It's The Stars That Are Having The Better Offseason of Dallas' Winter Sports Teams.
Unlike the Mavericks, who appear supremely effed these days, the Dallas Stars have been pretty active of late. They've taken great strides in deepening their pool of prospects with good young talent this offseason. Plus, they've added some intriguing, experienced players to their increasingly likable mix.
Kind of refreshing to see a local sports team's front office actively trying to return its franchise to relevance, huh?
You bet — even if some of the team's moves are a little eyebrow-raising.
The Stars inked a pair of 40-year olds recently, signing the once-ridiculously-great Jaromir Jagr to a one-year, $4.55 million contract and locking up veteran forward Ray Whitney to a two-year, $9 million deal after his most productive season yet in Phoenix.
Even at 40, Jagr, a former Stanley Cup Champion back in the Mario Lemieux days of the Pittsburgh Penguins, should bring a much-needed competitive drive to the team.
“I feel I can play on the top two lines,” Jagr recently told the Dallas Morning News, “and that's something that's most important thing to me. I don't want to be in the NHL just to sit down. I want to be a big part of the team.”
By contrast, the team's other new Czech forward is, interestingly enough, only 18 years old.
In a move on Friday, the Stars signed Radek Faksa to a three-year entry level deal. Faksa was the team's first-round draft pick (13th overall) of this year's NHL Entry Draft, and he's said to have great hockey sense and anticipation skills. He was, after all, first in scoring among all OHL rookies last season with 29 goals and 37 assists.
The draft is also where the Stars decided to trade center Mike Ribeiro to the Capitals (along with a second-round pick) for Cody Eakin, who has spent the last six seasons in the juniors. The word on Eakin is that he's supposed to be a great two-way player with fantastic speed and agility and scoring skills, and that he should have no problem adapting to bigger and faster NHL players in his first NHL season here with the Stars.
Of course, it should be noted that, along with Ribeiro, center Steve Ott is no longer a Star. He's heading to Buffalo in part of a deal that brings to Dallas 29-year-old center Derek Roy. He's expected to play alongside Jamie Benn, one of the top forwards in the league.
“Derek Roy will be on our top two lines with Jamie Benn,” Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk recently told ESPN Dallas. “We don't have to put all that pressure on Cody Eakin. We think he'll be an up-and-coming player.”
Barring any more surprise moves by GM Joe, team captain Brenden Morrow will be back with goaltender Kari Lehtonen, along with other team staples in Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas, Loui Eriksson, and Alex Goligoski.
So, to be sure, the core of the team remains. And to that core, the Stars have added some players worth getting at least a little excited about.
Maybe it's not as attention-grabbing as, say, trying to sign the biggest free agent on the market only to fail, but, considering that the most exciting thing the Mavs have going for them these days is talks of some contract negotiations with Los Angeles Laker also-ran Ramon Sessions, it ain't all that bad, either.
Actually, it's kind of exciting.
I mean, sure, he's old. But Jaromir Jagr? Dude's immortal.
Photo by Michael Miller, via WikiCommons.