Dallas Stars Offseason Checklist

Things have been a bit rocky for Jake Oettinger since he took over as the main goalie for Dallas in 2021, but his recent playoff performance has put him back in the top 10 goalies. Even at his worst, he’s still pretty good with a .905 save percentage this season.

Injuries have been an issue, limiting him to 53 starts. But when he’s healthy, he can change games. He’s shown it with a .919 save percentage and a 37-11-11 record in the 2022-23 season, earning fifth place in Vezina Trophy voting. His .954 save percentage during a seven-game loss to the Flames in 2022 was one of the best performances ever seen in a series loss.

Now, with just one year left on his three-year deal worth $4M annually, Nill needs to decide on a long-term contract for Oettinger. If they sort it out early this summer—likely given their light free-agent workload—it could be around $8M per year for several years. This is less than what other top goalies like Hellebuyck and Sorokin are getting and lower than what Shesterkin might get from the Rangers.

New Deal For Harley

The Stars don’t have many important unrestricted free agents (UFAs) or restricted free agents (RFAs). Only two RFAs played consistently in the playoffs, and only Thomas Harley was used heavily. The 22-year-old isn’t eligible for arbitration but deserves a raise after finishing his entry-level contract.

Drafted 18th overall in 2019, Harley took over top-pairing duties from Ryan Suter early this season and never looked back. He ended with 15 goals and 47 points over 79 games and averaged over 21 minutes of ice time per game. His play alongside Miro Heiskanen was strong , controlling more than half of shot attempts at even strength.

Fans will likely think it’s smart if they opt for a bridge deal while aiming for another Stanley Cup Final appearance this decade.

Evolving Hockey predicts Harley’s new contract will be around two years with an annual value close to $4M—a safe bet considering his performance this year.

Add RD Depth

Dallas already has Esa Lindell and Suter signed next season behind Harley on defense. However, there’s uncertainty behind Heiskanen on the right side since he’s actually playing out of position as a lefty on that side.

Nill is expected to try hard to keep Chris Tanev from leaving next week after acquiring him at the trade deadline. Tanev did well in playoffs with Lindell but even if he stays, there are still questions about depth behind them.

Jani Hakanpää could be re-signed cheaply but offers similar skills as Tanev so might not be needed if Tanev stays. Nils Lundkvist had some regular-season success but struggled during playoffs; it’s doubtful he’ll play much under coach Peter DeBoer next season if re-signed. Lian Bichsel is promising but asking him to switch sides would be risky even paired with someone experienced like Suter.

So adding another right-shot defender will definitely be high priority when free agency starts July 1st!

What do you think? Should they go all-in on keeping Oettinger or focus more on strengthening their defense?

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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