When NHL free agency officially opened on July 1, the Stars wasted no time making their summer moves.
Here is how some NHL experts graded the stars offseason moves:
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Emily Kaplan, ESPN: “Jim Nill has been a big-game hunter over the past few seasons, including seeking but striking out on John Tavares, Erik Karlsson and others. He finally lured a big name in Joe Pavelski at three years, $7 million annual average value. Pavelski (four 37-plus-goal seasons over his past six) immediately adds a new dimension to Dallas’ offense. But don’t overlook the Corey Perry signing, either. Many around the league expect Perry, on a bonus-laden veteran deal, to rebound after a rough season following knee surgery, and there’s no question he’ll be motivated.
“The Stars already have perhaps the best goalie tandem in the league and a stud blue line. Now their offense is catching up.”
Scott Burnside, The Athletic: “Dallas was one goal away from the Western Conference final this spring, and while Mats Zuccarello was an obvious fit after coming over at the trade deadline, the potential of adding former Sharks captain Joe Pavelski on a three-year deal worth $21 million is undeniable. On a team where leadership has been a question mark, Pavelski brings unparalleled pedigree even though he never delivered a Stanley Cup to San Jose. The rest of the changes are edge of the picture changes, although the addition of recently bought out veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera could pay big dividends if he can stay healthy. If Stephen Johns can come back to full health, it will mean GM Jim Nill will have to move some pieces, but that’s a nice luxury to have.
“The addition of Corey Perry is mildly perplexing, although the former Hart Trophy winner’s buy-in should be at an all-time high having been bought out by Anaheim. Having to buy out former first-round pick Valeri Nichushkin is a sobering reminder this team hasn’t been all that great at drafting and developing talent in recent years. Still, with Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop manning the fort in goal, and John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Miro Heiskanen representing one of the top young blue line corps in the NHL, the Stars may be as good as they have been since winning the Cup in 1999. Still, a note of caution: Two summers ago, many folks thought the Stars had “won” the offseason and they missed the playoffs altogether.”
Robert Tiffin, SB Nation: “Overall, I think the pieces calling the Stars a “legitimate cup contender” are a bit premature. Pavelski is a move the Stars had to make, but until we see what Stephen Johns has to offer, the Stars are still going to need Vezina-caliber goaltending from Ben Bishop to threaten the likes of Colorado atop the Central Division.
“Still, Jim Nill’s job was to make the team better. He found scoring help, and the less likely contributions from Perry and Sekera coming off their buyouts don’t negate the truly great addition of Pavelski. We aren’t grading the Stars’ drafting and development here, but only looking inside the shopping bag of Jim Nill. Maybe he got some items that aren’t massively helpful, but he still got two of them on sale, and the best one at a fair price.”
Grades for individual deals
Greg Wyshynski, ESPN on the Joe Pavelski signing: “Name an issue the Stars had at the forward spot, and Pavelski basically addresses it. The Stars averaged 2.55 goals per game in the regular season, and had only one forward outside of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov that scored more than 30 points. Pavelski has been over a 0.80 points-per-game average in each of his past six seasons, and shot the lights out last season (20.2 percent) in scoring 38 goals, with 12 of them coming on the power play. His presence around the net, whether it’s converting rebounds or causing chaos at the net front, will be welcomed by Dallas: They were 26th in high-danger goals at 5-on-5, while Pavelski was third on the Sharks in high-danger shot attempts (88 in 75 games).
“He gives the Stars the secondary scoring option they’ve been desperate to find, in theory anchoring their second line to allow the big three to play together — perhaps with Roope Hintz on his left and the attempted resurrection of Corey Perry on his right. But he also allows coach Jim Montgomery to spread the wealth, knowing that Pavelski can thrive with any of the top line’s players. He’s also underrated defensively and terrific in the faceoff dot.”
“It makes sense for Dallas. The Stars had over $12 million in cap space, and that’s before what might be a long-term injured reserve home for Martin Hanzal’s $4.75 million boondoggle. The three-year term gives the Stars some real flexibility in 2022, as Pavelski, Radulov and John Klingberg are all unrestricted that summer.
“The elephant in the room is Pavelski’s age: He turned 35 on July 11. He’s been a durable player during his career: Until last season, when he played 75 games, he had missed one regular-season game since 2011. That’s a polite way of saying he’s played a lot of hockey, when you factor in the playoffs and international play (he’s a two-time Olympian). But, again: If you watched the playoffs, it’s entirely possible Pavelski has Wolverine-like healing powers.”
Wyshynski, ESPN on the Corey Perry signing: “There’s minimal risk in signing Perry to a one-year, career rehab “show me” contract. In one way, it’s like the deal Brad Richards signed with the Chicago Blackhawks after taking a buyout from the New York Rangers. In another way, it’s like the contracts we’ve seen for aging scorers like Dany Heatley, who lose their touch and then take a discounted deal in the hopes of finding it again.
“There was a market for Perry for two reasons. First, because there’s an unending hope from NHL general managers that “once a goal scorer, always a goal scorer,” even if he’s a pale imitation of the MVP-level winger he used to be. Second, because there are some intangible reasons to have Corey Perry on your roster. In the sense that Corey Perry can really, really be annoying, born with a rare gift for agitation.”
Tiffin, SB Nation on the Andrej Sekera signing: “Sekera’s potential at this point in his career seems a bit less rosy. Sure, depth is always good if it doesn’t cost you anything, but this seems more like depth for depth’s sake. I guess it makes sense (especially on a Jim Nill club) to pack your defensive depth to the gills after the decimation of the Dallas defense corps we saw last November, but I have a hard time not looking at Sekera and seeing an older, more expensive, less-effective version of Connor Carrick. Make of that what you will.”
Originally published at https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-stars/stars/2019/07/13/nhl-free-agency-grades-after-offseason-splash-expert-says-stars-may-best-team-since-winning-1999-stanley-cup