reassignment occurred. That can seriously weigh on a player’s ability to produce and make a consistent impact.

“I think it was a mentality,” Dickinson noted in November 2018 about his 2017-18 campaign. “I think, a lot of the call-ups last year in the second half of the season after I had had the first few where I felt like I could really contribute and I didn’t; after that, I was just coming up here and I was trying not to lose games. I was trying not to let the guys down. Unfortunately, that’s not a great way to go into games. It’s going to hurt you more times than not because you’re just going to be scared to make plays and you’re not going to make great reads. It worked against me.”

And so, Dickinson entered 2018 training camp with three goals, five points, and a -4 rating in 38 career NHL games that spanned across three separate seasons. With that in mind, his outlook at training camp was cloudy.

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But Dickinson took the uncertainty and turned it into a positive. He put together an early surge in the 2018-19 season, earned a full-time spot in the starting lineup, and finished the season with six goals, 22 points, and a +9 rating in 67 games.

Dickinson became a staple on the Dallas penalty kill (which finished fifth in the NHL), played both at center and on the wing, and was able to play all throughout the lineup and in a variety of different scenarios while finding ways to consistently contribute.

He followed up a commendable regular season showing with three goals and five points in 13 playoff games.

All in all, it was an important season for Dickinson as he proved to be a valuable NHL starter and a sizable piece of the Stars’ future.

For that to happen, though, the Dallas Stars will have to sign him to a new contract. And on July 5, Dickinson took the next step in getting that contract by filing for salary arbitration. He’s one of 40 qualified restricted free agents that filed before Friday’s deadline. In addition, the Stars are one of 20 NHL teams that now have an arbitration case to deal with.

Dickinson was one of 11 pending restricted free agents in the Dallas Stars organization as the 2019 summer began for the team. And with the hefty list in front of him, GM Jim Nill got to work. He signed Esa Lindell to a five-year extension within the first week of the offseason and also extended Mattias Janmark on a one-year deal in the first week of June.

But as the RFA qualifying deadline approached, Dickinson remained one of the top names on the Dallas roster without a new contract. Nill told the media that he would meet with Dickinson’s representatives at the 2019 NHL Draft and try to hammer out a new deal before the deadline, but that didn’t happen.

And so, Dickinson was one of the six RFAs that the Stars qualified on June 25, 2019. Now, he’s the lone Star that filed for arbitration.

But that’s not a bad thing and doesn’t necessarily carry a negative connotation with it. Instead, it’s simply part of the negotiation process as the two sides try to find common ground.

“We’ll start talking to them probably in the next two or three weeks,” Nill said on July 1. “Everyone wants to see what the market is at, so we’ll talk to his agents and see where they’re at. We have a rough idea where the number is, but there’s a process that goes with it. We aren’t in a rush and we know they aren’t either. A deal will get done, but there’s really no timeline.”

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  • The thing about arbitration is that the players who file rarely make it to their hearing. That’s because the teams and players often get a contract settled well before the scheduled meeting with the arbitrator comes around. In the 2018 offseason, only four arbitration cases actually reached the hearing.

    One of those cases was Gemel Smith, who was one of three Dallas Stars that filed for arbitration (along with Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore). The Stars settled deals with Shore and Janmark shortly after the players filed, but Smith’s desire for a one-way contract eventually pushed the two sides to the hearing, where an arbitrator decided on his new contract.

    And while Smith and Shore are no longer with the Stars just one season later, there’s no correlation. Shore was traded to the Anaheim Ducks to make Dallas better and faster in the middle of the season and Smith was a 13th forward that was claimed on waivers towards the beginning of the year. Dickinson, on the other hand, proved to be a valuable piece for the team and should play an important role in the organization’s future.

    This is simply a part of the negotiation process. Dickinson’s previous contract was a one-year, one-way deal that carried an AAV of $875,000. After a productive season, he’s likely in store for a two-year contract with an AAV around the $1.5 million range (a bridge deal, in other words). The new contract will give him a chance to continue proving his effectiveness in an effort to earn a long-term extension, similar to what Esa Lindell recently did on his own two-year deal.

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    For right now, however, the Dallas Stars will continue working with Dickinson’s camp on a reasonable extension that works for both sides and sets the player up to have a significant impact going forward.