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Heika: Seguin extension could take patience, but positives are there

Players want to be on a winning team and have an owner who will spend to bring one -- the Stars have both

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

It's a nerve-wracking time to be a Stars fan.

There was that whole John Tavares interview process, the first day of free agency, and now this back and forth on whether or not the team has the ability to trade for Erik Karlsson. It keeps the mind working overtime.

But while we all wait for the offseason to shake out so that we can judge whether the team has been improved, I'm going to posit the theorem that the process is good for the Stars.

 

[HEIKA'S MAILBAG: Could the Stars pursue an offseason trade?]

 

First of all, the reason Dallas is in the conversation for Tavares or Karlsson is because the player wants them to be. Whether it's the financial situation in Texas, the ability to play with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, or the excitement around the kind of system new coach Jim Montgomery might run, there is positive buzz around the organization.

"To look back on it, it's an honor to be one of the six teams out of 31 that had a chance to get him," Stars GM Jim Nill said of the Tavares negotiations.

The Stars have the money to spend on a superstar player and appear to be a team that is willing to go to the cap to compete with the best teams in the league. That's important in these talks. Players want to be on a winner and they want an owner who will spend to bring a winner. The Stars have that.

They also have a potential financial advantage in that there is no state tax in Texas and the cost of living is reasonable compared to other NHL locations. If you get to keep more of your money playing for the Stars, it makes sense that a player would want to play here. And if that player can be convinced that playing for a lower overall salary will help the team acquire more talent, that can't be a bad thing either.

Video: Seguin's summer of training and fishing

Bottom line, the Stars have an advantage and they want to use it in wooing top players.

Which brings us to Tyler Seguin.

The Stars' No. 1 center can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2019, so fans would love to get a contract extension signed. After watching Steven Stamkos and Tavares each go through the final year of their respective deals -- and watching the stress it puts on the team and its fans -- taking care of business before next season starts clearly seems like the right plan.

Seguin said as much, but also said he will allow his representatives and Nill to work these things out.

"My focus is I have another year with the Dallas Stars, so there is no real thought of thinking of other teams or thinking of free agency," Seguin said. "My focus is getting ready to play this year."

When asked how he feels about the team, Seguin said: "I love it here. My objective is I want to win a championship here. I love Dallas, it's home to me. So that's my No. 1 goal."

All good things, right? So why isn't that contract signed yet, you ask.

Video: Bogorad on why 'the countdown to October is on'

Well, the NHL is a business and businesses require negotiations. The value of a contract changes from year to year based on other contracts that are signed. The value of a player changes from year to year based on performance.

The current CBA allows a team to sign its own player to a maximum eight-year extension. It allows a free agent to sign a maximum seven-year contract. That extra year is intended to help teams keep their players. That's one part of this that favors the Stars and could lead you to speculate that Seguin will eventually be signed here.

So if we all believe this will be an eight-year deal, the only question is what the salary level might be. The guess here is that the Stars would like any player interested in signing to not exceed Jamie Benn's deal of $9.5 million per season.

Is that possible? Would Karlsson sign that deal? Will Seguin? We'll see.

But all of these deals are connected in some regard. Yes, each player is different, but the history of the league is contracts get compared. So when the Tampa Bay Lightning sign Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year deal at an average of $9.5 million, then you take notice.

Kucherov is 25 and tallied 39 goals among 100 points last season, so he can be seen as a comparable for Seguin. And if he feels $9.5 million is a good price, that gets registered.

So as you ponder the future this summer, there are signs this could work out all right. There's no guarantee in this business of being a fan, but for at least a day or two, you can think a good thought.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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